Friday, 5 October 2012

Book now lecture on Thursday 11 October - an evening with Griff Rhys Jones

Griff Rhys Jones

Griff Rhys Jones, President of Civic Voice – and a renowned comedian, actor, TV presenter and author – is coming to Cambridge on Thursday 11th October and as part of his visit will speak at a special event hosted by local charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future (CambridgePPF).

At an exclusive, ticket-only talk at the Mill Lane Lecture Theatres, Griff will share his passionate views about the built environment and its impact on quality of life. He will also talk about recent changes in national planning policy; the green belt; his work for Civic Voice; and how civic societies (such as CambridgePPF) can encourage people to engage with their local community and get involved in decision making to help shape the future of the urban environment.

Griff – a passionate champion of architecture – was appointed President of Civic Voice in 2010. Civic Voice believes that everyone has the right to live somewhere they feel proud of and represents societies across England that strive to make places more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive.

As a graduate of Emmanuel College, Griff is very familiar with Cambridge and is well aware of the local growth agenda and pressures on the city’s surroundings. Last year he was one of more than 800 individuals who signed a petition opposing the extension of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel along the river corridor.

The evening event will follow a private tour of the city’s historic centre and new station quarter, which will allow Griff to assess the scale of recent and ongoing local developments.

Griff said: "It was wandering around the streets of Cambridge in the seventies, often in the company of opinionated and mouthy fellow undergraduates, that helped shape my appreciation of good urban environment. Cambridge, like any city, is a lot more than the sum of its show-pieces, or a means to efficiently market nick-nacks or exploit tourists. I hope we can debate and discuss why it is still one of the most exciting places to be in Britain and, crucially, how it can remain so."

Robin Pellew, Chairman of CambridgePPF, said: “We are delighted to welcome Griff Rhys Jones to Cambridge for this special event. His visit is extremely timely. The growth agenda is dominating local news headlines, there is increasing pressure on the green belt, and the first round of council consultations about how the city might evolve over the coming decades have just concluded. This is an essential event for the many people across Cambridge who are campaigning to keep it special. We look forward to a lively evening and to sharing thoughts and ideas with Griff in his role as president of Civic Voice.”

Event details:
Location: Event to be held at Mill Lane Lecture Theatres in central Cambridge.
Address: 8 Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 1RX.
Tickets: Free to members of CambridgePPF (bring your card), £5 non-members. Payment accepted on the door.

PLEASE NOTE ADVANCE BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL: e-mail or call Lorna on: 01223 243830 x 201

Car parking: Available at Lions Yard Car Park or Double Tree Hilton Hotel (charges apply).
Cycle parking: At nearby railings.
Public transport: Bus services to city see: (10 mins from bus station / 20 mins from train station)
Disabled access: For disabled parking contact custodian on: 01223 338275. Lecture room and WC fully accessible. Infra-red hearing enhancement system on site.


About Cambridge Past, Present & Future:
CambridgePPF is a registered charity campaigning to keep Cambridge and its surroundings special by positively influencing planning developments, delivering environmental education and managing the green spaces and historic buildings in its care. The charity was founded as Cambridge Preservation Society in 1928. Today its diverse property portfolio includes Wandlebury Country Park and its Iron Age Ring; Coton Countryside Reserve; Barnwell Leper Chapel; Bourn Windmill; Hinxton Watermill; plus various wildlife sites and historic buildings. Key achievements include protecting sites such as Grantchester Meadows, the Gog Magog Hills and Wandlebury Estate from development and helping to establish the Cambridge Green Belt in the mid 1960s. CambridgePPF has a growing membership, which makes a vital contribution to the cost of conserving, managing and developing its sites. With its HQ at Wandlebury, the charity has a mix of busy full and part-time staff and is run by a Board of Trustees together with Advisory Committees staffed by dedicated volunteers. For more information about the charity and benefits of membership: / 01223 243830. Cambridge Past, Present & Future, Wandlebury Ring, Babraham, Cambridge, CB22 3AE

About Civic Voice:
Civic Voice is the national charity for the civic movement. We work to make the places where everyone lives more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive and to promote civic pride. We speak up for civic societies and local communities across England. We believe everyone should live somewhere they can be proud of and we know how people feel about places because we feel the same way. Civic societies are the most numerous participants in the planning system. Civic Voice has been joined by over 290 civic societies with 75,000 members. Further information is available at including how to join Civic Voice (£10 individuals) and contact details for local civic societies.

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Thursday, 26 July 2012

Charity calls for councils to cooperate in response to City’s Issues & Options report

Planners at Cambridge City Council, and their counterparts at South Cambridgeshire and the County, need to work together to create a common strategic framework for the sub-region that would enable local plans and the forthcoming transport strategy to be prepared in an integrated way. That’s the conclusion of local charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future (CambridgePPF) in its formal response to the City Council’s Issues & Options report.

Robin Pellew (Chair of CambridgePPF) and Peter Landshoff (Chair of  CambridgePPF's Planning Committee)

Peter Landshoff, Chairman of the CambridgePPF Planning Committee, said: “The fact that our three local authorities are undertaking separate consultations, at different times, made it very difficult to make a sensible response to the Issues & Options report published by the City Council. We strongly urge that at the next stage, the three local councils produce a joint framework to provide a common vision and development policy. It is only by taking a comprehensive strategic review of the whole Cambridge sub-region that rational decisions can be made about its future.

Despite the difficulties posed by responding to disparate consultations, CambridgePPF has filed constructive comments to most of the issues set out in the City Council’s report. The charity’s response follows weeks of scrutiny by its volunteer planning committee.

Robin Pellew, Chairman of CambridgePPF, said: “We accept the urgent need to build a significant number of new houses both to sustain the economic prosperity of Cambridge and to provide more affordable housing for key workers. But rather than focusing on the separate
targets, we believe that City and South Cambs should pool their housing projections. What matters is the combined total – the bigger picture.”

“Although the City’s Issues & Options report presents a clear and balanced analysis of the issues facing Cambridge, our team found the process of compiling a response extremely frustrating. It is unrealistic to be asked to make judgements about the future of the city in isolation from its wider sub-regional context. Under the new Localism Act, the three authorities have a statutory duty to cooperate in relation to the planning of sustainable development, and we feel that this will be met only through the production of a shared
strategic framework. We have written to the leader of each local authority to urge them to get their acts together. If you take the not unusual situation of someone living in a South Cambs village, who works in the City and sits in a traffic jam twice a day, that is the responsibility of the County Council – so you can see the logic of calling for joined-up planning.”

Forced to decide which of the Council’s four housing projections would be most acceptable in the period to 2031, CambridgePPF agreed on Option Two – the city’s minimal proposal for 12,700 dwellings. This figure is based on existing housing commitments of 10,612 new homes
already agreed in the current local plan, together with a further 2,060 dwellings – the location of which have already been identified within the city.

Crucially this approach will not require any further encroachment on the green belt – which fits with the charity’s green belt policy. Having supported previous fringe developments, CambridgePPF does not support further release of green belt land at the present time –
except in very special circumstances. Such circumstances do not currently exist when there is adequate land for housing in South Cambs in locations with good public transport.

Additional key points covered by CambridgePPF’s response include:
  • CambridgePPF believes that the very different housing predictions contained in the Issues & Options report indicate that any demand forecasts will – at best – be imprecise. But this does not really matter. Since there is little prospect that the pressure for expansion will diminish, the likelihood is that all viable locations will be developed in due course. Authorities should therefore be prioritising the possible locations that can be developed progressively in response to demand, rather than choosing now how many houses need to go where over the next twenty years.
  • CambridgePPF believes that priority for the limited supply of land within the city should be given to encourage the creation and retention of jobs. Sites currently in employment use should not be converted to housing with jobs driven out of the city.
  • CambridgePPF believes that the Cambridge area needs to be kept attractive but also made more interesting, especially for people outside the universities. This will help ensure the future happiness and health of all local residents, and satisfy the needs of companies that need to recruit and retain staff in an increasingly competitive global market. Building a multi-functional community stadium to provide much-needed integrated sports facilities for the whole sub-region would be a great way to achieve this. However, the charity feels that Trumpington is the wrong location, mainly for transport reasons. Other locations should be investigated, including the North East Fringe, which will have excellent public transport links via the new Science Park Station, the guided bus and the A14.
  • Because land in the City is so precious, CambridgePPF believes there should be a survey of existing usage. Where buildings are sub-standard or space is wasted, for example on extensive surface level car parking, consideration should be given to demolition and rebuilding to a higher density. CambridgePPF has asked that such an exercise be applied urgently to the area around the proposed new Science Park station. Also, is there scope for building above the large areas of rail track?
  • It is important that any new housing plans take into account the alarming increase that is likely to occur in the number of older people. CambridgePPF believes that all new homes should include the provisions of lifetime elements that enable frail or suddenly disabled people to stay in their own homes for as long as possible.
Having submitted its response to Cambridge City Council, the CambridgePPF team is now embarking on the same process for the SCDC consultation, which runs until the end of September.

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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Keep Off the Green Belt says CambridgePPF

As the deadline for the City Council’s consultation about the future shape of Cambridge approaches and the debate heats up about whether the city could sustain up 25,000 new properties around its fringe, local charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future (CambridgePPF) has come out firmly against further release of the green belt. 
Robin Pellew and Peter Landshoff (Chair of CambridgePPF's internal Planning Committee) looking at one of the proposal sites within the Green Belt

In the light of current development pressures, CambridgePPF has reviewed its green belt policy. The charity that campaigns to keep Cambridge special calls for a ‘presumption against development’ in the green belt to be made explicit in both the City and South Cambs (SCDC) local plans – a move that would bring the plans into line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that was recently released by the Government.

CambridgePPF argues that development in the green belt should be allowed only in exceptional circumstances, and that such circumstances will not prevail when adequate land for housing is available in South Cambs, in places where good transport links can be provided. Furthermore, if any land is to be released around the city, priority should be given for meeting the needs of business and employment.
The charity is also calling on the City Council and SCDC to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the quality and value of the green belt as the basis for a new joint policy on its future – an exercise CambridgePPF would be keen to participate in.

The news comes just a few days ahead of CambridgePPF submitting its formal response to the City Council about its Issues & Options report. The report contains a number of suggested housing options – the largest of which would need ten substantial sites around the city fringe in the green belt.
Robin Pellew, Chairman of CambridgePPF, said: “The green belt plays a vital role in preventing urban sprawl and protecting the setting of our historic city. We do not accept that there is any justification to release more land from the green belt when reasonable alternative sites are available in the region. We have in the past approved the limited release for expansion of the city, but if the local authorities persist in raiding the green belt every time the local plan is reviewed, its status becomes worthless.”
“We strongly believe that for the foreseeable future, any new housing – above and beyond what has already been approved – could be located in parts of South Cambs with good transport links, while the City gives priority to providing employment. We are a forward looking organisation and realise that the green belt cannot be treated as sacrosanct for all time, but it does play a key role in keeping Cambridge such an attractive place to live and maintaining the historic fabric of the city.”
CambridgePPF’s green belt policy states that:
  • The green belt continues to play a vital role in maintaining Cambridge as a compact city and there is absolutely no need to change its current boundaries
  • In line with the NPPF, there should be a ‘presumption against development’ in the green belt
  • Development in the green belt should only be approved under very special circumstances
  • ‘Very special circumstances’ will only prevail when it can be demonstrated that the benefit from a development, accruing not just to the local community but also to the wider population of Cambridge, clearly outweighs the benefit of the land remaining as part of the green belt
  • These circumstances do not apply at the moment – particularly when reasonable alternatives for development exist in South Cambs
  • A case can be made for the modest expansion of villages in the green belt to help safeguard essential services, like the village shop, pub or bus route
  • The wider public benefits of the green belt should be actively assessed and promoted by local authorities, landowners and stakeholders.

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Monday, 16 July 2012

Charity says latest pub decision should set precedent for those still in peril!

Charity says latest pub decision should set precedent for those still in peril!

This week the Planning Inspectorate dismissed an Appeal from the owners of the Carpenters Arms against the City Council’s decision to refuse permission to redevelop the public house into private accommodation.

Local charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future (CambridgePPF) welcomes this decision by planning officials and believes that recent appeal decisions should now set a precedent when it comes to deciding the future of other city pubs that remain under threat.

Carolin Gohler, Chief Executive of CambridgePPF, said: “The news that the Planning Inspector has thrown out the Carpenters Arms appeal is a great boost to the future of other Cambridge pub properties that remain in peril. It confirms that new national planning policies must include substantiated evidence that a public house is no longer viable before it can be redeveloped. This must include proof that the pub’s freehold has been properly marketed at a fair price for the business. This safeguard is a perfectly reasonable step and essential in ensuring that property developers can not simply step in and profit at the expense of the community that a pub once served.”

CambridgePPF recently wrote to Cambridge City Council regarding planning policy on public houses in the city. The charity asked the local planning team to take into account recent Appeal decisions when considering the future of other public houses that face redevelopment or demolition.

Recent interpretations of the NPPF by the Inspectors Appeals for The Plough (Shepreth); The Unicorn (Cherry Hinton); and now The Carpenters Arms, show that:

·         The closure of a public house, or its change of use to a Restaurant (A3), doesn’t mean it should no longer be treated as a public house for planning purposes and that the provisions of the NPPF Paragraph 70 still apply. A former public house is still a public house.
·         There must clear and substantiated evidence that a public house is no longer viable or needed. Other operators should have had an opportunity to purchase and run the pub.
·         That the definition of whether there is ‘a community-need’ should take account of whether a population is growing.

Concluding Carolin Gohler said: “We believe that it is important that these latest indications from the Planning Inspectorate are taken into account in forthcoming planning decisions in the City. We are thinking specifically about the future of The Rosemary Branch (Church End); The Dog & Pheasant in Chesterton; and The Penny Ferry (previously the Pike & Eel), which we feel – with some imagination, community involvement and the right sort of investment – could remain valuable community assets.”

If you have not already done so, please consider signing the current petition by Old Chesterton Residents Association to save the Penny Ferry - a wonderful riverside location along the Cam:

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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Does Wandlebury have a claim to Olympic history?

Does Wandlebury have a claim to Olympic history?

As Cambridge residents get set to welcome the Olympic torch to Cambridge next week, local charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future (CambridgePPF) reveals that the city could lay claim to a slice of the game’s history. Charity member and local architect Richard Lyon delved into the archives and pulled the story together: 

Some 300 years before the re-invention of the modern form of the Olympic Games in the late 19th century, CambridgePPF’s Wandlebury Country Park was – possibly – an ‘Olympic Games’ site.  Certainly undergraduate ‘games’ were held there in the 16th century, possibly even before the well documented Cotswold Games – which were first organised in 1604 during the reign of James I at Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire.

At that time, Wandlebury was a treeless area of open chalk-land with Iron Age earthworks forming a large circular arena. In the town, undergraduate life in the Colleges was subject to strict puritanical discipline so students sought out opportunities for exercise, fun, and games as a break from their studies.

In earlier times, student ‘leisure’ had revolved around tournaments, jousting, hunting, but as the English Renaissance developed in the Elizabethan Age, new sports evolved – and the area at Wandlebury provided a natural arena for such activities. University authorities took every step possible to curtail suchsecular fun. The Cooper Annals from 1574 state that the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University and the Heads of Colleges issued a decree forbidding “scholars of what degree so ever, to resort or go to any play or game either kept at Gog-Magog Hills or elsewhere within five miles of Cambridge on pain of a fine of 6s. 8d.”

Wandlebury was popular for such forbidden exercise and leisure activities because any approaching University Proctor could be spotted from a long distance. In the 17th century, the antiquary John Layer wrote about the “unhonest games in Wandlebury Ring”.  A Mr. Robinson even had a five-year Licence to run Games at the Gog Magog Hills, before this was later rescinded.

In 1620 a famous bull arrived in Cambridge, whereupon a “baiting” was arranged to take place at the Gogs, along with other games.  But again the Vice-Chancellor intervened to prevent the expected sport "where bowling, running, jumping, shooting, and wrestling were to be practiced for 4-6 weeks, under the designation of the ‘Olympic Games’.

Today, an interesting comparison can be made between the size of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium at Stratford – which has a circumference of 900m (2953 ft) – and the 985m (3231 ft) circular Iron Age earthworks at Wandlebury.

Thankfully wrestling and bull baiting have given way to activities such as nature rambles and picnics and people are very welcome to walk or run the various routes, which exist at Wandlebury today.

Wandlebury Country Park is open to the public and managed by the local charity, CambridgePPF. 
Parking on site costs £2.50. CambridgePPF members can park for free. For more information go to:  

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Thursday, 14 June 2012

Walk up an appetite with a Midsummer guided walk at Coton Countryside Reserve       

On Sunday 24th June, local charity Cambridge Past, Present and Future (CambridgePPF) will host a guided walk around Coton Countryside Reserve that will be followed by the chance to enjoy a delicious afternoon tea on the village green.

The two-hour walk will showcase the best that Mother Nature has to offer during Midsummer in a traditional countryside stroll that ventures through open meadows, woodland, young orchards and farmland to the west of Cambridge. Then, after walking up an appetite, attendees can return to the village to enjoy another Great British pastime: afternoon tea and cakes – an annual event organised by the village church committee, which this year has been given a Diamond Jubilee theme.

With its open sky, large fields and tall hedges, Coton Countryside Reserve offers something of interest for young and old – wildlife, landscape views and changing skies. The reserve is owned and maintained by CambridgePPF, the conservation charity best known for running Wandlebury Country Park.

CambridgePPF is working hard to develop Coton Countryside Reserve as a public resource for village and Cambridge residents to enjoy and this event is the perfect opportunity for local residents to familiarise themselves with the site – which is also a working farm. New routes have been introduced to give walkers, cyclists, joggers, disabled people and horse-riders access to the diverse habitats that exist. A hilltop picnic area provides the chance to take in the panoramic view across the west of Cambridge including the historic Cambridge skyline. And thanks to links with adjacent public footpaths and bridleways, Coton Countryside reserve is accessible from multiple points.

The guided walk will begin at 1pm at the Reserve entrance, off the footpath at Coton. The event is free to attend but donations to help with the upkeep of the reserve are always welcome. Please note there is a small charge for the Coton Village Cream Tea. For more information contact: or 01223 243830.

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Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Diamond Jubilee Beacon: Guided Walk at Coton Countryside Reserve

Nick Beale - CambridgePPF Ranger tests the beacon

Monday 4  June – 9.30pm to 10.30pm

Join the Cambridge Past, Present & Future (CambridgePPF) team as they light a beacon on Red Meadow Hill at the Coton Countryside Reserve in celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The beacon – handcrafted by one of the charity’s rangers – is one of thousands being lit around the country and is listed on the Jubilee Beacons website. Bring a torch and / or lantern and explore the reserve at night together with the Rangers. The walk to the top of the hillstarts at 9:30pm – meet at Martin Car Park off Grantchester Road (1mile south of Coton).

Commenting Carolin Göhler, CEO of CambridgePPF, said: “When we heard about plans to create a national network of Jubilee Beacons we immediately wanted to be involved. It’s a fantastic way to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s sixty year reign – and it also gives us the chance to quite literally shine a light on the work we are doing at Coton Countryside Reserve. Most people associate us with Wandlebury but we are also very busy to the west of Cambridge – where we have created a public green space for local people to enjoy. Coton Countryside Reserve is a great place to explore. Offering views to the city it’s the perfect spot for a beacon. One of our rangers recently went on a welding course and our beacon is one of the first things he has produced, so we hope lots of people will join us on the night to see his handiwork and celebrate all things British in the great outdoors.”

NB: This is a free event but donations to support the upkeep of the reserve are appreciated. Attendees are advised to wear sturdy footwear and dress according to the weather.

Meet at: Martin Car Park, off Grantchester Road in Coton CB23 7PZ

For more information: / 01223 243830


We had a fantastic time - despite earlier rain - 
sunset colours welcomed the rising moon!

Sunset welcomes all Beacon enthusiasts

Moonlight is guiding the way up the hill

Jubilee Beacon and moonlight

Lantern with Union Jack tethered to gate - NOTE:  this one uses only string and thin willow struts thus not damaging to wildlife!

Further pictures can be seen at:

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