Monday, 1 February 2016

Mill Road Depot Site Supplementary Planning Document Second Workshop

On Tuesday, I attended the workshop regarding the future of the Mill Road Depot site, and what it would become in the future. The site is council owned and is soon to become vacant. Back in November at the first workshop, the local residents had discussed wanting more affordable housing along with some community and green space, and as the space is owned by the council, it seems that this was possible. The meeting was attended by various councillors including the Green Party Market ward councillor Oscar Gillespie, local residents, and the council consultants working on the future of the site. The consultants started with the feedback of what they learnt from the meeting and then presented us with what they had put together from the feedback.

There were 3 important things of note regarding the site:

- 2 areas on the site that contained contamination of fuel tanks
- there was a broad deficiency is open spaces in the area
- they wanted to incorporate the Chisholm Trail into the site

At the last meeting, people had put forward ideas about having social and affordable housing. There were  mixed views about student housing and having a space for small businesses. People had also wanted green spaces with play areas. The consultants showed us various different ideas of green spaces that included linear and pocketed parks. There was also an idea to plant more trees. Within the concept of having around 167 homes on the site, people put forward the idea of having a car-free zone and the possibility to have an area to charge electric cars.

With regards to the housing element, people wanted sustainable design that was incorporated with the architecture of local design. There were strong feelings against pretend victorian houses the likes of which can be found on Cromwell Road. There was also a mutual acceptance that there should be only one point of entrance for cars.

With regards to the design evolution, the consultants spoke of the key constraints on the site. This included the existing garages towards the Hooper Street end, the railway to one side and Mill road at the entrance. The contamination would need cleaning up and there were also existing grade listed buildings made up of coach houses towards the Kingston street side and further a listed building at the entrance. There was also a school near the Mill Road end of the site. There was talk of having a linear park against the railway, but it would only serve the local development rather than the wider community. The pocket parks were seen to be a better use of space but we were told they could only be in certain areas due to the existence of trees, This was problematic due to the park is the north that was too close to the Mill Road bridge. There was a possibility of having a north/south entrance.

The general consensus was to have tall apartment buildings about 5 storeys- against the railway and have a contemporary design to the houses with garages, the likes of which can be found near the Grafton Centre. I felt there was a sense of horror from the majority of people present at the idea of something similar to that here. There was a general no-no towards having pretend victorian houses. The consultants also suggested that the coach houses could potentially be reused by being converted into 2 bedroomed houses. They presented us with 6 options, of which I felt most people liked option 5 (pictured below).

With about 50 people in attendance, there were around 6 tables with 8 people huddled around it. During the workshop, I found out that the small organisations that exist at Hooper street would also have to leave. This includes the Women's Resource Centre. And seeing as Anglia Ruskin University are closing down its Nursery, I felt it was important that we ensured that our feedback form on our table said that we needed both of these services in the development. My suggestion was to used the 4 separate coach houses as spaces for local organisations and small businesses. Oscar Gillespie also suggested having a safe haven for LGBTQI young people from Cambridge who currently do not have a place to meet. A PACT- Petersfield Area Community Trust member also suggested having solar panels on each household to make the development sustainable. I also strongly suggested not having the Chisholm Trail go through the development and keeping the area car-free, with no garages attached to homes. This is where the idea of having an underground car park was put forward by Richard Robertson, Petersfield ward councillor. The main concern of the current garage tenants was what would happen to the garages if the land was to be developed.The current garage tenants who use it for their cars agreed that they would be happy if they too got a space within the underground car park. On our table, we discussed the possibility of perhaps having 40% social housing instead of the 20%.

I've just edited the photo above with what ideas our table came up with.
The following list is some of the ideas other people from the workshop came up with:

- A tall building like Dale's Brewery to have it match the area so over 6 storeys high
- Gallery/ Artist's studios within the development
- a few households given to Cambridge Housing Society
- Rather than 0.6 cars per household there should be 0.3 per home
- it was pointed out that the Mill Road entrance was dangerous
- A comment that the garages for each household was unnecessary
- Youth housing
- only one entrance
- The development should have a theme e.g Love Identity
- There should be a car club, or a community car
- Anti-social behaviour possible to be designed out
- Some were concerned about the skyline
- Ideas to have a wildlife planting schemes
- concerns over shading by big, tall buildings
- Someone else also suggested the coach houses could be used by start-up and organisations

There was a moment during the workshop session that I realised just how much and what this site meant to so many people. It's possibly the first time so many people have had the power to have their views heard in this capacity, and in that sense it is exciting. But it is also a development where people have so many things depending on it to deliver the many things that the area is lacking in. We, the Petersfield residents are starved of a community space, a green open space, and affordable housing. I feel a little concerned that perhaps by trying to build all these elements we will end up with sub-par level of everything,

Key dates gone and for future to keep in mind:

Evidence Review                                  September-December
Design Development                            November- January
Preparation of SDP                               February-March
6 weeks of consultations                       Mid May-June
Prepare Final SDP for Adoption           September
Committee/Adoption                             Autumn

As always,
Until Next time,
Sen x

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