Your Ideas for Mill Road

Last month we invited your thoughts on Mill Road. We asked what would encourage you to spend more time and money with our local Mill Road shops.

We’ve now collated all the responses that we received – many thanks go to everyone who took the time to contribute their thoughts. Here’s a summary of the results:

Responses to survey at https://overmillroadbridge.org.uk/mill-road/mill-road-positive-thinking/

Provision of an “Attractive street environment – e.g. art, planting” got the highest support.

Comments reflected the poor visual state of the streetscape – e.g. the use of roadworks hardware…


People wanting safe sheltered spaces to enjoy food and drink also featured strongly.

Al Casbah showing the way in this pic with their on-street counter service…


We’ll continue to press the County Council to allocate resources which would allow these ideas to be realised.

Some of your comments

I feel bad for the traders who are having a difficult time, but I do feel that keeping the bridge closed is the right thing to do. It makes the street much safer for those who walk and cycle, and there is much less air pollution. I know some traders think that this has reduced the volume of trade, but it is surely just as likely that the lack of students and visitors is causing this. I know a lot of locals are trying to shop locally, but without students there just aren’t as many people around.

C.W., Vinery Rd

With outside spaces sheltered from rain and sunshine, I could eat out. I miss live music. I love it not being a through road.

M.O., Devonshire Rd

It’s a question of what shops and what they are selling. It’s often the case these days that you can order the same items from argos or amazon for cheaper and get a same-day free delivery to your doorstep. To some degree we might just need to accept that shopping habits have changed, and people don’t need some of these shops anymore. There is no value in trying to hold onto past memories of shopping habits, we need a future based strategy that includes investment that supports shopper’s habits in the years to come. Mill RD won’t stop a national decline in shopping, but it can take a larger proportion of the ‘Cambridge spend’ with some proper thought.

M.R., Sedgwick St

Copy Dutch cities such as Utrecht/Amsterdam, copy other successful pedestrianising projects – without constant trucks, cars and buses Mill Rd would become the go to place in the whole city. Like the Mill Rd Winter Fair. A weekly farmer’s market would drive that rebranding, and the affluent local community would support it. We need to buy local anyway.

C.F., Cavendish Rd

Regularly shop at al Amin, arjuna, cutlacks and pop-in postoffice. Pleased to see that amnesty book shop is reopening. V frustrated at yet more road works. This seems to be sabotaging everything.

We’d love to come back to eat at SeaTree and other Mill Road restaurants, but as we don’t live immediately on mill road we would like to see tables spaced out in the street so we could eat safely and pleasantly in the open air… Even if what we had was a takeaway and a pint of beer. Could mill road becomes like one of those food courts you see in some countries.. Where you can buy from a variety of food stalls, and then eat your various meals together with your family members on a communual table. Surely this is easy to do in that stretch of Mill Road, because the road is plenty wide enough for half to be allocated to traders.

A.M. Eltisley Ave

The area of Mill Road has become quite inaccessible for me as I have a baby and find it hard to walk without going in the road. There is always a van on the pavement opposite Cavendish Road and normally one outside the Al Amin. The bridge closure is great but the rest of the street is a nightmare. Much of it is becoming such a mess with rubbish and gas canisters everywhere and abandoned buildings. I really hope it improves, the bridge closure remains and is permanent, and the street is allowed to shine.

L.E., St Philips Rd

Mill Road: Positive Thinking in Trying Times

The economic impacts of Covid-19 are badly affecting many of our Mill Road shops.

Some traders have coped OK. Some traders have been able to make modifications to their businesses in order to adapt. But others are closing down or have been put under significant economic pressure.

We want to see Mill Road remain a vibrant street in the heart of our community. Further down the page you can tell us how we could best work together to achieve that.

Covid-19: National Retail Impact

Mill Road suffering from online competition
  • The Office for National Statistics’ figures show online shopping has risen substantially since the start of lockdown and continues at historically high levels. At the same time there has been a dramatic reduction in fuel consumption throughout Britain. These national trends have hit those stores without an online presence hardest.
  • Overall 57% of all businesses in the UK are now suffering a serious downturn.
  • Millions of people are now either out of work or fearing for their jobs, impacting all non-essential sales.
  • Monitoring shows that footfall in Mill Rd has fallen in line with similar UK high streets.
  • There are much lower student numbers in Cambridge right now. Fewer people are walking and cycling down Mill Road to go to the city centre. Both factors will adversely affect traders.
  • We have large numbers of businesses on Mill Road which by their nature can’t provide online services. And others need physical customers walking through the door in order to thrive – e.g. some restaurants simply can’t survive with online orders alone.
  • Most of our traders need more “real” customers back on Mill Road.

Where Does Mill Road Go From Here?

Which way now for Mill Road?

Residents & traders should collaborate! We will be campaigning to make Mill Road a more attractive destination for all shoppers, while maintaining covid safety standards. And we must work to ensure that already disadvantaged groups (e.g. the chronically sick and the disabled) are not further penalised by the bridge closure.

Mill Road Ideas

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas!

We want your ideas. Please tell us about them using the form below!

We’ll collate the responses, and then feedback to you. We’ll also provide an opportunity for discussion in a public zoom meeting, date tbc.

If you’re short on inspiration you can read what people thought should change on Mill Road at the last public meeting held at St Barnabas Church Petersfield in October 2019.

But particularly if you’ve used Mill Road recently we hope you’ll come up with some great ideas of your own


Please choose up to 4 key changes that would encourage you to spend more money on Mill Road. You can use the comments box at the bottom to expand on your answers.




Mill Road Vision: Public Meeting – What Was Discussed!

The evening was hosted by the Mill Road Summer Committee and aimed to raise awareness of the City Council’s ‘Making Spaces for People’ consultation and encourage discussion about a vision for the future on Mill Road.

The following opening statement was made by the chair:

“Tonight, we are going to look for a vision for Mill Road that will fit into the current Making Space for People consultation.

A vision that would find ways to create an Opportunity Area to support the interests of Mill Road’s characteristic smaller independent traders, the vitality and viability of our road and protect and enhance its unique character.”

Katie Thornburrow, Executive Councillor for Planning and Open Spaces, gave an overview of the consultation, and Kieran Perkins spoke on behalf of Cambridge Architects Association, who had prepared a blue-sky thinking display in the room.

 People were then invited to breakout into one of five themed groups to discuss and input ideas for change. Overwhelmingly people were keen to input ideas around the Green agenda. Below is a roundup of the information that was gathered by the facilitators on the night.

Theme 1: GREEN

People listed the ‘green spaces’ on Mill Road that they liked and it was suggested that these spaces should be enhanced. These spaces included:

  • Donkey Common
  • outdoor play areas
  • Ditchburn Place
  • existing trees, flowers, hanging baskets
  • outdoor cafe seating

It was also noted that celebrations and festivals played their part in highlighting Mill Road and its green spaces.

When asked ‘what do we have already?’ people answered with both positive and negative aspects, mentioning:

  • Personal gardens
  • Ditchburn/St Barnabas gardens
  • the  new flower bed outside Coop
  • interesting trees
  • seagulls
  • Donkey Common
  • Parkside
  • graveyard
  • Romsey Rec
  • Vinery Rec
  • garden in front of Mosque
  • small independent traders
  • active community (religious buildings/ heritage)
  • hidden green space
  • too many cars

It was noted that things were not always the same and historically Mill Road had less traffic, more variety of shops, fewer cafes and as one person said ‘I used to leave my bike unlocked’

Suggestions for Change

Traffic and how we move through Mill Road 

  • One way traffic with Coldham’s Lane or Hills Rd
  • One lane of traffic on Mill Rd, Access only for – electric vehicles, public service vehicles, emergency vehicles
  • More buses
  • Widen Devonshire Rd and re- surface all pavements
  • Big picture transport plan- make sure Mill Road is part of and joined up to the bigger transport picture for the City
  • More studies/ research to show what would work
  • Change traffic patterns – eg deliveries at different times or early morning delivery only

Biodiversity and Green Space

  • Green spaces set back from the street ( ref London’s tranquil zones)
  • More green, wildflowers for bees
  • More biodiversity
  • More trees- pedestrianise the rd
  • Tree give away and free planting,
  • Hedges for biodiversity
  • Green walls, rooftop gardens
  • Enhance existing greenery

Community Use of Space

  • Community gardens/ flower beds
  • Corner of Coleridge Rd – park instead of flats and make it a  ‘ proper garden’
  • A Mill Road Climate Change/Green group

Air Quality

  • More greenery for air quality
  • Zero emissions zone

Other

  • Ban plastics/ packaging/ food items/ other goods

Theme 2: HEALTH

The discussions around health fell into the following areas:

Safety

  • This was a key issue, with concerns expressed about pedestrian safety
  • Walkers pushed into the road by pavement-parked vehicles and sometimes by cyclists on pavements
  • Very narrow pavements in many places along Mill Rd caused problems
  • Older, unsteady walkers found pavement quality poor and unsafe
  • Some crossing points dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists e.g. Kingston St – Devonshire Rd junction with Mill Rd

Pollution

  • Asthma and COPD related to pollution, which was a concern in Mill Rd area – narrow streets, tunnel effect
  • Strong community support for clean air zone not just in city centre but along Mill Rd corridor

Volume of traffic

  • Too high and too dominant
  • Restrict access and manage deliveries better
  • Support for reallocating road space to give pedestrians wider pavements
  • Some support for creating more space for cyclists; call for high quality reworking of Mill Rd

Mix of views

  • Warm feelings for Mill Rd but divergence of view eg. one person called for dedicated cycle lanes and one-way system; another person wanted no changes at all to Mill Rd

Theme 3: WELCOMING

What does a welcoming Mill Rd look like/ what would you change?

  • Mill Rd as destination
  • Pedestrian and cycling priority
  • Sort out the balance of transport nodes
  • Police and clean the area
  • Signage for orientation – mins walk e.g. from railway station
  • More seating – Ditchburn/ entrance to Cemetery

Theme 4: WELL CURATED

What does a well curated Mill Rd look like? / what do you like?

  • Diversity of style
  • David Parr House
  • Victorian terraces
  • Renovate and clean the existing architecture
  • Eclectic
  • Renovation of Hot Numbers
  • Andy Records sign
  • Mosque

CLOSING DISCUSSION

A wider discussion followed and everyone who wanted to speak was given one opportunity.  The discussion ranged between those (few) who would leave Mill Road as it was to those who would partially close it to traffic.

150+ people attended, and a collection raised £115 which went towards the £170 cost of the room.

Mill Road Vision – Public Meeting, St Barnabas Church, Tue 8 Oct 7.30pm

What’s your view about how Mill Road should evolve to meet challenges like

  • climate change?
  • the impact of online shopping on Mill Road retailers?
  • pollution / congestion?

The future of the public space on Mill Road is part of a City Council consultation called Making Space for People .

Why not come to a public meeting this evening organised by Mill Road Summer – 7.30pm at St Barnabas Church?  Explore your ideas with others including your neighbours, Cambridge’s Executive Councillor for Streets and Open Spaces, and members of the Cambridge Association of Architects?

And then please feedback to the consultation!

Agenda:

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