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Roll-out of residents’ parking schemes in Cambridge could be suspended

The roll-out of residents’ parking schemes in Cambridge could be suspended, with the county council due to reconsider the policy next week.

Cambridgeshire County Council papers say the rethink has been prompted by “the lack of viable transport alternatives” and Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) projects “taking longer than expected”.

Residents' parking permits were due to be rolled out elsewhere in Cambridge (30765790)
Residents' parking permits were due to be rolled out elsewhere in Cambridge (30765790)

The GCP said it is “on track to deliver its programme to make it quicker and easier for people to travel around greater Cambridge”.

For a number of Cambridge neighbourhoods there are currently no parking restrictions on residential streets.

A roll-out of restrictions to limit parking to residents was intended as part of wider measures to reduce congestion in Cambridge.

The GCP has committed over £1million to the programme.

But now the county council’s highways and infrastructure committee will be asked to consider a delay to the removal of free parking in residential streets because of “the lack of viable transport alternatives”.

County council papers say the residents’ parking schemes – described as the “sticks” – were supposed to work “hand-in-hand with ‘carrots’ in the form of improved sustainable transport alternatives”.

“However the development and implementation of GCP initiatives is taking longer than expected,” the county council says.

“To date, none of the initiatives which were anticipated have been fully implemented. Major schemes such as the new Park & Ride site at Hauxton, Cambourne to Cambridge dedicated bus route, Cambridge South West Travel Hub, Chisholm Trail, Milton Road and Histon Road schemes are still works in progress.”

The Cambourne to Cambridge busway plan was halted at the last minute by the mayor of the Combined Authority, Conservative James Palmer, last month, prompting a row between the two authorities.

The GCP was set up in 2015 with up to £500million available for infrastructure improvements. It is made up of Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, as well as the University of Cambridge, which is a non-voting member.

The council’s highways and infrastructure committee will consider three options for the residents’ parking schemes on Tuesday March 10.

The first option is to continue with the residents’ parking scheme roll-out as planned.

Option two is to pause the implementation of any new schemes for a year.

The third option is to pause for 12 months, with the exception of three areas – Hurst Park, Elizabeth and Romsey West – that are already part way through the process, and an unofficial consultation suggests residents are in favour.

Currently, all the schemes implemented in Cambridge under the Cambridge Residents’ parking schemes extension delivery plan are subject to a preliminary unofficial consultation, and then a further referendum in the affected area.

The council says implementing parking restrictions in some areas and not others of a comparable distance from the city centre can increase the number of commuters parking on the streets without restrictions, causing issues for those who live in the area.

Councillor Dave Baigent. Picture: Keith Heppell
Councillor Dave Baigent. Picture: Keith Heppell

Labour city councillor, Dave Baigent, said there was “major concern” over the possible suspension of the permit scheme in part of his ward, Romsey West, which is already part-way through the process.

“Places like Romsey are a huge free car park,” he said. “Every morning Romsey streets fill up with commuters’ cars because it is one of the only free parking areas left in the area.”

He said the implementation of residents’ parking permit schemes in the surrounding area is pushing more cars into fewer streets.

Cllr Baigent argues for the permit scheme to be introduced into Romsey West, saying those who make use of the parking there currently but do not live there “really should be parking outside the city and coming in by bus”.

He said it is “a very difficult situation” to balance the needs of people to come into the city with the effect of commuters filling up residential streets.

But he said: “It appears as if political pressure is being brought to bear on Cambridgeshire County Council by people in the villages who use Cambridge as a car park when they come into the city.”

Chairman of the committee, Conservative Cllr Mathew Shuter, said there are “a number of factors” behind the decision to look again at the scheme and consider a delay.

Cllr Matthew Shuter
Cllr Matthew Shuter

He said he has “an open mind” on the issue and will listen to the debate made in the committee next week.

A GCP spokesperson said: “The Greater Cambridge Partnership is on track to deliver its programme to make it quicker and easier for people to travel around greater Cambridge.

Construction is under way on Histon Road and phase one of the Cambridge south east transport scheme. A planning application to create a new south west travel hub is expected to be submitted in the next few weeks.

“We have already delivered significant upgrades to walking and cycling links – including cross city cycling schemes and ‘quick wins’ across the proposed Greater Cambridge greenways network.

“Work will also begin to create the Chisholm Trail when the Abbey Chesterton bridge, which is being funded by Cambridgeshire County Council, has been constructed.”

Council papers show residents’ parking permit schemes have already been implemented in Morley, Accordia, Staffordshire, Ascham, Victoria, Coleridge West and Newnham.

All of these options to be considered by the council assume the Benson Zone is implemented as work is due to begin at the end of March.

Council papers show six areas have indicated a lack of public support: York, Stretten and Stourbridge, Chesterton West, Chesterton East and Chesterton South.

Coleridge East, Glebe, Wilberforce, Nightingale, Perse and Wulfstan are yet to be consulted.

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