Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Skate park concerns

Some of younger users of Jesus Green have been in contact to comment on the plans

Several feel the skate park has been overlooked and needs improvement. The ramp's temporary planning permission ran out last summer, so it needs to be looked in any case. Whether it should be expanded or not is another matter.

Cinammon Francis-Burnett wrote:

I think its stupid the only thing they should do is redo the skate ramp!!! its stupidly dangerous because of the anti-graffiti paint. i broke my wrist skating on it and its just stupid because the paint makes it REALLY slippy. It also needs to be bigger, they may not realise it but there are loads of skaters in cambridge and when you go there to use the ramp its too crowded, with over 50 skaters sometimes. its a hazard and needs making larger i think.

JGA member Rupert Morgan has also contacted us asking for improved consultation with the council on possible improvements to the skate park.

Feel free to leave comments on this post

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

More plans to "improve" Jesus Green

In a recent email to executive councillor for recreation Julie Smith, our vicechairman Martin Thomson wrote:

“We hope that a spirit of shared information and collaboration can be the hallmark of 2009 and, while we will do our best to achieve this, we also look to members and officers to encourage this”.

Therefore, the JGA committee was dismayed to find plans for several major projects on Jesus Green going before committee for approval - WITHOUT ANY CONSULTATION WITH US.

These were plans to install a 'high wire zone' , a biodiversity zone and expand the skate park on Jesus Green (completely separate to any lottery proposals), so committee members Richard Price and Peter Constable attended a community services scrutiny meeting on January 15.

It was here we learned for the first time that there are several ADDITIONAL developments planned for Jesus Green

These were:

- a £74,500 informal games area
-a £138,000 refurbishment of the park ---- both pending the HLF bid

+ a multi-games games area costing £95,000 and a £185,000 Jesus Green play area, which are to be included in a new procurement process.

All these items had apparently been put before a West/Central area committee and were now going before the executive councillor for arts and recreation for approval.

This was the first time the JGA had heard about these plans - despite the fact we were set up (using a city council grant) with the very purpose of improving consultation with the public over Jesus Green. It is quite staggering that these significant changes only come to our attention when they are being approved at committee level.

There is great disappointment among committee members that the spirit of cooperation and consultation promised by the council has not been backed up with action. Why was no member of the committe told about these plans?

Instead, we are expected to trawl through every line of the 450 pages of community services scrutiny report (which was admittedly in the public domain) to discover what they have planned for the green.

We have been assured that despite the approval of all these plans, this is only the green light so that consultation can begin. Can we not have consultation first? So plans are drawn up, officer time devoted to these ideas and it is only then that they ask whether people want these things. Surely this is the wrong way round?

FOR AN EXTENSIVE REPORT ON THE NEW JESUS GREEN PLANS, PLEASE GO TO -courtesy of citizen blogger Richard Taylor

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Wooden pavilion

The wooden pavilion on Jesus Green is currently scheduled to be knocked down.

However, any scheme to improve the green would not occur for at least another two years, so it will remain derelict during this time and is likely to be vandalised or defaced. Knocking it down would create an unsightly space unless a suitable landscaping scheme were introduced.

Could this building be put to productive use? Given the new spirit of partnership between the independent punters operating off La Mimosa and the city council, maybe it could be handed to them in the summer months as a storage or commercial space. If it is in proper use, it is less likely to be defaced.

It could also encourage the independent punters to establish greater supervision/maintenance of the tennis courts.

What do members think of this proposal. Or could it be used in a different way. Send comments to

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

JGA AGM main minutes (draft) 2/12/08


Minutes of the Annual General Meeting, held by kind permission of the minister and stewards of the Wesleyan Methodist Church on Short Street at 8pm on Tuesday, 2nd December 2008. John Cooper, chairman, presiding.

The chairman welcomed the many who attended – about 100 – and thanked the minister and stewards for permission to use the church itself.
Agenda had been posted, and were available on seats.

Apologies: Naomi Needs, Gill Simmonds, Anne Syfret.

There were no matters arising not due to arise.

Richard Price (Hon. Treasurer) spoke to the accounts. There were no questions. He thanked Victoria Zeitlyn for auditing them. It was agreed to seek the same auditor next year.

The Chairman reported the activities of the executive committee orally.
Five formal meetings had been held. There had also been several meetings on the Green and contact with officers of the city council and Cllr Julie Smith, executive councillor for leisure and recreation.
He recalled the terms of the association’s foundation: that it should work with but be independent of the Council; that it should encourage good use and discourage bad use of the green, seek its good maintenance and develop it in line with its existing qualities.
He noted the successful shift of the Beer Festival to a site east of the plane tree avenue, and thanked both officers and the festival organisers.
He noted the discreet use of their PA system by ‘Race for Life.’
He thanked Mr David Coventry, head of Street Scene, for attention to the grass and to litter; he thanked Anglia Ruskin students for helping to clean Jesus Ditch, and the boat people and others for similar work on the river bank.
He noted the period of heavy rain which made the green too fragile to take the circus when it came (it should have gone elsewhere); its lorry drivers ignored instructions.
Finally he noted the council’s preparation of a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for nearly £4.4 million to help refurbish and develop the green’s amenities. The executive committee had been able to comment in the summer and to achieve some modifications before the final draft went off in September (the timing had been unfortunate, consultation being difficult in summer); in particular the proposed diagonal path to the Victoria Avenue bridge had been dropped. Reservations were expressed about a two-storey cafe and increased lighting, and about the clash of pedestrians and cyclists on a widened towpath; the increased burden of maintenance was queried.
He then offered the floor for comments.

Nineteen members of the public, one member of the committee and three councillors spoke, as well as Cllr Julie Smith and Sarah Tovell, green spaces officer.
Some were for rejection of the bid in its entirety; some thought it over the top (‘grandiose’ was the word often used); others pointed to many items (18 were listed on the agenda in total) which needed attention.

Items which found favour among public comments expressed included
new toilets;
a move for the children’s playground, with a one-storey cafe nearby;
resurfacing of the hard tennis courts;
replacement of failing trees (chestnut canker is a spreading and unstoppable disease) and some new planting;
repair of paths
improvement of skateboard park
better drainagage

However, approval of some of these items also included disapproval of certain details; many opinions about the tree problem were expressed.

Items which did not find favour among public comments expressed included
a two-storey cafe;
a ‘piazza’ (for fear of too much suburban concrete);
a widened towpath (allowing faster cycling);
the ‘performance’ area;
stronger lighting (but the opposite opinion was also expressed).

Items not discussed included ornamental planting, a wild-flower meadow, an adventure playground, removal of wooden pavilion, hydroelectric plant

Many thought the consultation had been poor. Some queried the costings. There was much regret that the swimming pool was not part of the bid.

Cllr Julie Smith, supported by Sarah Tovell, explained the ‘signing off’ process, and said that the bid needed to be big, both in order to meet the HLF’s interests. They said it could be scaled down if it were successful, but not up. Some of the maintenance blight noted was inevitable in order not to jeopardise the bid while being made, but the use of section 106 money for more immediate work was not made clear.
The bid was at stage one, the stage of seeking support in principle; no proposal was bound to be implemented. We would know in the spring what support we would get, if any; then stage two would begin, a stage of detailed consultation; it would probably last a year.
Cllr Smith said she was willing to do site visits with any one who wished.

There were some further comments. The Chairman resisted calls for a vote as no suitable motion had been proposed. He observed that he would not be continuing in office, having done his time (Cassie Sparks stood down also) and put forward the names of Richard Price, Martin Thompson, Anthony Bowen (who represents Jesus College at the committee’s invitation), Alexandra Buxton, Barbara Placido and Allan Fowlie as Committee members. They were agreed.
Finally he urged all present to take part at least by responding as requested on the agenda, and closed the meeting.
John Cooper (chairman)

Footnote: 47 people left their details and some opinions. The predominant view is not dissimilar from the report above: there is much desire for maintenance and improvement of what exists, but great dislike of novelty.

NB Owing to irregularities which have come to light in the transaction of necessary business at the AGM, an Extraordinary General Meeting will be held at 7.30 for 8.0 p.m. on Tuesday 17 March 2009 at the Wesleyan Methodist Church by kind permission of the minister and stewards.

A summary of comments made at the meeting have been recorded in an appendix to these minutes.

Comments left in questionnaires at JGA's AGM 2/12/08


Concerned that they amount to over-development. Don’t want the common to be urbanised

Good – toilet upgrade, new litter bins, the maintenance, general maintenance and replanting

Many good ideas – keep it modest and subtle

In so far as conservation is involved, fine

Reconsider the proposed hard landscaping – points 1, 3, 4, 7 – improve the ditch, not anything else

Let’s improve what is here but be careful not to add too much the built up area

New children’s playground, yes – adventure playground, no – two-storey café, no – smaller café at pool would be OK. Tree replacement plan (particularly for chestnut trees) is very important

Huge expenditure will, overall, give us a space lacking its current appeal, Consultation unsatisfactory (eg, Friends of Jesus Green Pool quoted as supporting – I’m one, but had no request for a view or info)

Please don’t overlook the skatepark and deal with the cracks soon

The money should be spent on maintenance of pool, greens, litter – perhaps a groundsman employed

The need for further community consultation and evidence that it has been listened to and taken into account

7,000 unique hits, soliciting 150 comments on website, is insufficient ‘consultation’. Scheme is over the top

Improve swimming pool, maintain greens, clean brook, rather than extra unnecessary things

Worth further discussion but aiming to have less concrete (performance/ piazza)

Generally very positive – too much negativity

Generally speaking in favour – one or two exceptions, no extra path, children’s play too close to Victoria Avenue

Good – without buildings

Some aspects, but too grandiose. New café is likely to prove uneconomic, new piazza a white elephant as well as intrusive. Consultation process was inadequate

The city council should maintain and refurbish the existing facilities, including the pavilion and lavatories

Please do not build a cafe or hard pave any new area as they presently would

Overall good, but piazza not needed. Bridge is too narrow

Maintaining what is there is more important

It seems unnecessary to apply for lottery funding when basic improvements could already be paid for

Some are essential – maintenance. I wonder why the council can’t pay for them anyway. All proposals to improve existing features are acceptable to me. Proposals that ask for building work or concrete area are not. I think there needs to be a lot more consultation with local residents.

I very much hope the plans will be scaled down should the lottery fund be granted. Jesus Green is one of the few almost ‘rural’ areas in the city where one can walk and enjoy solace. Do 59 trees really need to come down – also which ones?

Over-ambitious – nothing wrong with some sensible improvements, but far too grandiose.

Why was the renovation of the swimming pool not included in the bid? This very important.

Need to focus on improving the tennis courts – everything other is pretty much unnecessary, not enough consultation either.

I agree with some of the proposals, but am concerned about the possibility of some of the green space being overtaken by brick/concrete, etc

Concentrate on repair and maintenance of pool and green space

Too grandiose, too commercial. Jesus Green needs repair and maintenance: mend paths, mend skateboard area, improve playground, improve swimming pool and toilets and tennis courts: replace dying trees

Please make the future consultation more transparent

Agree with repair and maintenance improvement of existing facilities, but not with new paths, piazza and two-storey café and further concreting

They are the single most devastating proposals ever for Jesus Green


The green open spaces
Trees, grass
Expansiveness, trees, use as a ‘village green’
Unstructured green space and pool
The openness, green space and trees
Open space and trees
The trees
The plane tree avenue
The fact that it is so open and green and therefore a multi-use space
The open green space for people to use as they wish
Wide open spaces
Trees, green space, paths
The green space and swimming pool
The informal, historic open space, which is widely used
Green open spaces
Sunday music concerts. Seeing tourists enjoying themselves in summer
Its permanence
The pool, the plane trees, the open mown grass areas
It’s a nice place to walk/sit, etc
The open green space, trees and undeveloped nature of this area
Swimming pool
The sense of open, uncluttered grassy space (well used) by multitudes of all ages
The avenue of plane trees, the open informal space
The greenery, the pool
The diversity of use
Pool and open space
The plane tree avenue


Condition of the paths and heavy vehicles causing damage
Café, piazza, pirate boat and concrete
Poor maintenance of pool
The toilets are very sad
Level of maintenance, state of toilets
Lack of proper maintenance, supervision (eg, the main plane tree avenue gaps are still not replanted)
Litter, poor maintenance
Vandalised structures, eg benches, overflowing litter bins, damage to trees by vehicles constructing and deconstructing events
Rubbish in ditch
Litter/skate park
Cyclists riding over the bridge, the bleak demeanour of the lockkeepers house, overflowing bins in summer
Poor drainage and maintenance, litter, damage by council vehicles across green areas
The pool, state of paths and loos
Toilets, lighting, play area, narrow bridge
State of paths
The toilets – they never feel safe or clean – and they are closed too early. The uneven paths make them awkward to walk on
Overflowing litter bins, neglected brook, poor condition of toilets
Stressed chestnut trees
The general maintenance
State of grass tennis courts, which are appalling, but could be wonderful
The poor state of the playground for my children
State of pool
Litter, barbecues
Litter, poor maintenance of paths, seats, loos
Poor maintenance

JGA AGM Minutes (draft)

This summary of public comments made at the JGA annual general meeting at Wesley Methodist Church on December 2, 2008, will form part of the meeting's minutes

Full minutes to follow

MINUTES ---------AGM of Jesus Green Association 2/12/08
Anne Garvey, spokeswoman for Don’t Make it Jesus Less Green, said her group had collected nearly 200 signatures against the HLF bid. She added “We do not like the scheme or any aspect of it” Questioned the need to bulldoze pavilions and urged the council to “conserve and preserve”, rather than press ahead with the plans.
Daniel Zeichner said the scheme was “grandiose” and should concentrate on what was good about the green. Urged council to listen to people more carefully.
Andy Smart asked why the plans were not on the internet, adding the consultation had been “a scandal”. Said council needed to do more to keep in touch with people.
Peter Constable said consultation had been a “mess” and felt the bid was “greedy” as it was a too large a slice of cash on offer for the whole country. Added it would be “worst thing ever to happen to Jesus Green”.
Neil Andersen said he was “horrified” at the scheme. Praised the current green’s use for varied groups and was particularly worried about the removal of trees. Called for more supervision of green.
Rupert Morgan said the skate park was falling apart and should be overlooked.
Susie Stubbs called the scheme “over the top” and called for improvements to the pool as it was too cold for most people.
Bronwen Hipkin questioned why council tree officers had been excluded from preparation of plans in favour of external contractors.
Boni Sones said lido should follow example of London pools which are heated and open all year round. Said plans overlook state of pool completely.
Jane Tienne said green was regarded as a garden by many residents without their own and urged them not to turn green into a “commercial theme park” for out-of-towners.
Richard Cook called for better maintenance of the green instead of current plans.
Jo Lushley said green was used by all ages, but needed more maintenance, in particular benches which had been damaged.
Sean Munro said the scheme would improve the green for a diversity of people and benefits should not be overlooked.
Richard Taylor questioned Cllr Julie Smith, executive officer for recreation, as to why the final plans were not available on the council website, despite assurances that would be. Concerns that claims over ‘dying’ trees were incorrect as he inspected them and they were healthy.
Cllr Smith admitted aspects of scheme did not have public approval and therefore may not get planning approval. Said it would be irresponsible to play down the bid as it could always be scaled back, but smaller bid could not be supplemented.
John Lawton, chairman of SOS, wondered how the consultation had translated into the current plans as they did not relate to his input, which focused on maintenance.
Cllr Clare Blair insisted councillors had scrutinised the bid, but admitted she had not read the final bid in full. Said consultation was ongoing.
Cllr John Hipkin said the logic behind the bid appeared to be putting in for “as much as you can” and scaling back scheme when the council inevitably receives less. Urged council to keep the open space character of green.
Cllr Tim Bick said the green was the ‘live and let live’ green and felt “outaged” that people were trying to close down the bid at this early stage.
Other speakers raised issue of cracked footpaths, broken benches and nature of proposed performance area..
Clarifications on bid process were offered by council officers Sarah Tovell and Debbie Kaye. Meeting also attended by two PCSOs, green spaces officer Alistair Wilson and council leader Ian Nimmo Smith

Improvements to the tennis courts

If the status quo prevails Jesus Green's grass courts will be scrapped when the city council finds enough money to concrete over them.
I feel this would be a shame as they have been enjoyed by generations of players and need only slightly more maintenance to restore them to their former glory/

This is a draft plan which the JGA will submit to the city council on the future of the courts
To have your say on them, email comments to


Current state of Jesus Green courts

There are currently four grass courts and two concrete courts on Jesus Green. These are currently very well-used, particularly in the spring and summer months. The concrete courts are the most popular as the surface of the grass courts is not very good.
In fact, it has been practically impossible to play a decent, competitive match on some of the grass courts in recent years because the surface is so uneven, with the ball shooting off in strange directions if hit with any speed. The worse affected areas are at the back of the court, where reseeding is an issue, and most damage occurs.
Sometimes footballers have been known to play on the grass courts.
However, they are the only grass courts in the city and it is likely grass court play, which many find the most enjoyable type of tennis, will be lost forever.
Surface of hard courts is actually very good – court close to tree needs spraying with moss killer, but surface works well and dries very quickly. Replacement surface not needed as it stands.

Courts have been periodically supervised by staff from Jesus Green swimming pool, but last summer their visits were so infrequent that there is now the assumption that courts are free. This has sometimes proved a problem as certain players (mainly on the hard courts) play for hours without regard for others waiting. Often, these players are university students (who have their own courts), but the worst offenders are foreign students, who see no reason to move on after a reasonable session of play.

Other issues include footballers kicking the ball repeatedly against the grass court fences as they play keepy-uppies. Problem is exacerbated by the solid steel fence at the back of the court, which rings out when struck with a ball (traditional tennis court fences are made from wire, dampening the sound). Confrontations between tennis players and footballers are not uncommon as it is practically impossible to concentrate with frequent booming sound of footballs hitting the fence.

Certain corners of the courts have also been damaged by footballers and tennis players climbing over to retrieve balls in grass courts. There are also small holes where some people climb through.

Repainting of lines is also an issue. Grass and hard court lines are generally well executed, but could be repainted more often.

Nets are fairly old and have been vandalised or damaged. Grass court nets are in better shape and hard court nets from 2008 should be totally replaced as there are holes in them. There are also problems with adjustment of nets. There are no handles on net winders – unlike courts on Christ’s Piece – and often nets are very low. Improvised instruments (old cans, sticks, bottles) are used to raise the net, but winders should be introduced or available from Jesus Green lido.

Hard courts are also used for netball practice by Park Street Primary School and other youth groups, though not competitive matches. Nets need to be dismantled for this and reset afterwards – lack of winders makes this problematic for tennis players following netball sessions.

Suggestions to improve courts

JGA should liaise with city council’s maintenance/groundsmen about the preparation of courts – plan of maintenance (January to April) should be agreed. Should include rolling of courts and better reseeding of worn-out areas – mowing the grass is not enough in itself.

Procuring funds for new tennis nets – would totally rejuvenate hard courts

Attachment of net winders

More frequent painting of lines

Installation of signs asking people to play for no more than 30 minutes or one set if others are waiting. Signs outside asking people not to kick balls against metal fence – wooden ones (gold on green) preferable but cheaper options possible (metal with black lettering) or possibly just laminated plastic signs.

Efforts made to encourage volunteer participation in the maintenance of the courts – keys to grass courts should be made available to the JGA, equipment (including grass roller, brushes, rakes, grass seed) could be purchased/procured from council stores and stored in pavilion or Rouse toilet building).

Arrangements could be drawn up for supervision/payment in peak months.
This could be operated by lifeguards at lido or by trustworthy punt operator cashiers, who are ideally placed to collect court fees (suggestion: £3-5 an hour). Money could be reinvested in maintenance of the courts.

Greater communication between city council and JGA on plan of action for the tennis courts – contact established with council officers in charge of green spaces/maintenance.

Repair to the holes in court fencing.

Need to encourage more children to play tennis. Racquets could be handed out from lido at a cost (combined with deposit). Sadly, local youngsters do not use it often and best juniors playing there are foreign. Perhaps regular coaching sessions could be arranged there (subject to demand) and even a small tournament with prize could occur on a summer day – scope for volunteer participation here.

JGA should ask for access to the pavilion, where tennis activities/equipment could be based.
To be agreed by Jesus Green Association committee and submitted to Cambridge City Council.

JGA Emergency General Meeting

The Jesus Green Association are holding an emergency general meeting at Wesley Methodist Church, off Christ's Piece, Cambridge, on March 17 (St Patrick's Day) at 7.30pm.

Items on the agenda include the election of a new committee, including the appointment of a new chairman (applications welcome), the HLF bid and beyond, and the future of the committee.

Planned improvements on Cambridge's open spaces

The JGA has raised concerns that the plans recommended for approval at the city council's community scrutiny committee had not been shown to our association, which wasset up to improve consultation with local residents.

In particular, the main proposal for the high-wire adventure area was a source of anxiety as the general view of members was against such large capital projects, which would reduce the open space feel of the green.

We, therefore, requested the plans were deferred.

After several emails to Cllr Julie Smith, we have been assured that consultation will take place on the plans, which best match the section 106 criteria in the open spaces agenda.
They will not proceed either with the plans until the result of the HLF bid is known, which is likely to be in March

To view the relevant section of the committee meeting, see below. There is a link to the full agenda at the bottom of the page (proposals listed in priority order)

The Executive Councillor is recommended to approve the following items:
That the following ideas are to be adopted (in this ward based priority order) for inclusion into the Open Space and Recreation S106 programme.

West/ Central Area
TW019/WC/D 'Natural Play Zone - Jesus Green' Natural play zone, introducing high wire zones & awareness of bio diversity
TW007/WC/A Additional Hard tennis Courts on Jesus Green
TW009/WC/A Expansion/Extension of Skate Park - Jesus Green

Other projects put forward for city-wide approval include: formal picnic and BBQ facilities in larger city-wide parks, exercise stations around open spaces (there is one outside Parkside Pool)
and Signage on green spaces showing distance around the green space .

Heritage Lottery Plans

Detailed plans of the £4.4 million HLF bid can be found on the city council's website.

To view the plans, go to

Costings of the bid are not on the council's website, but are in the final HLF application. To view how much each element of the plans costs, go to - with acknowledgement to citizen activist Richard Taylor, whose meticulously copied the figures from the final bid document.

Welcome to the Jesus Green Association

This site is dedicated to all matters concerned with Jesus Green, one of Cambridge's most popular and best-loved open spaces.

If you would like to become a member of the JGA, please email your details to To become a member please send your full name, address (including postcode), contact number and email.

We will try to update our members on all issues relating to Jesus Green, including the status of the current £4.4million bid by Cambridge City Council to the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve the green.

We also hope to improve volunteer involvement on the green, lobby relevant authorities for improved maintenance for key areas on the green and keep interested parties informed about any changes or events on Jesus Green.

If you have any comments on how the green could be improved and how this can be achieved, please email the above address with your comments