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We need to be safe say residents as they rush to sign ‘better walking for West Chesterton’ petition

Nick Flynn says: “We believe this petition sends a strong message that residents in West Chesterton need these vital walking links to enable quicker, safer walking that avoids the dangerous Mitcham’s corner area.”

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A petition to support proposed new walking links in West Chesterton, Cambridge, passed 175 signatures within days of launching. The ‘Better walking for West Chesterton – support our new walking links!’ petition asks for the developer of the Westbrook Centre to provide walking links to Corona Road, Lilywhite Drive and Gilbert Road as part of the proposed redevelopment.

Petitioners say the proposed walking links are supported by Cambridge City Council policy “having been included in the Mitcham’s Corner Development Framework Supplementary Planning Document, which was subject to public consultation in 2016 and adopted by the council in 2018”.

Protesters claims that although the developer included the walking links in their original plans, the most recent round of consultation in September 2023 explained how the Corona Road link had been dropped, citing “local feedback”.

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Lilywhite Drive residents next to a fence that currently blocks access to Corona Road

Lilywhite Drive residents next to a fence that currently blocks access to Corona Road

They argue that the Corona Road link is particularly important for children who attend Milton Road Primary School, “as it would provide an alternative route to school from Victoria Road that avoids the busy Mitcham’s corner area.

“The school’s catchment area includes streets off Victoria Road, including Corona Road, Green’s Road and Primrose Street”.

The “Better walking for West Chesterton – support our new walking links!” petition is available at: https://www.change.org/WestbrookWalkingLinks

Nick Flynn, a resident of Lilywhite Drive who started the petition, said: “Lilywhite Drive is accessed via a single point of entry which makes it difficult to access nearby schools, work, or other community facilities by foot.

“Walking to most destinations usually involves a long detour via Milton Road. This has posed challenges for me as I have two young children who are less able to walk long distances. I was therefore pleased to see in the original consultation for the Westbrook Centre redevelopment that the developer was proposing to provide new walking links to Gilbert Road, Corona Road, and Lilywhite Drive.

“The link to Gilbert Road would almost halve the distance my family would need to walk to Milton Road Primary School, while also making it easier to walk to other destinations like Chesterton Sports Centre.

“Meanwhile the links to Lilywhite Drive and Corona Road would provide a shortcut to destinations off Victoria Road, like Alexandra Gardens, which avoids a dangerous section of Mitcham’s corner with a narrow pavement next to two lanes of fast traffic.

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“However, I was frustrated to learn that the developer has dropped the Corona Road link from its plans. When a neighbour announced they wanted to start a petition to block a link to Lilywhite Drive, I knew I had to act to highlight the positive aspects of the proposals.

“We have received overwhelming support, not just on Lilywhite Drive from residents who are frustrated at the difficulty in walking to destinations that are actually very close by as the crow flies, but also from the wider community in West Chesterton who would benefit from these links and recognise the advantages of promoting safer walking in Cambridge.

“We believe this petition sends a strong message to the developer and local councillors that residents in West Chesterton need these vital walking links to enable quicker, safer walking that avoids the dangerous Mitcham’s corner area.

“The developer must press on with the original plan to provide links to Corona Road, as well as those to Lilywhite Drive and Gilbert Road. There should be a proportionate response to any legitimate concerns about the links, rather than an outright ban”

 Lilywhite Drive residents next to one of the potential walking links


Lilywhite Drive residents next to one of the potential walking links

Lucy Tucker from Lilywhite Drive said: “I have walked along Milton Road to my son’s nursery for three years and have always been concerned about traffic pollution, especially around Mitcham’s corner and the junction between Gilbert Road and Milton Road.

“According to the European Environment Agency, while air pollution affects everyone, children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable because their bodies, organs, and immune systems are still developing. Air pollution damages health during childhood and increases the risk of diseases later in life, yet children can do little to protect themselves or influence air quality policies, and so we need to advocate for them.

“By providing walking routes away from these busy junctions, these links will help protect the most vulnerable people in our lives. Providing local residents with better walking routes will also reduce the temptation to use polluting motor vehicles, improving air quality for everyone.”

Sarah McCarthy from Lilywhite Drive said: “Cambridge is a growing city where the limited infrastructure struggles to accommodate the vast amount of traffic that uses our streets. With plans to further increase Cambridge’s population, promoting sustainable alternatives like walking is more important than ever.

“Following the city’s rejection of the sustainable transport zone proposals for a congestion charge, and no solution in sight for the city’s congestion woes, it seems senseless to not take advantage of a free opportunity to make it easier and safer for residents to walk around their local area.”

 

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