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Major planning proposals clarification
THere are two major plans which go before the city council planning committee shortly.

One, submitted by the University of Warwick which is seeking approval for major building projects on campus over the next 10 years and is covered by the Editorial Comment on this website. The committee meets at the Council House, at 2pm on November 15, to decide on this application. The closing date for objection to these plans has passed*.  However members of the public may attend the meeting  (although are not permitted to address the committee unless it has been previously agreed). Members of the Cannon Park Community Association will meet on the steps of the main entrance in Earl Street at 1.30pm. You are welcome to join them.

Details of application:

The second planning proposal is completely separate from the above, although it concerns student accommodation. It has been made by the owners of the Cannon Park Shopping centre who are seeking permission to build an 800-student accommodation complex and multi-storey carpark on land off De Montfort Way presently used as carparking and spinney. The committee will meet on December 13 at 2pm to decide on this application. The period for public consultation* has closed but, again, the public may attend the meeting.

Details of this application:

  *although the public consultation period may have elapsed, late comments/objections may still be made up until the committee meeting through the comments section on the application.
From our Correspondent
Posted 12 November 2018
Further update on the Cannon Park car park redevelopment (Reference: FUL/2018/2651)
Student block
Proposed student block (artist's impression)
A planning application notice for this proposed development, dated 5th October 2018, has been posted near the roundabout to the entrance of Cannon Park Estate. The notice states that there are 21 days from the 5th October for comments to be received by Coventry City Council Planning Department, to Friday, 26th October. (The Planning Committee will meet on Thursday 13th December 2018 at 2 pm).

Comments can be made online using the following link:

Student block
Proposed student block (artist's impression)
Comments, stating the above reference number, can also be submitted by post to:
Mary-Anne Jones, Case Officer
Planning Planning Department
Coventry City Council
PO Box 15
Council House

The CPCA views of this planning application are summarised in three key points:
1. Given the contours of the land, the structure is too high, and its size and design are out of keeping with the character of the area.
2. With 808 accommodation units, the sheer number of residents will create a density of occupation that is inappropriate for the social balance of the area.
3. The Spinney, with Shultern Lane, is a healthy and rich mixed woodland area showing significant regeneration. Any reduction in the current area of the Spinney and consequent loss of valuable trees in this important natural environment is not acceptable; a thorough independent environmental assessment is vital.
Posted 11 October 2018
Further update on the Cannon Park car park redevelopment; submission of planning application
Lichfields UK, acting on behalf of McAleer and Rushe, have submitted an application to Coventry City Council Planning department entitled: “Redevelopment of the existing car park to provide a new student accommodation building and associated amenities, a new multi-storey car park, landscaping enhancements, new pedestrian crossing and other public realm improvements.”

The following link accesses the application, which has reference number FUL/2018/2651

The last of the 48 items listed under Images, “Planning Statement” is of particular relevance for review.

The CPCA committee is meeting to discuss the application and will update residents on their deliberations later next week. The period for public consultation, and commenting on the application, ends on Friday 19th October, 2018.
Posted 3 October 2018
For previous Stop Press articles, go to the Archives page
(For comments on news stories go to the bottom of the corresponding report.)
Comments on planning matters etc.
Cannon Hill Road proposed safety measures
The danger spot on Cannon Hill Road where a zebra crossing would be built.
Uni promise: we will pay for Cannon Hill road safety measures
WARWICK UNIVERSITY has pledged to pay for a raft of road safety improvements to protect residents and schoolchildren in the Cannon Hill Road area.

The news is a major breakthrough for campaigners who have long argued that the uni should take responsibility for the problems it generates.

After sustained lobbying by the Cannon Park Community Association, residents’ petitions and forceful arguments from a local highways expert, it has listened. The university’s own traffic consultants have agreed an action plan and promised funding if the City Council gives the green light.

Cannon Hill Road crossing
Site of proposed zebra crossing
The plan includes:
*Building a zebra crossing on Cannon Hill Road for children attending Cannon Park School. A better waiting area at the crossing and improved pedestrian access to the school. *Making the area a 20mph zone, with gateway features.

*Putting in speed cushions (road humps) which would force cars to slow down.

And there is further good news with the uni’s backing for a ban on heavy lorries (over 7.5 tonne) using Cannon HIll Road and a pledge to fund measures to rid the area of nuisance parkers who use the road and adjoining streets as a free car park.

A spokesman for the uni’s consultants said: “We have proposed a 7.5 tonne weight limit.

“(The Council) may require that we identify that there is an issue with HGVs rat running along Cannon Hill Road. In that circumstance we would probably need to carry out a survey. “We will need to agree the technical aspects and the budget with the Council and will then need to consult with residents.

“The layout of Cannon Hill Road, the presence of the school and the additional traffic identified means that there is a reasonable basis for providing traffic calming at this location.” Regarding parking problems created by uni staff and students, including at the laybys on Cannon Hill Road and outside houses in surrounding streets, he said the uni would pay for residents’ parking zones over a five -year period.

He added: “It is the University’s intention to provide the Council with a sum of money to address resident parking issues as and when they arise on residential roads surrounding the University as a result of staff/student commutes to the University or students leaving cars on local roads when they are resident within the campus residential accommodation.

“It is expected that, in agreement with the Council, surveys will be carried out to understand the scale of the problem and ensure that any scheme is tailored to the needs of the residents.” The news was welcomed by local resident and chartered surveyor Dave Goodwin, who played a leading role in convincing the university of the need to act.

Cannon Hill Road petitioners
Some petitioners for improvements on Cannon Hill Road. (See article "Thoughtless uni commuters are making our lives a misery, say protesters" in the Archives for February 2018).
He said: “The Council has recorded more than 3000 vehicles per week breaking the speed limit on Cannon Hill Road, many routinely travel at over 35mph, some frequently travelling at 50 and 60 mph, and occasionally faster. “Councillors and highways officers fully agreed over two years ago that it should be a 20mph zone but did not have the funds to implement it. Local Speedwatch sessions highlighted the problem to local police officers who also agreed for the need.

“Now, after lobbying the uni about the roads’ increasing use as a rat-runs, since failed A45 junction improvements and uni Gibbet Hill Road vehicle restrictions, the funds needed have been found.

Have your say logo
“It will be an immense relief for residents, schoolchildren and parents who have witnessed and endured the increasing risk and burden over the last 10 years. “We all look forward to the Council implementing the improvements speedily to prevent further accidents and to reduce risk.”
From our correspondent
Posted 27 October 2018
West Midlands Police have launched a brand new live chat service
Live Chat poster
Live chat gives you the power to report all non-emergency crime online and speak to an adviser anytime between 8 am and midnight (Monday - Sunday).

Using the online services you can now:
* Search for advice tailored to any situation you might be facing using the search bar..

* Get help by talking to an adviser on live chat between 8am-midnight..

* Report non-emergency crime online using live chat..

* Track the progress of your case..

You can also self-report burglary, theft, robbery and criminal damage. The Police encourage you to use this service if it is not a 999 emergency. Your case will be receive the same level of service as if you were to phone West Midlands Police..

Go to the West Midlands Police website

From our correspondent.
Posted 22 October 2018
CAN Article
CAN flier
(This article is taken, with permission, from the Coventry Action for Neighbourhoods [CAN] Newsletter of 22 October 2018)

Coventry's two universities continue to expand and the need for student accommodation is not only changing the skyline but destroying settled communities by turning family housing into student residences.   Surely a cap should now be put on their proposed expansion?  Even treasured green areas are threatened by the endless march of developers seeking to make millions by providing yet more student accommodation.

Shultern Lane
On this south side of the city we have almost a thousand houses which accommodate students and now a proposal has been submitted to Planning which would see the Cannon Park Tesco car park covered with a multi storey car park and huge flat roofed high rise blocks to accommodate yet another 800 students.

 This car park has trees on and around it and adjoins ancient Shultern Lane which is used and enjoyed daily by walkers and cyclists

This planned development will loom over the RC church and Shultern Lane with its ancient trees and hedgerows and necessitate the removal of 80 per cent of the Shultern Lane Spinney which is full of wild life and has many notable trees. It is totally out of character in a semi rural setting and will effectively turn this area into an expansion of the Warwick University campus. On the Cannon Park Estate over 40 per cent of all housing is now student occupied. Older home owners are feeling isolated and uncomfortable. The area has lovely green spaces and a good primary school but houses are snapped up by developers before young families can buy them. The community is dying.

Shultern Lane
Locally we would not object to building programmes providing they reflect the needs of communities living on this side of Coventry. That should be homes for first time buyers, social housing and suitable accomodation for the elderly. All green spaces, trees and hedgerows should be retained and building of a suitable height and in keeping with the area

Enough is enough and our Planning Department should call an end to such development and CCC should now consult with the Universities and agree a date to place a cap on numbers of students accepted for study Communities really do matter and if this seemingly endless expansion continues many in Coventry will simply cease to exist.
Pip Pountney
Posted 24 October 2018

Frail widow, 87, was attacked while recuperating from life-saving hospital stay.

Early October is normally a time of birthday joy for a frail old lady now in the autumn of her life at 87.

Mrs Kaur spent much of this year in hospital battling life-threatening heart and kidney diseases.

She nearly didn’t make it. At one point doctors thought she had just days to live.

But she is a fighter and was discharged into the care and love of her daughter’s home in Cannon Hill Road, Coventry, to start her recuperation. There was still much to celebrate.

That hard-earned reprieve was short-lived, shattered along with a kitchen window as heartless thugs smashed in and attacked her while she was in the bathroom.

Demanding to know ‘where is the gold?’ they dragged the defenceless widow across the hallway, stuffing her headscarf into her mouth to muffle her screams.

“Mum has difficulty breathing because of her illness,” her daughter said:
“She told me that was the moment she thought was going to die and would never see us again.” Her two attackers were remorseless.

Injured hand
They spotted a bangle on her wrist and cruelly wrenched it off, causing her hand to swell to the size of a melon and a wound which left a trail of blood across rooms and hallway.

Ironically, the bangle, known as a kara, is a traditional Sikh bracelet which carries a symbol denoting unity.

Mrs Kaur’s was not gold and comparatively worthless in monetary terms. But she is a spiritual woman, attends temple devotedly and puts a high personal value on it.

Like many of Coventry’s Sikh community, she came here with her husband from the Indian Punjab in the early 1950s to forge a better life.

The hard-working couple settled in a modest home the Stoney Stanton Road area of the city where they raised six children.

“We are from a working class background,” said the daughter.

“Dad worked in a foundry at Alfred Herbert's, Sterling Metals and at the old Cherry Orchard brickworks in Kenilworth. He never owned a car and used his bicycle to get everywhere.”

Mrs Kaur also worked in factories, mainly employed in the sewing trade.
Mrs Kaur with flopwers and cards

Her husband died 10 years ago but she remained defiantly independent in her own home until her illness worsened this year. She was hospitalised on five occasions including most of May and lengthy periods in late summer.

“We very nearly lost her,” said her daughter.

She and he husband wanted her to move permanently into their detached home and get her back on her feet, hoping that she would soon be able to visit the temple again and resume her yoga classes.

“Mum is very well-liked and loved,” said her daughter. “So many people call her mum I often joke with her and say ‘Just how many children have you got?’ “

At this time of year, Mrs Kaur’s delicate hands would normally be occupied knitting jumpers for her beloved grandchildren for Christmas.

But that looks unlikely this year given the injuries inflicted by the two robbers.

The pair, who were masked during the raid, may have had two accomplices, one of whom drove a white Mercedes to drop off one of the robbers at the junction of Cannon Hill Road and The Shrubberies shortly before the raid.

A fourth member of the gang was believed to be behind the wheel of a getaway car, described as a dark coloured VW Golf, which raced off towards the Kenilworth Road.

The gang targeted the house hoping for a haul of “Indian gold” jewellery, but they also stole car keys, intending to return later when the vehicles were on the drive.

They struck in broad daylight on Saturday, September 22, between 11.10am and 12.20 pm.

Despite her ordeal Mrs Kaur, though bloodied and distressed, had managed to crawl to the phone and was trying to raise the alarm.

Her daughter and a carer arrived home and found her propped against a wall still holding the phone and yelling that the robbers were upstairs.

“I was absolutely terrified,” said her daughter. “I was with my children and shocked at the sight of my mum covered in blood.

“But she had reacted very calmly, much more together than I was. She had pleaded with them to leave and had even pretended my husband was home by shouting out to him.”

Realising the robbers must have fled, the daughter phoned the police. They converged on the house while she was still giving details.

She said: “My mum could easily have had a heart attack and died of shock. What sort of men are they that could treat an elderly woman like that?

“My mum always thought the best of everyone but these thugs could have killed her for the sake a handful of inexpensive jewelry.”

On Wednesday, her birthday, Mrs Kaur’s quiet indomitable spirit shone through the dark shadow cast by the robbery.

Her injured hand still gives her pain but she manages her porridge breakfast one-handed and finds added sustenance in admiring the bounty of bouquets and cards that crowd the kitchen table.

Police have appealed for the public’s help in tracking down Mrs Kaur’s attackers

CCTV images of a man who they want to question in connection with the robbery have been released (see below)

The break in and brutal treatment of a helpless elderly lady occurred between 11.10 am and 12.20 pm on Saturday morning, September 22.

A police spokesman “Anyone with information can contact us via Live Chat at between 8am to midnight, call 101 anytime or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 giving crime number 20CV/217166H/18.”

From our Correspondent
Posted 9 October 2018

(This is an expanded version of the previous article entitled "Elderly woman assaulted during Cannon Hill Road break-in")
What sort of men could attack a frail old lady?
Escaping intruder
No place for popular Jin’s cafe in Cannon Park reshuffle
Jin's Café closure
Picture shows owner Jin Bal (2nd left back row) and her staff on the last day of trading at the Cannon Park Shopping Centre
After months of uncertainty, Jin’s Cafe Express has closed its doors at the Cannon Park Shopping Centre.

For more than seven years owner Jin Bal’s radiant smile has welcomed hungry customers to the bastion of traditional British grub, where bangers and bacon reign supreme.

But on Friday (July 20) the sizzling stopped. Jin’s lease had run out and the new owners of the shopping centre hadn’t offered her another tenure.

Jin, a mother of three who lives in Cannon Park, said:”We knew this day would come and it’s very sad but there’s also a sense of relief. “I an going to miss my wonderful staff and of course all the tremendous customers who have supported us down the years. It’s such a shame.” She now plans to take a long holiday, spend more time with her family and plan another business venture.

She hasn’t ruled out a return to the centre and will be keeping in touch with owners McAleer & Rushe to see if a unit becomes available.

It’s understood the owners will make one larger unit from Jin’s, an adjoining empty shop and JJ Barbers, which is moving further into the centre, close to a sports outlet.

There has been speculation that it will become a cafe-restaurant specialising in “street food” aimed at the student market from nearby Warwick University.

McAleer & Rushe have recently announced they want to build student accommodation on the centre’s car park off De Montfort Way.  They have invited local residents to hear about the proposals from 3pm till 7.30pm on Wednesday, July 25 at Unit 11, which is the unit next to Jin’s.
Posted 23 July 2018
Planners reject road fears and approve new estate at Westwood Heath
Westwood Heath Road
Westwood Heath Road -Bockendon Road junction near the site for the new Garden Village estate.
Massive public opposition has failed to stop a local authority giving permission for the first phase of a 425-home estate at Westwood Heath.

Warwick District Council planning Committee (WDC) voted by 6 to 4, with two abstentions, to give the go-ahead to the “Garden Village.”

Although the site  comes under WDC it is on Coventry’s doorstep, between Burton Green and Warwick University, and is accessed by the notoriously congested Westwood Heath Road near its junction with Bockendon Road.

Coventry Councillor David Skinner (Tory, Westwood Heath) appealed to the WDC planning committee to reject the proposal but his plea fell on deaf ears.

In an email to his constituents, Cllr Skinner later said: “In  addition, there was mention of the 'reserved area' further towards Gibbet Hill Road where 700 more houses might possibly be built at some future point. Obviously changing Westwood Heath totally.

The various speakers made points about loss of green space affecting Burton Green and Westwood Heath, the effect of HS2, pollution and traffic.

I referred to road safety in particular and mentioned the constant speeding; the totally destroyed vehicles that I have seen in recent months; the crash in Tile Hill Village; the further crash in Station Avenue in the last few days. How the driver survived is beyond me.

I mentioned changes in Westwood Business Park; Fletchamstead Highway and Cromwell Lane, already agreed, and possible changes at Tile Hill Railway Station and Warwick University.”

Coventry City Council, which is ruled by a Labour majority, made no official objections.

Both authorities will benefit from “106 money” - sums that are paid for by the developer, in this case Crest Nicholson, in exchange for its approval.

These amounts will include.
* £560,750 towards cycle and junction improvements to the highway network in the Coventry City Council administrative boundary,
* £969,250 towards improvements to the highway network in the Warwick District Council administrative boundary;
*£21,540 towards improvements to public rights of way within a 1.5 mile radius of the development site (including e.g. upgrading stiles to gates, bridge improvements and path surface improvements);
* a contribution of £348,072 towards public open space (amount to be confirmed by the Open Space team);
* a contribution of £1,344,025 towards primary education; £1,191,075 towards secondary education; £272,760 towards Post-16 education; £58,095 towards primary special education needs; £88,200 towards secondary special education needs; £354,079 towards indoor sports facilities; £428,200 towards primary medical care; a contribution of £489,111 towards acute and community healthcare.

One of the least likely awards is a contribution of £93,771 towards skylark mitigation.
Posted 21 June 2018
Safeguard our children - petition calls on council to act over Cannon Hill Road danger spot
Cannon Hill Road crossing
A petition demanding a safe crossing for school children attending Cannon Park School has got off to a flying start.

Within hours of its launch, 100 people had already put their name to an appeal to the city council to take action to safeguard pupils having to cross Cannon Hill Road near a  sharp bend. The danger point has been without  ‘lollipop’ wardens for many years and has no pedestrian crossing, while traffic using the road to short-cut to the University of Warwick has spiralled.

Now the school leaders, parents and residents are united in calling for a permanent solution to safeguard lives. The petition going before councillors says: “We call upon the council to provide a permanent crossing across Cannon Hill Road (CHR) to enable pedestrians and children attending Cannon Park School safe passage. “We also call upon the council to implement the 20 MPH speed limit on CHR, which Coventry City Council had agreed to previously, incorporating physical traffic calming measures and a 7 tonne vehicle weight restriction.

Volunteers including parents and members of the Cannon Park Community Association are out and about knocking on doors and gathering signatures. But the petition, headed  Cannon Hill Road Speed Restriction and Safe Crossing, can be ‘signed’ online on the Coventry City Council petitions page.

The organisers are calling on residents to tell their neighbours about the petition, and by gathering hundreds of signatures force the city council to take notice. “We want the council to help make this a better and safer place for children, other pedestrians, and the residents who live along Cannon HIll Road," said one campaigner.

The demand comes as police pledge to continue community Speedwatch initiatives along the road. Last Thursday, a  Neighbourhood Police Team was out in force, stopping speeding drivers and issuing notices. See full report below.
Posted 22 May 2018
Copped! The speeding drivers bringing danger to Cannon Hill Road>
Police chat
Speeding motorists were stopped in their tracks on Thursday when a team of police officers converged on Cannon Hill Road.

Drivers recorded breaking the 30mph limit were flagged down and either given a stern warning or issued with tickets that could lead to fines, driver awareness scheme or licence endorsements.

The swoop follows a series of roadside Speedwatch initiatives,organised by the local residents and supported by our neighbourhood policing team.

Speed camera
The roadside monitoring, overseen by PC Stuart Wheeler, showed there was sufficient evidence to take enforcement action.

That began this week (May 17) when  eight officers, supported by readings from a  highly accurate speed camera, set up by the bridge on Cannon Hill Road, clocking speeds and directing offenders into Cannon Park Road where they were interviewed.

PC Wheeler said: “A number of vehicles have been stopped in regard to inappropriate speed and those that have exceeded the limit will be reported for future action.” “However, we were pleased to see that the majority of drivers today have respected the speed limit.”

He added that the Speedwatch exercises seemed to be working as there was a marked drop in the number of speeders on the road since the first initiative on March 7. But he added that the Neighbourhood Police team would be monitoring the situation in Cannon Hill Road and was prepared to mount a further Speedwatch programme.

*The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and 3 penalty points added to your licence. You could be disqualified from driving if you build up 12 or more penalty points within a period of 3 years.
Posted 22 May 2018
Uni decision sparks hopes that HiMO gravy train is heading for the buffers
Earlsdon house for sale
Three of the houses in Earlsdon Avenue South which are being sold by Coventry University
Coventry University is selling off nearly all the houses it owns and converted for student digs because of falling demand.

The £8m sale of 24 homes is a signal that the Houses in Multiple Occupation gravy train railroading through Coventry may be running out of steam.

A spokeswoman for the university said: “Students nowadays are looking for more modern accommodation that better suits their needs.

“We feel the time is now right to sell these houses as there is no longer so much demand for these types of properties.”

The news will be welcomed across Coventry by residents who have seen their communities eroded by “studentification.”

The hope will be that the at least some of the 24 houses being sold - in Earlsdon, Spon End and Hillfields - will be bought by families and revert back to traditional homes. Realistically, the ones with up to 10 bedrooms will probably be bought by other landlords attracted by the potential of more than £1,000 a week in rents, free of council tax or business rates

But Coventry Uni’s decision to sell indicates they will be chasing a diminishing market of customers

. Its spokeswoman added: “The property market has changed significantly in the 25 years since we bought these houses.

“We recently opened our first university-owned purpose-built accommodation for 14 years, The Cycle Works, which provides housing for about 350 students, and we are moving our focus away from housing our students in residential areas.

“The rental agreements on these homes are due to expire this summer. All students affected have been contacted about the sale of the properties, informed of their options and given support to find accommodation elsewhere, if they need it.”

In the south of Coventry, particularly around Cannon Park, the hope will be that the University of Warwick will follow suit and stop its support of HiMOs.
7 May 2018
Uni and council urged to work in tandem over cycle routes
Cyclist at A45
Campaigners for safer cycling have urged the city council to get on its bike and look at a range of suggestions to improve routes leading to Warwick University. The proposals come as the council begins preparing the ‘New Infrastructure Plan for Walking and Cycling’  and amid growing demand to reduce traffic generated by the university and other businesses.

Three suggested cycle routes have been submitted to the council with the aim of encouraging more people to cycle in safety to the uni and help ease the traffic problems. The proposed routes all leave the campus at the new roundabout on Lynchgate Road and fan out to join the existing cycle paths along the A45. The routes would cost little to construct, and need suitable signing.

One existing signposted route - from the uni to Kenilworth Road via de Montfort Way/Cannon Hill Road - is used very rarely and it’s suggested it should be discontinued.

Mike Thomas, a campaigner for safer cycling,  said the existing marked routes spreading from the campus are at best half-hearted. Previous work to widen footpaths hadn’t been carried through and can bring bike riders into conflict with pedestrians where they narrow. He points out that tens of millions of pounds will be spent on building a new road into the university from the A46 near Stoneleigh but not a penny is being earmarked for cycle routes.

He said: “The university, Westwood business park and the Shopping Centre may bring jobs but they also bring huge traffic problems. “A safe network of cycle paths spreading out from the campus could help ease that congestion, and improve the lives of students and visitors and benefit residents too. “Looking at the opportunities to get from the Lynchgate Road campus exit to the residential areas on the southern side of the city it would take very little effort and expenditure to develop three routes.

“A real difference can be made by a relatively small amount spent on widening a footpath, and optimising what we already have.” Mr Thomas, of Cannon Hill Road, is a ranger for Sustrans, a national volunteer organisation that works to improve cyclepath networks.

ROUTE 1 This route would provide access to the South-East Coventry districts of Stivichall, Cheylesmore, Finham and east Earlsdon.  The route would follow Lynchgate Road, Tesco’s car-park, Ivy Farm Lane, Cannocks Lane, Hilary Rd, Sefton Rd, Turbury Ave and onto the A45 cycle path and beyond.

ROUTE 2 This route would provide access to Canley, West Earlsdon, Chapelfields, Whoberley, Coundon and the City Centre.  The route would follow Lynchgate Road northwards, Sir Henry Parkes Road, Canley Crossing, Canley Road and onto the existing cycle path along Hearsall Lane.

ROUTE 3 This route would provide access to the West and South-West districts of Coventry including Eastern Green, Allesley, and Tile Hill.  The route would follow Lynchgate Road as Route 2 then turn westwards on the new path along Charter Ave, Moat House Lane, and then along an existing path which could be widened over Canley Brook and north-east as far as the existing A45 cycle path.
Posted 23 April 2018
Written and produced by and for the residents of Cannon Park/Cannon Hill and neighbouring areas. Your contributions are welcomed.
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Editorial Comment

Road sign
Why the Uni’s plans will land us all in a jam

On November 15, Coventry’s Planning Committee will consider an application by Warwick University for a major expansion plan covering the next 10 years

The Cannon Park Community Association (CPCA) has no strong objection to additional buildings, although it notes that only one of the nine projects is for campus accommodation, falling far short of what’s needed to stem the tide of “studentification” eroding family housing stock.

But even more alarming is the proposal to add 1030 further campus car parking spaces from early 2019.

Or put another way, more than a 1000 more cars a day will be funnelled through an area which is already hopelessly congested and increasingly dangerous.

The concerns for the local area and the implications for most of south Coventry have been made to the uni by CPCA, residents and councillors, but have been largely ignored. It is true that the uni has (as can be read elsewhere on this site) offered to pay for traffic calming measures in the Cannon Hill Road area.

That’s been given an enthusiastic welcome by residents and is a strong sign that the uni is at long last acknowledging it doesn’t exist in a bubble.

But it should not blind us to the bigger picture. Slowing down traffic along one road while proposing to encourage 1,000+ more cars a day to join the jam is not a solution.

*Where are the ideas for major park and ride initiatives that could cut traffic coming in to the area (the uni manages to operate just such an initiative from Stoneleigh Park when it has an open day for intending students and families)?

*What progress is there on the much talked about relief road coming off the A46 to access the uni south of Gibbet Hill ?

*Why is there no plan for exploiting transport links offered by the newly-opened Kenilworth rail station, as proposed by the Green Party. And why is little more than lip-service paid to developing credible cycle routes.

*And most crucially, why has the uni’s car-share initiative failed so dismally when other universities have achieved outstanding results? The uni’s own traffic experts have confirmed that all major road junctions in the locality are at, or over, capacity. Saturated to the point of mass congestion at times.

This is not news to local residents who struggle to get to and from their homes especially at peak times.

Some 67 percent of Warwick University’s current traffic are single occupancy cars and has been so for the past ten years. This is a luxury for staff but is a burden for residents.

Other leading universities around the country, starting from the same figure, have reduced their single occupancy staff cars to 30 and 35 percent using effective staff car-share schemes. Warwick University has been asked how many of its 6300 staff (nearly half of whom live outside Coventry, particularly in the Warwick/Leamington area) car-share, but have declined to reply. It appears most staff regularly decline to participate.

If Warwick did manage car-sharing as effectively as other universities it would need 2000 fewer car parking spaces now and not 1030 more. This could mean a difference of 6000 fewer car journeys on our local roads each weekday. Imagine the difference that would make not just to residents of surrounding roads but to major feeder roads like the A45, A46, Kenilworth and Stoneleigh Roads.

Sadly, the Council’s track record where the university is concerned suggests it will give it the green light to increase the traffic burden and approve the plans. But maybe not if enough people object. Resident-power achieved a small victory in getting agreement for traffic calming in Cannon Hill Road. Now we need to shout even louder to get the council to show the red light.

*You could also show the strength of opposition by attending the planning meeting, which is being held at the Council House, at 2pm on November 15. Members of the Cannon Park Community Association will meet on the steps of the main entrance in Earl Street at 1.30pm. Please join them.
Posted 3 November 2018