Theme 7) On public buildings and public spaces

An overhaul of how we build, use and manage buildings open to the public, community assets and public spaces – irrespective of who owns and runs them.

Combine this with an all-encompassing website where residents and visitors will know is the ‘one stop place’ to go online to find the information on events they need.  

  • Do you know where all the accessible swimming pools in and around Cambridge are, irrespective of who runs them?
  • Does your group or society have problems finding or booking venues?
  • Is your venue struggling to make ends meet financially, and struggling to find bookings?
  • Want to have a more active social life but don’t know where to start?
  • Do you feel comfortable and safe as you would like to feel at existing venues?
  • Is there a facility that you feel Cambridge does not have that you think we need? For example an ice rink, or a modern accessible stadium for Cambridge United and Cambridge City Football Clubs?

When I was growing up in Cambridge, I’d often visit my late aunt and uncle who lived in a village just outside Stevenage. These visits were our holidays – as a family we could not afford the trips abroad – something perhaps as a society many of us take for granted today. At the time, Sevenage had two things that Cambridge did not: A bowling alley and an ice rink. As children, we never understood why Cambridge had didn’t have these. We have the bowling alley – on one of the blandest and uninspiring of modern developments in Cambridge, the Leisure Park.  (When local residents are not an active part of the planning system, it’s all too easy for developers to get away with designs that give them the maximum profit at the expense of the local community).


My vision for this theme

A city where all the venues have their booking calendars linked up electronically, staffed by friendly, knowledgeable, trained, talented and well-paid individuals in secure jobs. (You don’t get all of that on a zero hours minimum wage contract).

A city where the impact of our venues and the people/groups that hire them creates a social scene in Cambridge that is greater than the sum of its parts


My proposals

A sequenced plan  of action including:

A community mapping exercise – where we collect information on all of the venues and facilities that are available to the community. Information we need includes:

      • Who owns them?
      • Who runs them?
      • What facilities do they offer?
      • How expensive are they?
      • When are they open?
      • What are their contact details?
      • What system of publicity and booking do they currently operate?
      • Who currently uses them? (where applicable)

Analysis of that information to work out where the gaps are in our city’s offer to our citizens and visitors

      • What are the facilities that are being under-used?
      • Which facilities are too expensive or inaccessible?
      • Which facilities would we like but don’t have?
      • How much would realising this vision cost, and who will pay for it?
      • What are the other barriers to realising this vision, and how could we overcome them given the current economic and political climate?

Identifying interested people and organisations to get involved in delivering this vision

Having ‘open by design, digital by default’ principles where what matters is what people can contribute – and where no one gets left behind. (This means having a back-up for those that cannot or choose not to go online)

Identifying the ‘people needs’ of both those that can make this happen and those that will be using the services.

Creating a single website that brings together work already done by Cambridgeshire County Council and other organisations that becomes the ‘one stop place’ for community events and venue bookings. The Events On The Wight (see on the Isle of Wight gives an idea of what I believe Cambridge should be aiming for.

I also think that the community website Shape Your Place ( could evolve into something like The Student Room as an online discussion forum ( – but that will require people and organisations to commit time and money to it.


2 thoughts on “Theme 7) On public buildings and public spaces

  1. Hi Antony, perhaps I can work with you on this? I’m particularly interested in helping to develop arts/community space in East Cambridge. I’m involved in the #SaveRomseyLabourClub Campaign as you know and I’m supporting the Cambridge Art Salon to put together a community share offer to raise funds for the deposit on 29 Cromwell Road. I’m also interested in securing arts/community space on several other sites around Mill Road including the Mill Road Depot site, the site next to the Mosque site at the East end of Mill Rd and the Ridgeons site on Cromwell Road.

    I’m particularly interested in finding out what support the council can offer in terms of management/legal structures and documentation and funding for a group that want to set up an arts/community space. Do you know who would be best to talk with about this?

    Best wishes,


  2. I would like to see regulations that force all new supermarkets and large retail complexes to build flats above their premises. This would create housing in existing developments and save our green space.

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