Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Lottery bid decision delay

Sarah Tovell at Cambridge City Council has informed us the decision on the HLF lottery bid has been delayed by the Parks for People department

Decision should now be announced on April 15

Friday, 27 March 2009

Lottery bid decision

Keep an eye on the JGA website over the next few weeks as the Heritage Lottery Fund are due to announce their decision on the council's £4.4 million bid to revamp Jesus Green.

Decision is currently due on April 6 or 7.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Strategic document for 2009

This strategic document was adopted by a unanimous vote at the JGA's EGM on March 17.

It lays out a clear statement of values for members and should be regarded as a 'mission statement' for the association in the coming year


1. Jesus Green is a most beautiful area - well-used, but a peaceful open space. It is of world heritage calibre and ranks alongside such areas as Central Park in New York and Hyde Park in London. Its relative size befits Cambridge and makes it jewel in the heart of Cambridge

2. JGA will oppose wholesale development of the green and, in particular, is opposed to any reduction in the grassed area, any reduction in the established tree population, large entrance areas, piazza areas, the widening of pathways to make expressways across the green, the building of space-age toilets and large two-storey cafes and segmentation of the green into themed play areas.

3. JGA will strongly support conservation, preservation and maintenance of the green. In particular, it wil support regular effective maintenance and drainage of the grassed areas, a comprehensive tree conservation and replacement strategy. It also supports maintenance, refurbishment of the tennis courts, the swimming pool, the children's play areas and the skateboard park. It also supports local events on the green, including the Cambridge Beer Festival, as part of an agreed and sensible schedule of events.

JGA will also strongly support the redevelopment of the Rouse pavilion to provide up-to-date cafe and toilet facilities and the maintenance of the riverside and brookside areas of the green.

4. JGA wish to avoid Jesus Green becoming a shopping experience or it becoming our own version of spaghettic junction, or even it being used to showcase the development aspirations of Cambridge City Council.

Jesus Green has served town, gown and visitors faithfully over many generations and the association believes the green must retain its essential character to serve future generations.

How to object to the proposed EDF depot

Dear JGA member,

Here is the draft letter of objection to the EDF bid that was promised at the EGM on 17.3.09 Feel free to print it up and mail it. Or you can use the following link and copy and paste it into the comments section of the council website on line.

For this, go to http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/publicaccess/tdc/DcApplication/application_comments_entryform.aspx?caseno=KEG01BDX05A00

Comments must be received by April 6. If you have time, please take a minute to tailor the letter and add a few personal touches. This will be more effective than a standard letter, but either way, it will help

Director of Environment & PlanningCambridge City CouncilThe GuildhallCambridge CB2 3QJ Dear Sir,
Planning application 09/0087/FUL: Temporary site compound on Jesus Green
I was disappointed to hear about the plans for this maintenance depot, which will occupy a prominent area of the green for at least 18 months. This compound will be a noisy, ugly and intrusive presence on one of the city's best-loved open spaces. It should be opposed for the following reasons.

-Its location is wholly inappropriate and unsuited to this area of Jesus Green. It is a very well-used space, favoured by many families in the summer, and the depot would be an unacceptable loss of green space

-It is also wrong to sandwich a depot used for the disposal of trade waste (which could be toxic or corrosive) between popular tennis courts and a major pedestrian route. Children from Park Street Primary School also use the nearby area for PE sessions and lunchtimes. The application should be opposed on health and safety grounds given the potential risk to the public’s health.

-The application contradicts the council’s stated aims in its Local Plan. Policy 4/2 says “development will not be permitted which would be harmful to the character of, or lead to the loss of, open space”, while para 4.6 adds "open space is an essential part of our natural resource base, making a significant contribution to the setting, character, amenity and biodiversity of the city.” This temporary depot does not accord with this planning policy and should be refused.

-The proposal does not accord with policy 4/11 considering conservation areas, within which this site lies. Any new structure must "respect the character and context of the site and the surrounding area". With two towering portakabins, halogen lighting, hoardings and ugly car parks, it is hard to imagine a more ugly and inappropriate development.

-Access to the depot from the substation in Thompson's Lane would be through narrow, quiet, residential streets, with sharp corners, which are unsuited to large lorries. The streets are also used by school children and I would urge councillors to reject the scheme on safety grounds.

-The depot will cause lasting damage to this area. Not just to the grass, which will struggle to recover given the previous record of EDF on the green. Four or five trees will also be felled from in the avenue running from the Jesus Green footbridge to Portugal Street to make space for the depot. The whole avenue will then be chopped down on completion of the project and replaced with 26 cherry trees…”. I believe the loss of these trees is wholly unwarranted and will have a negative impact on the green’s appearance for decades.
-Similar to the views expressed by Market ward councillors, I believe Jesus Green is a common and should be protected using laws to this effect. I do not believe the council has the power to sanction this bid as it is not the owners of the land – it is owned by the people of Cambridge.
This depot is totally contrary to the council’s aim of protecting the city’s green spaces and the features within them. I urge the councillors addressing this issue to reject this application and ask EDF to consider alternative ways to deliver these facilities. Perhaps parking in Park Street car park could be used to reduce the need for this depot.

Yours sincerely,

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Skate park update

Skate park users might be interested to know the council is looking to improve the cracks in the skate ramp.

During a walkabout with all council officers and designers associated with Jesus Green, the JGA was told the damage to the ramp was minimal and could be rectified fairly easily. This is now on the list of council to-do items and should be carried out this spring.

Upgrades and extensions to the skatepark are also on a list of potential improvements to Jesus Green put forward at the environment scrutiny meeting alongside other plans for the green (see other posts)

Please keep posting your comments - eight so far - on what you want to see happen and they will be passed on relevant authorities to show there is demand for these improvements

Minutes of EGM 17/3/9

Here are minutes of St Patrick's Day EGM at Wesley Methodist Church

Minutes of Jesus Green Association EGM

Wesley Methodist Church, Christ’s Piece, Cambridge 17th March 2009 – start 8pm

1. Martin Thompson (vice-chair) welcomed people to the meeting and conducted he election of the chairman. Peter Constable unanimously approved .

Chairman Peter Constable welcomed people to meeting – 50 people in attendance

2.Apologies – Anthony Bowen and Barbara Placido

3.Election of officers

Martin Thompson (vice-chairman), Richard Price (treasurer) and Jack Grove (secretary) unanimously elected as officers

Committee members Barbara Placido, Alex Buxton, Alan Fowlie and Anthony Bowen all approved unanimously

4. EDF maintenance depot

RP explained the plans EDF depot – area occupied, reasons for it, length of stay
Reported that Cllr Rosentiel and other councillors had opposed it vigorously, had also seen a letter from St John’s College against it.
Possible support from elements within council, who were planning to oppose the move

Described letter he sent to EDF Energy asking
- Why didn’t they do the work when the Thompson’s Lane area was clear, ie at start of hotel works? Answer said it could not be undertaken at the same time as previous EDF works "due to phasing issues of the construction".
- When did they start discussing it with the council – May 2008
- Alternative sites considered. Jesus Lane opposite ADC – not accepted by college. Ashwells site in Castle Hill – not feasible.

Four locations on Jesus Green all said to have been discussed with Cambridge City Council "and it was agreed that the site proposed was the optimum choice
Not clear what pre-planning advice had been given to EDF by the Council. RP had requested this at West/Central Area Committee meeting on 5 March. Still waiting for answer.

MT said he had been told by Active Communities that they had opposed the planning application

RP said council had tried to dissuade EDF from using the green, considered the legal status of the green (is it common land? Can council approve application), said the more people who objected the better

John Cooper – Anyone can make application even if they don’t own land

Susan Stobbs – JGA should take legal advice and threaten them with House of Lords, use the law to oppose it

PC drew attention to ‘excellent letter’ from Savills on behalf of St Johns

Jenny Cooper – is green common land. Response from Adrian Brink – yes, it had its own act of parliament

Question on who at the council agreed the plan should go ahead

Susan Stobbs – why is this base needed? Is it necessary? PC believed EDF probably had certain statutory rights when doing essential works

Questions over need for the depot raised by Roger Chatterton (extension), Richard Moss (low loaders) and JC (can’t they deliver direct to Thompsons Lane) – other comment: Can they use Park Street car park

Jo Scrivens asked how JGA members could mobilise support against the depot, suggested a standard letter that busy people could sign and even circulate in their neighbourhoods. Agreed that JG would draft and email a letter for people to sign and send off –deadline April 6. ACTION

PC suggested we get support from colleges. Trinity Hall, Magdalence, Girton and La Mimosa should all be contacted ACTION

Hazel Guest, on behalf of La Mimosa, said the restaurant would be affected by the closure of Thompson’s Lane and would oppose depot. PC said Maypole would also be against it.

Anne Garvey, of Don’t Make it Jesus Less Green, asked if the works were due to the new hotel. Answer, no, it affects half the city. Asked whether the area would be restored to former glory. PC said yes, however there was issue of felled trees. Jenny Cooper said replanted trees would not be the same. Comment that the whole avenue would be felled and replaced – no doubt due to ‘fungus and disease’.

Mary Burdett said Park St pupils would also be affected

Richard Taylor said there was need to suggest a plausible alternative and suggested a better site along the tennis courts allied with Park Street car park places. Peter Sparks did not feel JGA should have to come up with ideas, up to EDF. Jenny Cooper suggest tennis courts – JG asked about tennis players.

Adrian Brink asked who had been dealing with this at council

5. Lottery bid

PC said there was no decision yet, but it was expected soon

6. Walkabout with council and other plans

Martin Thompson detailed the February 10 walkabout. involving four councillors and seven officers. Issues touched on include damage to green from beer festival and circus and tree felling and planting policy. He will be pressing Sarah Tovell for a timetable for action on all the points noted and agreed on the walk around including more detailed tree felling and planting plans and also for details of the Council's new ‘event framework.’

JG described various plans for the green, including MUGA, informal games area, playground revamp, skate park improvements, tennis court, high wire zone, and how these had emerged. Lack of council consultation. RT added there was also biodiversity area planned. Various discussions on nature of section 106 money.

AG, who was also at walkabout, said there was now an obsession for having trees in straight lines and removing ‘native’ trees. Said tree expert Oliver Rackham believed the plain trees would live til they were 200 years old, ie another 40-80 years.

Mary Burdett raised concerns that green’s flood plain usage would be affected by development

HG asked for ramp in lido

7. Jesus Green working group

PC said he does not want it because it seeks to replace the function of the JGA
JC added he felt the council was setting up a rival organisation as relationship with JGA was uncomfortable

8. PC submitted a mission statement for consideration. Asked for line by line comment

RT said new adjustable intensity LED lighting should be embraced, while line should read ‘established’ tree population as council could say they would replace trees (with smaller ones)

JC was concerned about the ultra modern street lights, 30m tall

Calls for better drainage – it was once a great football pitch. John Lawton, SOS, called attention to compaction of soil, causing flooding.

Remove ‘mean-spirited’ comment about skatepark. Agreed. JG called litter problem to be addressed. AG said we shouldn’t pick up after litterbugs as it encourages them and normalises behaviour

Support for festivals on green. Beer festival representatives detailed the changes since moving to other side of green – some pluses, some minuses. Said £500 was paid to council after damaging tree. RP asked why that payment was never flagged by council, who had not replaced the tree or even mentioned where money was going

Motion adopted unanimously, subject to changes – put on website ACTION

9. Subscription and fundraising for JGA

RP detailed functions of JGA and why money is need and how it is spent. Council cash could disappear, and therefore need for new funding sources.. £203 in Cambridge BS, includes £40 grant from Council for hire of room for this meeting.
PC proposed that, should the JGA need to raise funds in future, all members be contacted and asked to contribute. Agreed unanimously.

PC said we needed to adopt a policy of non-discrimination in order to get funds from council – adopted by a unanimous vote

JC said rules on membership should be clarified. Motion that if you put your name and contact details down on clipboard, or contact association with them, you become member. Adopted by a unanimous vote.

PC closed the meeting at 9.35pm and thanked people for their attendance

Great turnout for Emergency General Meeting 17/3/09

Thanks for all who attended our EGM on St Patrick's Day at Wesley Methodist Church.

A great turnout with 50 people showing up to discuss several pressing issues, including the proposed EDF Energy depot behind the tennis courts for at least 18 months.

Some excellent points were raised and a clear plan of action established ahead of the plannign committee to decide the matter. There were also updates on the lottery bid, details of other plans for the green and a summary of the walkabout with council officers in February.

Peter Constable has been elected as association chair, while Martin Thompson is now vice-chairman. Richard Price is treasurer and Jack Grove is secretary.

A strategic document or 'mission statement' proposed by Peter Constable was unanimously approved by the group after line by line analysis by members. This will be useful as a mandate as we continue the work of the JGA this year.

Minutes and the statement will be posted on this website soon.