Revitalisation of Cambridge city centre, based on ground-breaking alternatives to the car, is at risk, according to John Lewis managing director Luke Mayhew.
The imminent construction of Grosvenor’s Grand Arcade, causing three years’ disruption to the city’s retail core, together with recent rises in park and ride charges and parking costs could force shoppers to head for Peterborough, Norwich and even Bluewater, Mayhew warned a retail seminar hosted by Bidwells.
Grand Arcade, anchored by a £50 million John Lewis, along with Land Securities’ nearby Bradwells Court development, will provide a revitalised retail offer in an historic city centre singularly unable to accommodate cars.
However, Cambridge City Council’s vision of a comp-rehensive public transport system, which would give shoppers access to the centre, is hanging in the balance.
Cambridge City Council earns £7 million a year from parking charges that have outpaced inflation since the late 1990s to force drivers onto public transport.
The city’s park and ride scheme now attracts 1.5 million people a year, more than half are shoppers. However, charges rose 20 per cent last month because of escalating site costs, and rates on each park and ride parking space now cost£500 a year.
‘The next few years will make or break the vision,’ said Mayhew.
The property industry is watching closely Cambridge’s vision of retail development without provision for the car.
If Cambridge stumbled ‘that vision of regeneration without parking is dead’, said Mayhew.
John Lewis is discussing anchoring eight other major urban regeneration projects. ‘If Cambridge didn’t deliver, it would affect our view of the eight other city centre schemes,’ said Mayhew.