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: