Mike Sargeant spoke against the planning application for an Aparthotel on Gilbert Road and Cambridge City Council Planning Gilbert_Road.pngCommittee on 4th June.

The application was rejected, but Mike warns “This application is likely to come back either as an appeal or in a revised form. The Council’s main reason for rejection was that the site is designated for housing and this will no doubt be challenged by the Developer. I tried to get the application rejected on design grounds as well, but unfortunately local Lib Dem City Councillor Damian Tunnacliffe did not support this.”

My objections were:

“I am speaking today on behalf of local residents who have asked me to represent their views.

I see today as what is likely to be a long battle to enhance this area and I therefore would like to stress that this application should be rejected for a number of reasons. This is particularly important as, in the Cambridge Local Plan 2014, this site is not designated for residential use. This oversight, by the City Council and local City Councillors, has left this site wide open for developments which do not suit this area.

The Planning Statement from the applicant suggests:

 ” an ApartHotel within the City Centre … full respecting its surroundings and avoids any adverse impact on neighbouring property”

 “extremely high quality innovative features which respond well to the site’s context”

This is not Cambridge City Centre and I would say the design fails badly on both their assertions.

 The specific grounds for rejection, I believe, are made with reference to the Cambridge Local Plan 2006.

1)      In the Local Plan 2006 the site is allocated for housing and community facilities.  This application does not meet that designation.

2)      Secondly the proposed developments fail on a large number of criteria in the Local Plan

  1. “identify and respond positively to existing features” of the area (Policy 3/4) -; It clashes badly
  2. provide “attractive built frontages to positively enhance the townscape” (Policy 3/7) -; no attempt to do this
  3. The Local Plan 2006 states (Policy 3/12) that ‘New buildings will be permitted where it can be demonstrated that they have a positive impact on their setting in terms of location on the site, height, scale and form, materials, detailing, wider townscape and landscape impacts and available views …’ there are only negatives from this proposal.

 This proposal does not achieve any of these criteria in the 2006 Local Plan. Apart from the Manor Care Home, which even the owners are very apologetic about, this side of Milton Road and the whole of Gilbert Road consists of 2 storey residential housing a few of  which contain commercial operations. They are not 4 storey businesses.

The proposed building would give a commercial/ industrial entrance to Gilbert Road – which is in direct conflict to the residential character of the road and as respondents have said: the proposed Gilbert Road frontage has ‘an echo of an old sawtooth-roofed factory skyline’ and the junction of Gilbert Road and Milton Road ‘has all the characteristics of the entrance to a multiscreen cinema complex’. Are we trying to match the Cherry Hinton Road / Hills Road junction in the North of Cambridge?

The developer told me that they couldn’t make a profit on housing -; what at Cambridge prices? In the 2014 Local Plan this site is part of the Mitcham’s Corner Opportunity Area. You need to send a clear message that this won’t be just opportunities for developers to maximise their profits.

Contrary to the support from the Council Officer for the design, the Design and Conservation Panel had mixed views on the design with the majority giving it amber or red.

Local people have been very critical of the design of Manor Care Home. We don’t need another 2nd class design on this site.

Please reject the application both because of the site’s designation for housing and community use and also on design grounds

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