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We need something now' before Cambridge Biomedical Campus hits gridlock says city council leader Cllr Lewis Herbert

By Josh Thomas | Local Democracy Reporter

An aerial view of how the AstraZeneca site will look at Cambridge Biomedical Campus
An aerial view of how the AstraZeneca site will look at Cambridge Biomedical Campus

There are fears one of city's fastest growing employment centres could grind to a halt unless something is done to fix the traffic situation.

AstraZeneca development at the Biomedical Campus
AstraZeneca development at the Biomedical Campus

Thousands more people are expected to be moving to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus over the coming year as AstraZeneca, Abcam and the new Papworth Hospital get ready to open new premises on the site around Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Fears have already been raised over what the additional commuters could do to traffic in the area, with some worrying ambulances trying to access the hospital could even be held up. Now, there have been calls for something to be done to alleviate the situation before it becomes even worse.

Speaking at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority’s annual meeting yesterday (Wednesday), mayor James Palmer said that, while he opposed park and ride sites as long-term solutions, he did think they had a part to play as short-term fixes until a “world-class transport system” including a city metro, could be built.

There were warnings, however, that action needed to be taken quickly, as problems would arise long before a metro could be built.

An artists impression of how Cambridge Biomedical Campus will look
An artists impression of how Cambridge Biomedical Campus will look

Cllr Lewis Herbert, the Labour leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “We are going to have gridlock there before the metro is built. We need something there now.”

He said Park & Ride sites were a “finger in the dike”, and a “stopgap” solution, but said a larger park and ride at Trumpington was “essential” until a bigger scheme could be implemented.

Cllr Bridget Smith, the Liberal Democrat leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said businesses were struggling now, and would lose confidence in both the Combined Authority and the Greater Cambridge Partnership – another organisation set up to ensure sustainable growth in the region – if they could not work together on a solution.

Cllr Smith said: “Businesses are having recruitment issues now, and their staff are struggling to get into work now.”

Greater Cambridge Partnership assembly member Claire Ruskin, of Cambridge Network, said she was unsure why Park & Rides could not be part of the solution in helping to address some of the problems that could arise at the Biomedical Campus.

She said: “In the short term I have not heard any evidence that Park & Ride schemes won’t help, especially looking at the huge and obvious growth of the Addenbrooke’s site this year. I believe that GCP has far more evidence from business and residents than the Combined Authority has to date and I strongly believe we need to do something now.”

James Palmer, mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, reassured those present that there was “never any intention” to close the Park & Rides near the site “in the short-term”, but said that, in the long run, he was still very much opposed to them and that he regarded them as “part of the problem” rather than part of the solution.

“There has never been any intention to stop the short term solutions around the city,” said Mr Palmer. “I do not see Park & Rides as part of the long-term solution to the problems we face.”

Mr Palmer said his ambition was for Cambridge to have a “world-class” transport system.

He acknowledged that the area around Cambridge Biomedical Campus was experiencing “significant growth” with the arrival of AstraZeneca and other companies in the coming year, and said it would take more than Park & Rides to address the problem.

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