Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Reasons for the rejection of HLF bid

Here is the official reasons for the rejection of the city council's HLF bid for £3.4 million.

It was not successful because:

--'the level of new build within the application was disproportionate'
--'application did not provide sufficient evidence that the project would increase the range of audiences, conserve and improve the heritage value and improve management and maintenance'
--community opposition to the new build aspects of the bid

This shows the lottery people were basically on the same wave length as the JGA and those who protested against the plans - no grandiose schemes.

HERE IS THE STATEMENT - obtained using FOI powers

7 Cambridge, Jesus Green: PF-08-00662/1 PfPHLF 2009 (1) 7RECOMMENDATION: REJECT Cambridge City Council sought a stage one pass for £3,280,000 together with development funding of £106,000 (both 75% of eligible costs) to carry out work at Jesus Green, a 11.3ha public open space.

The Green had a long history and contained Grade II listed buildings and structures and well recognised features. The open air swimming pool was a popular and significant feature. The project would provide new park buildings, including two new cafes and toilet facilities, a community meeting room, a new entrance to the outdoor pool, and an adventure play area. Access improvements would include the development of a piazza, cycle route and a boulevard along the River Cam.

Letters of opposition had been received during assessment, with evidence of community opposition to the new build aspects of the bid. The Big Lottery Fund Head of Region had noted that the open space was already well used and considered that whilst refreshment facilities would be of value, the level of new build within the application was disproportionate.

The HLF Committee had agreed with officers' assessment that the application did not provide sufficient evidence that the project would increase the range of audiences, conserve and improve the heritage value and improve management and maintenance.

The Parks for People Committee for East of England had recommended that the application be rejected. Taking into account the contents of the paper and the feedback and recommendations from the Big Lottery Fund Head of Region and the regional committee, Big Lottery Fund Parks for People Committee and HLF Board recommended that the application for Jesus Green be rejected. - ends -

Monday, 27 April 2009

Jesus Green working party

The initial meeting of the Jesus Green working party took place on April 20.

Richard Price, Anthony Bowen and Martin Thompson attended for the JGA. Other 'stakeholders' included Anne Page, from Don't Make it Jesus Less Green, rowers and Save Our Green Spaces. Friends of Jesus Green Pool had been invited but didn't attend.

While we have concerns about the rather haphazard way things were handled, this could be a useful way to lobby for improvements on the green. As we are the dominant group (150 members, an elected board and constitution, plus wide remit of concerns), I'd hope we have the strongest voice on this working group.

Council officers are now working out how much money is available to improve the green over the next few years. There was apparently £1.1 million of council cash available when there was lottery money on the table, but it is unlikely (given the council's recent financial setbacks) this amount will materialise, and certainly not for maintenance.

For example, officers have been asked to work out the cost of replacing the playground equipment in situ as well as costing a complete move to nearer the lock (as per HLF bid proposal - although minus the cafe)

The JGA has been asked to come up with its own priorities

The obvious one are:

Playground renewal
Toilet upgrade
Tennis courts upgrade
Skate park repairs (and additions?)
Better litter facilities
New proposal for 'hammerhead' tarmac area for lorry unloading by Victoria Avenue.

Please feel free to leave your comments on what the JGA should lobby for.

Tree revamp for Jesus Green

Some more significant changes for Jesus Green are planned - this time it's the trees.

These plans will be discussed at a West /Central Area committee at the Grad Pad on Thursday, April 30 at 7.30pm following a comprehensive review of what should be done.

The main points are:

- planting of a new avenue of 20 cherry trees parallel to the horse chestnut avenue
- the removal of six trees on the avenue running from Jesus Lock to Portugal Street to be replaced by 25 Tai Haku cherry trees
- the removal of 12 'scattered' trees in the 'nature area' area towards Midsummer Common to make way for the cherry trees.
-removal of scattered trees near Jesus College ditch (those not in avenue)
- a strengthening of the east to west beech avenue --- this will eventually become the dominant visual feature on the green once the London plane tree avenue fails and is replanted
- removal of leylandii from near the tennis courts
-infill of four London plane trees on plane avenue

These seem to be influenced by the somewhat controversial plans put forward by landscape architect Robert Myers in the unsuccessful bid for lottery money, which was turned down earlier this month. Basically, the emphasis will be on having trees in straight lines.

The straggling trees near Jesus College ditch will go, as will the 12 trees in the sort of nature area near Midsummer Common, as will the leylandii. This will bring a uniformity of sorts. Previous nature themed areas will go, instead there will be striking lines of trees.

Is this the approach we want for Jesus Green? Some people regard the informality of the green as its primary virtue, but the lines of trees do provide a certain definition to the grassed areas.

There will be concerns over the replacement of the Porugal Street avenue. This is a great collection of trees despite their mixed nature and works well. Should these trees be cut down for aesthetic reasons, especially if they are replaced by smaller trees (as happened on Parkers' Piece, to not particularly great success) ?

Not too controversial are the removal of the leylandii - they are not attractive and shield views of the green from people entering the green from the boardwalk. The other scattered trees near Jesus ditch could go too without too much fuss (many of these trees will be transplanted, not felled, as they are in good shape)

There needs to be a plan, but we need to think about if this is the right one.

Does the Portugal Street avenue need to go if it could survive for another 20-30 years easily? And can't it be informally replanted when dying trees fail?

Please read the entire document (about 15 pages) and let us know what you think


The JGA intend to address the area committee and anyone else who wants to needs to register a few days in advance

Minutes of meeting with Streetscene and council officers, 23.04.09


This was the one of FIVE meetings attended by the JGA in just a few days, so many thanks to Richard Price, Anthony Bowen and Martin Thompson for giving up their time to make sure we are represented.


Jesus Green Association

Matters for discussion on Thursday 23 April 2009

Present: Sarah Tovell, Ian Ross, Mac MacDonald, Anthony French, (Active Communities), Gary Quilter (Streetscene), Richard Price, Anthony Bowen (Jesus Green Association)

1. Damage by Circus and Beer Festival in 2008
(a) what is planned by way of reinstatement?
(b) why has this been so delayed? We note that it will not now be done until after this year’s Beer Festival.
N.B. JGA is aware that the Beer Festival is a very well organised event and that, unlike those involved in some other events, the organisers always own up to any damage done and offer to pay for it.

Answers: Major improvements for the Victoria Avenue entrance are planned including a tarmac ‘hammerhead’ with space for two articulated lorries to enter and reverse to a point where they can be unloaded onto small trailers, fork lift trucks etc. The idea is to make it unnecessary for large vehicles to go onto the grass. They will try to use the topsoil from this area to fill the ruts and dips caused by circus which will also be re-seeded. Timescale: could be done in next few weeks and at most by end of summer.
Costs and plans are being sort. Once these have been received they will be added to the list of priorities for Jesus Green (as discussed at the meeting on 20th April)

2. Trees. There is great public concern about the trees on Jesus Green and their care.
(a) when can we expect to see the promised tree assessment?
(b) what post HLF bid tree work is now planned - felling/replacement/new planting etc?

Answers: Diana Oviatt-Ham (Tree Officer) is preparing a paper on trees for next West/Central Area Committee meeting on Thursday 30 April for funding approval. This will include a modified planting schedule based on the Robert Myers report. ST promised to get a copy emailed to Martin Thompson.
Contacted Diana Oviatt-Ham to reminder her to email a copy to JGA
Robert & Diana’s report will be available shortly, some minor amendments currently being made.

There is a new protocol relating to tree work throughout the city. ST has been asked for a copy.
This is still in draft, again once complete it will be sent out.

3. Main path along Plane tree avenue. Urgent need for repairs.
(a) what news is there of discussions with County Council?
(b) are Streetscene committed to using small vehicles which stick to the path instead of swerving off it to
avoid pedestrians/cyclists?

Answers: A meeting with County Council has not yet happened but is booked. Streetscene were thanked for using smaller electric vehicles and promised to keep to the paths in future.

4. Swimming pool.
(a) when can we expect to see repairs to the fences completed?
(b) what else is planned to improve the appearance of the pool and its surroundings?

Answers: Fence repairs have been booked and are imminent. Interior of pool has been repainted and looks good. New gates have been ordered and will be fitted shortly. Pool due to open early in May. See Oviatt-Ham tree paper for more info about trees.

5. Skip by swimming pool hedge. It is an eyesore and has been there for far too long.
(a) When will it be removed?

Answer: Last year, Beer Festival people mistakenly put some of their rubbish in it contaminating contents but will be clearing it out after this year’s Festival. The skip will then be removed.

6. Children’s play area.
(a) when will damaged section of fence be replaced?
(b) Have repairs to the soft surface been ordered?
(c) Fill in dips where puddles form after rain?

Answer: Discussed at length. Damaged fence will be replaced. Some equipment is costing more to maintain than to replace. Much nearing end of useful life. Plans to renew the whole thing but where to put it? Parents like present position because of shade. This will be subject of consultation after the elections.

7. Skateboard park
(a) when will the promised repairs be done?

Answer: Useful discussion with users. Some repairs successful, others not so. Sensible suggestions made by skateboarders, listened to sympathetically by Ian Ross. This is now firmly on people’s radar. ST took name of James Walker (JamesWalker@gmail.com) who seems willing to come to meetings.

8. Signage on the Green. Consists of an awful mix of styles, many very scruffy.
(a) what plans are there to improve the signage?
(b) when can we expect this to be done?

Answer: There is no specific money for new signs but there is a city-wide look at signage on/for all open spaces by Active Communities.
There is no specific money for new signage on Jesus Green, but aware this needs looking at not just here but other sites within the city as well.

9. Area around lock-keepers cottage. Looks as is some welcome tidying up has been done. Thank you!
(a) future plans for this area?

Answer: response to this Q will be in the minutes of last Monday’s inaugural meeting of the Jesus Green Working Group.
Lock Keepers cottage owned by Conservators of the River Cam.
The area around the bridge is one element of the overall view of Jesus Green that will be prioritised with all other features.

10. Rouse Pavilion. Badly in need of repairs to prevent further deterioration which will be even more costly
to repair.
(a) when can we expect this to be done?
Answer: Repairs to roof, gutters etc will be ordered. More info in minutes of Monday’s meeting (se 9 above)?
Quotes for repairs being sort.

11. Rubbish bins. Hopelessly inadequate. No wonder people leave their litter all over the Green. More and
much larger required.
(a) Why have we got to wait for the results of trials? Summer is almost upon us and once again we are still
without adequate bins!

Answers: Temporary bins have been ordered and their deployment is ‘imminent’. How long is ‘imminent’. Answer - next couple of weeks! But they are needed now.

12. Bowls Pavilion. Attempted break-in. Dangerous state of glass door.
(a) repairs?
(b) please confirm date of demolition?

Answers: Door will be boarded up with plywood. Demolition due at end of summer.

13. Tennis Courts
(a) when will the promised pressure washing be done?
(b) what plans are there for the grass courts?
(c) Jack’s queries

Answers: Pressure washing - query re access for equipment but I think it has been ordered (Street Scene). Hole in fence by gate to grass courts pointed out & repair requested. A roller has been ordered for Parkside Cricket pitch and they will try to find a way to get it over to the grass courts. There are Health & Safety issues if volunteers try to maintain courts. There once were signs on the courts but they have been removed. replacements requested.


The City Council’s Enforcement Team has been out and about e.g. pointing out to people that instant BBQs kill grass if not supported above it

There is a meeting on Friday 24 April at 10.30 in Hobson Room, St Andrew’s Street. Richard Price will attend.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

JGA website is more user-friendly

I have modified the JGA site to make it easier to comment on stories - by clicking on COMMENT tag at the top of each story.

To email stories to your friends, tap the little envelope.

If you don't want to leave a comment, you can say if you think the story was good news or bad news - interactivity has arrived

In our ceaseless drive to reach out to the people of Cambridge, I've also added some interesting features along the right hand side of the screen, such as a daily quote from Aesop, Aristotle, Einstein and famous American presidents. The youth demographic is even covered by a daily
Harry Potter quote.

Music fans can also now enjoy songs from the JGA website by clicking on clips of modern pop songs and the hits by Rod Stewart


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

More details on EDF rejection

An article will appear in Wednesday's (April 22) Cambridge News on the rejection of the EDF Energy, with comments from councillors, the JGA and EDF Energy.

Make sure you pick up a copy.

Meeting with council

A meeting with Sarah Tovell and other Jesus Green stakeholders (swimming pool group, Park Street school, park parade residents association, etc) took place on Monday, April 20.

Will report back soon on the findings in the light of the rejection of the lottery bid and EDF Energy depot application.

Support the Great Cam Cleanup

The Great Cam Cleanup will take place on Saturday, starting at the Fort St George at 10am.

The amount of rubbish retrieved during this day is truly staggering - and makes the river such a joy to enjoy.

I have enclosed a email from Camboaters chairman Luther Phillips, who is still looking for volunteers. It sounds like great fun and it would be good to see some JGA members getting involved.


Dear Friends,
The long awaited Great Cam Cleanup is nearly upon us, A BIG THANK YOU for all your support and help in advance of the day.
At the latest count over 200 volunteers have pledged their time to clean up and beautify our beloved river Cam and some of our most treasured green spaces. We aim to collect as much rubbish as we can find from the cleanup areas. River Care has kindly provided public liability insurance; gloves, litter pickers and refuse sacks. Streetscene will collect the rubbish and recyclable materials from the designated collection points alongside the river throughout the event.

Registration will commence at 10:00am at the Fort St George, at which time you can collect your litter picking equipment, sign in and have a coffee/tea or water & hot sausage roll, compliments of Gail at the Fort St George. Andrew Walters, the RiverCare Project Manager, will then give a brief health and safety chat, followed by our distinguished Mayor Cllr Mike Dixon who will declare the event open. Then it's your turn to express your environmental ethos, volunteers will be sent off to Jesus Green, Midsummer Common, Stourbridge Common & Ditton Meadows, the Backs, the towpath from the Penny Ferry to Baits Bite Lock, Baits Bite to Clayhithe and onto Bottisham Lock. In addition there will be small craft picking rubbish from the entire stretch of the river down to Bottisham Lock. The Paparazzi will probably want to have a photo call before the off, so don't be shy.

Please arrive early in order to make the registration process easier. Wear old clothes that you don't mind getting dirty and sturdy boots or wellies. If you plan to cycle, do check your bikes before the event and wear appropriate safety kit/gear. And watch out for the nettles!
Those of you starting at Baits Bite please arrive promptly at 9:45am, Dr Pip Noon of the Cam Conservancy will be there to hand out equipment and brief you.

We plan to terminate the event at 1:30pm, please return to the Fort with your equipment whence you can collect your BBQ tickets and indulge in the finest fodder cooked up by our gastronomic maestro Dave of The Cambridge Cheese Company.
If you have not already given me your name and plan to turn up on the day, I would advise you to email us ASAP to avoid disappointment; I will need your name for insurance purposes, barbeque numbers or you may like to let me know if you have any special dietary requirements.

For small craft/boats assisting with the cleanup from the water, make sure your insurance is up to date.

If you are a registered First Aider or would like to be a Team Leader do let me know.
We are creating a photo gallery on the Camboaters website, so please send your optimised photos taken on the day to the email address below.

Look forward to welcoming you on Saturday.

Thank you to all our silent partners: Paul Savoury - Tesco Newmarket Road, Nick & Co. at Treeworks, Whoover Swans by mike at blogshank.com, Steve & Tarquin - The Georgina Riverboat & Vic Lambert.


Email: camcleanup@camboaters.co.uk

Thursday, 16 April 2009

EDF depot rejected

It's been a busy week for Jesus Green.

After the rejection of the lottery bid on Wednesday, it has been announced the bid for a temporary compound on a section of Jesus Green behind the tennis courts has also been knocked back.

There has been virtually unanimous condemnation of the scheme. JGA members felt the scheme would be a terrible blight on a popular area for at least 18 months. Imagine a halogen-lit car park surrounded by 2m hoardings, with the grass destroyed by rolled-in hard standing and several trees in the cherry avenue felled. Not a pretty sight. An intrusive lay-by on Park Parade serving heavy lorries would have also been an intrusive presence.

There was also considerable support from Market ward councillors, in particular Colin Rosentiel in his comments to the Cambridge News, in which he invoked the green's common law statutes of the green to protect it.

Many members also wrote letters against the scheme, demonstrating a widespread resistance to the scheme to planning officers.

The JGA has now been informed by Simon Payne, director of environment and planning, that the scheme has been denied planning permission by senior officers under delegated powers.

The following reasons were given for the refusal:

1. The proposal woudl lead to the loss, for an extended period, of open space of recreational importance which would not be replaced elsewhere. It would also interfere with the recreational use of an area of Common Land. For these reasons it would be contrary to policy 4/2 of the Cambridge Local Plan (2006) and government guidance in planning policy guidance 17 'planning for open space, sport and recreation' (2002)

2. By virtue of its large size and untidy and makeshift appearance, the noisy nature of the activity within it, and its impact on view to and from the River Cam across Jesus Green, and towards the historic core of the city from the direction of Jesus Lock, the proposed compound would have a harmful impact on the character and appearance of the City of Cambridge Conservation Area No.1 (central), contrary to policy 4/11 of the Cambridg Local Plan (2006), and government guidance in Planning Policy Guidance 15 'Planning and the Historic Environment' (1994).

3. The proposal involves the development in an area with an unacceptable risk of flooding and has the potential to affect flows of floodwater elsewhere.


Also thanks to our elected representatives for coming out so firmly against this scheme, and also officers for moving decisively to knock this back.

PS, not sure what the appeals procedure is for EDF Energy, but there seems to be clearly laid out grounds for the refusal.

Also don't know any news on alternative sites for said compound.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Lottery bid rejected

The eagerly awaited decision on the city council's bid for £3.3 million of lottery money to revamp the green has finally been made.

It has been rejected.

While opinion has been split on the merits of this bid, most members of the JGA have been vehemently against it. At our AGM on the subject, eighteen spoke against it and only one gave it partial support

The main concern was that the £4.4 million of changes would radically alter the character of the historic unspoilt green space, turning it into a 'theme park' consisting of segmented amusement areas(high wire zone, ornamental gardens, ponds, adventure playground). It appears the lottery committee has had similar concerns about the 'heritage' gains of the bid. Our argument was the high concept ideas behind the bid ran contrary to the historic 'countryside in city' character of Jesus Green.

Other concerns included plans to fell 59 trees for aesthetic reasons - they were deemed rather randomly placed compared to the landscape architect's vision of trees in straight lines. (Cllr Smith informed the AGM that they are not decaying or diseased, as she previously thought)

Over-development was also a major concern, with many members raising doubts about the suitability of a two-storey cafe on the green, a large piazza, expanded pathways and new paved areas. These will no longer happen.

The main question must now be the future of the green. What will happen to the promised £1.1 million of match funding promised by the council? And if there is any money, how should it be spent.

There is currently not enough cash to roll the grass tennis courts this summer (as they have been in the past), making them increasingly unplayable. How much would it cost a private contractor (or a nearby college) to roll them? Several hundred pounds at most.

Will there be money to fix the crumbling footpaths, the cracks in the skate park or refurbish the toilets? Or will cash only be available to grand schemes, like the proposed MUGA (multi-use games area), which have proved unpopular with users of the green.

And how will the council consult on these plans, given the less than impressive communication with us in the past.


Bizarrely, the Cambridge News has not posted its story about the decision on its website, so here is the council's press release on the subject

Press release from Cambridge City Council

Jesus Green, Heritage Lottery Fund Application

In December 2007, Cambridge City Council was awarded a Project Planning grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to work up a project for improvements to Jesus Green. Following widespread consultation, a stage one application was submitted to the HLF in September 2008. The bid, which comprised initial proposals and outline plans, has now been assessed along with 43 other projects competing for the £20 million of funds nationally available.

This week the Heritage Lottery Fund announced to the Council that the application has been unsuccessful. The HLF panel concluded that whilst the scheme had a number of merits, the proposals did not provide for the greater range of activities they sought and they were unconvinced of the rationale for heritage lottery funding to support the development of the proposed new buildings.

The Council is very disappointed to lose out on this opportunity for external investment in Jesus Green and will be seeking further clarification on some aspects of the HLF notification letter. The Council’s bid placed great emphasis on retaining the character of the park, in rationalising buildings and creating greater accessibility. However, the Council anticipates that further dialogue with the HLF will be beneficial in understanding the decision that has been made, and is grateful to HLF for funding provided to develop the scheme to date. In particular, the Council believes considerable benefit has been gained from the project development process via the engagement and interest of so many groups and individuals.

The initial HLF Project Planning Grant funded the consultations alongside the development of a master plan for the park, an ecology survey, archaeological report, audience development plan and tree planting proposals. These plans provide high quality information that will greatly assist in determining future approaches to Jesus Green.

In preparing the bid the Council made provision for match funding. This funding is still available to take forward some elements of the bid, such as improvements to the children’s play area, the renovation of the tennis courts; removal of the old bowls pavilion and a planned programme of tree planting.

Other key elements such as improving the drainage, improvements to the paths and the refurbishment of the toilets, will need to be given careful consideration and may take considerably longer to implement as alternative funding streams may need to be sought.

During the next few months the Council will be meeting with residents and stakeholder groups to consider how to progress those improvements identified as important during the preparation of the bid. This discussion will concentrate on priorities and solutions. Our focus will be on preserving the character and enhancing the amenity value of this historic and important public open space.

Quote from Executive Councillor, Cllr Julie Smith
"While it is naturally disappointing that we weren’t successful, the HLF project planning grant did give us the opportunity to do a lot of background research, not least in developing plans for future tree planting for Jesus Green. We will make use of such reports as we work with residents and others with an interest in the Green to ensure that Jesus Green remains the fantastic open space that everyone cherishes so much.’

Quote from Labour Spokesperson, Cllr Miriam Lynn
“It’s a real shame for all Cambridge residents that this bid was unsuccessful. However, I am pleased that the Council has prioritised further consultation with residents in order to make sure that future improvements to the Green can meet the City’s needs”.

Quote from Cllr Tim Bick, Market ward councillor:
“The failure to win any outside funding is not good news for lovers of the Green, which does need new resources to continue to meet aspirations. The important thing now is to work together locally to spend what money the Council can make available to the best possible effect."