“Top officials reject city super-plans” – Cambridge 1974

Prof John Parry Lewis’s proposals to double the size of the city and create a new urban centre south of Trumpington are finally rejected by councillors

From The Cambridge Evening News, 29 Oct 1974 – written by Peter Hoskins, transcribed from the copy in the Cambridgeshire Collection’s planning cuttings file

“The Parry Lewis super plan for the future of Cambridge, which took three years to prepare at a cost of £20,000 [about £250,000 in 2020 money], has been rejected by all senior city and county planning officers.

“Today, the planners claimed they could not recommend local councils to accept the plan’s main findings “because of doubts as to its validity and feasibility.”

“The plan’s main suggestions were for the immediate scrapping of the city council’s scheme for extensive shopping development in the Burleigh Street – Fitzroy Street area and the building of a second shopping centre in the Trumpington Area to relieve pressure on the present historic centre.

“The findings are contained in a report of an assessment plan of the Parry Lewis Plan [Digitised here] conducted by the big four planners in the Cambridge area – the Cambridgeshire Planning Officer Mr Ian Burdy, the Cambridge City Architect & Planning Officer Mr John Milner, The Chief South Cambs District Planner Mr John Wilson, and the East Cambs Planning Officer Mr Tim Aldworth.

The Planners’ assessment was summed up by the Conservative Chairman of the Cambridgeshire Planning Committee, Cllr Tony Cornell, who said:

“The technical boys took a look at Parry Lewis and they have not liked what they have seen”

Cllr Tony Cornell, South Cambridgeshire District Council, 29 Oct 1974

“But the author of the plan, Prof John Parry Lewis of Manchester University said today he is not surprised his findings have been rejected by the top planners. He had always recognised it would need “big thinking” to get the plan accepted. The Parry Lewis plan was paid for mainly by the Government. But the city council and the former Cambridgeshire & Isle of Ely Council provided staff and accommodation. [Indicating that the new enlarged Cambridgeshire County Council based on the current council plus Peterborough was now up and running].

Above – the rejected plan by John Parry Lewis. You can read his full report for Cambridge here.

“The rejection of the plan comes only two days before Cambridge City Council are to be recommended by the City Board to ask the county planners to relax their tight ban on industrial development in Cambridge. These include the development of clusters of villages around Cambridge’s outskirts and the Trumpington area redevelopment. But Prof Parry Lewis plumped wholeheartedly for the Trumpington area which he felt could be based around a hypermarket type shopping centre linked to the whole city with good bus routes. [As an aside, this is exactly what Cambourne turned out to be – without the good bus services].

Residential development would follow and the pressure would be off the historic centre. But in a statement issued today the four planning officers say: “We cannot recommend the preferred strategy and its associated interim proposals because of doubts as to its validity and feasibility” the statement adds. “However we feel that a close look should be taken at the detailed information in the Parry Lewis report and his various proposals and strategies as part of the structure plan process.”

The officers have made three other recommendations:

  • Once the East Anglia Regional Strategy team’s regional study has been published, guidance on future planning policies for the Cambridge area should be produced as the basis for structure planning;
  • Short term decisions on such matters as housing, shopping, and employment in the Cambridge area should continue to be guided by a flexible interpretation of existing policies;
  • The large amount of detailed survey information should be used by the county planners to speed up their preparation of the structure plan. This would included reconsidering the relevant options put forward by Prof. Parry Lewis but which he did not recommend.

Prof Parry Lewis said today from his Manchester Office:

“I am not surprised that the report recommends the rejection of my principal recommendations. Although I am convinced that it is the only answer to the problems of Cambridge, and which would enable the historic centre to remain in the state which is should remain in. I have always recognised it would take big thinking to get it accepted.

What does surprise me is the extent of the incorrect statements which are contained in the joint report and which might not have been there if the authors or sponsors of the report had discussed it with me.”

Prof John Parry Lewis, 29 Oct 1974

The report will now go to the city council’s Environment Committee, the county planning committee, and the South & East Cambs planning committees, for consideration.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s