Greater Cambridge City Deal was launched with much fanfare in 2014 by the Conservative/LibDem coalition. It promised £500m of central government funds for transport infrastructure to support high quality economic and housing growth. In December 2015 a consultation document landed on the doormats of everyone in the estate, outlining two possible plans to redevelop Milton Road. Option A - "Do Something" - would see the road turned into a three lane highway with some four-lane sections, while Option B - "Do Maximum" - would turn it into a four-lane highway throughout with no grass verges or trees. In both cases the roundabout at the bottom of Highworth Avenue would be removed and traffic lights installed, access to and from Highworth Avenue from Milton Road would be removed, and turns into Arbury, Kings Hedges and Gilbert Roads would all be banned.
Concerned residents decided to unite to oppose the plans, and HPERA was born in January 2016. By July 2017 a new scheme had been agreed, which is due to start being constructed in April 2022. You can find more information and the final plans below...
The inaugural meeting of HPERA took place on 6 January 2016. A packed audience heard presentations by Michael Page of HPERA and Ed Leigh of Smarter Cambridge Transport about the implications of the proposed plans for Milton Road. The meeting resolved to raise awareness of the issue, band together with others affected, and oppose the plans. Questions were asked at a City Deal board meeting on 15 January 2016, and by February 2016 a 43-page document had been produced and presented to the City Deal Executive Board.
Save the Trees
A petition to save the trees and verges on Milton Road gained more than 4000 signatures, eventually gaining the support of councillors from across the county.
The Milton Road Local Liaison Forum (LLF) was established by the City Deal team to enable local councillors and residents' associations to engage with officers on the project. Cllr Jocelynne Scutt was elected as Chair.
Do Optimum proposed
Workshops organised by City Deal officers on various aspects of their ‘Do-Something’ design and attended by RA representatives and other interest groups. The Board agreed to our demand for a reduction of traffic lanes and committed to ‘an avenue of mature trees as a core design element along with grass verges, planting and landscaping’.
HPERA joined forces with Milton Road RA and Camcycle to under the name the Milton Road Alliance. Alternative designs are sketched out – not based on a corridor for the convenience of motor traffic but based on a liveable street for people, encouraging walking and safe cycling, as well as giving priority for buses at key junctions.
December 2016 – March 2017
‘Do Optimum’ takes root
The LLF agreed by a vote of 13-0 with 3 abstentions to adopt our ‘Do-Optimum’ plan together with a series of resolutions to put before the City Deal Executive Board at their March meeting. Although the Board meeting was cancelled, officers were instructed to carry out detailed traffic modelling on the ‘Do-Optimum’ alternative as well as the original ‘Do-Something’ plan.
Officers presented a detailed response to the LLF resolutions and results of traffic modelling on the ‘Do-Optimum’ plan, in the form of a new hybrid plan entitled ‘Final Concept’ which was endorsed by the board of the City Deal, now renamed the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP).
This was an important step forward but there was still scope for improvement – too much tarmac was devoted to bus lanes, some of which would become redundant once the proposed smart signalling systems were put in place. This was confirmed by calculations of queue length at junctions which resulted from the modelling.
2018 to now
Plans refined and approved
The LLF worked with GCP landscape consultants to refine the plans and increase planting and biodiversity at the junctions along the route. In July 2018 the GCP Executive Board approved the Preferred Design and the Strategic Outline Business Case, and in October they launched a formal public consultation. In June 2020 the final 2D design was presented.
Work is expected to begin in May 2022, and the GCP's final plan can be found here.