The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority is developing a plan – the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP) – that will shape the future of transport in our region. We need to tell them what the residents of Willingham would like to see in that plan. You can get further information and a survey form at yourltcp.co.uk or ring 0808 258 3225, or simply email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Closing date 4 August.
This document briefly quotes from the draft plan and then describes how it will affect Willingham and the Parish Council’s view on what it should contain.
The Draft Plan
The Vision in the draft plan is:
“A transport network which secures a future in which the region and its people can thrive.
It must put improved public health at its core. It must help create a fairer society. It must respond to climate change targets. It must protect our environment and clean up our air, and it must be the backbone of sustainable economic growth in which everyone can prosper.
And it must bring a region of cities, market towns and very rural areas closer together.
It will be achieved by investing in a properly joined up, net zero carbon transport system, which is high quality, reliable, convenient, affordable, and accessible to everyone. Better cleaner public transport will reduce private car use, and more cycling and walking will support both healthier lives and a greener region. Comprehensive connectivity, including digital improvements, will support a sustainable future for our region’s nationally important and innovative economy.”
There then follow a series of aims, objectives and strategies that are bland and vague, although one or two nuggets can be picked out:
- Under the Employment objectives: “connect all new and existing communities sustainably so all residents can easily access a good job within 30 minutes by public transport”.
- Under Productivity: “better public transport is needed to offer an attractive alternative to using the car. Buses need to be more available, frequent, reliable and affordable.”
- Under Connectivity: There will be focus on better linking up of hamlets, villages, market towns and cities with places of work, education and other services. More cycling and walking options will also link villages, towns and cities.
How the draft plan affects Willingham
There are no improvements for Willingham – and the buses are actually worse.
Local strategies are listed for each region and for our region are based on work already done by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) (which covers South Cambs and Cambridge City) on:
- four new public transport and cycling and walking corridors – Cambourne to Cambridge, Cambridge Eastern Access, Cambridge South East Transport and Waterbeach to Cambridge
- the future bus network
- travel hubs (like Longstanton to which our links are very poor),
- improved cycling and walking, based on the Greenways project
The New Corridors
Willingham’s problem seems to be that the Busway is seen as the solution to public transport for our corridor yet we don’t have access to it!
The new network is described in the GCP’s Making Connections consultation on which the Parish Council has already given its views. Willingham is worse off – only a rural hourly bus, on a loop connecting Swavesey, Papworth Everard, Bar Hill, Longstanton and villages in between. We lose our current direct bus service to Cambridge. There are no direct links to any urban centre or the village college at Cottenham, or to the sixth form colleges in Cambridge.
Willingham is one of the larger villages in South Cambridgeshire with a population approaching 5000, yet the consultant’s report, on which the proposal is based, almost completely disregards it. It is missing from the map showing the existing bus network and from the majority of the maps showing details of the new proposals. It is mentioned only in passing a few times as one of the stops on the rural loop. In its comments on the plan the PC proposed that buses (say two an hour) are diverted from the Busway, as originally promised, to provide direct links to Cambridge and St Ives. Alternatively, we need a 10 minute feeder service to the Busway. We also need direct links to Cottenham and the sixth form colleges.
The GCP’s flagship Greenways project is a wheel of 12 new or improved cycleways that converge on Cambridge. One is along the busway from St Ives, to which we are connected by one inadequate cycleway along Station Road, not due to be upgraded. The Parish Council commented last year on the GCP’s Cycling Plus survey, and in particular the need for links between villages, but have been told that there are no further plans for new cycleways until the huge Greenways project is completed.
Willingham is extremely badly served by cycleways compared to other local villages. It currently has just one – south along Station Road to the guided busway at Longstanton along the very busy B1050. It is welcome and heavily used, but urgently in need of improvement. It is very narrow in places and the shared-use with pedestrians and numerous exits from driveways make it often awkward and even hazardous at times. It also provides access to the fast-growing town of Northstowe.
There is much connectivity between Willingham and surrounding villages so cycleways are also needed in other directions, for employment, leisure and social purposes and to access facilities such as shops. In particular:
East to Rampton. The majority of secondary school pupils at Willingham attend Cottenham Village College, which is also an Adult Education Centre. It is the other side of Rampton and the road between Willingham and Rampton is narrow and winding and carries fast-moving traffic. There is an indirect cycle route via Station Road, the busway and Reynolds Drove but the Station Road part is inadequate as described above, and this route adds over a third to the distance. Another option for a new cycleway is along Iram Drove and Cow Lane, which is an existing backroad but with a very poor surface. Beyond Rampton there is an existing cycleway to Cottenham, which links to other cycleways into Cambridge.
West to Over. Willingham and Over are closely linked and there are numerous trips between them, e.g. Over residents use Willingham library and the Coop and other shops, and facilities. This contributes to increased traffic in Willingham. The current road is fast and narrow with a semi-blind summit.
North to Earith – this is the only river crossing for 10 km in each direction and opens up connections to all the towns and villages to the North, such as Ely. The current B1050 is very dangerous for cyclists, as it is a speeding blackspot and carries a large number of HGVs. It is due for an upgrade and a cycleway from the centre of Willingham must be part of that project. An alternative is to upgrade the bridle path that runs from West Fen Road to the RSBP reserve.