Cambridge Labour Councillors have responded to claims that the proposed redevelopment of the Meadows site in North Cambridge will decimate the character of the area.
In response to feedback from residents, officers from the city council worked closely with new architects, Pollard Thomas Edwards, over the summer to radically rework the scheme, which will provide 78 new one- and two- bedroom council homes with a further 28 planned at Buchan Street.
The revised plans were unveiled to members of the local community at a second consultation event earlier this week.
“We have listened carefully to residents’ concerns,” emphasised Richard Johnson, Cambridge Labour’s Executive Councillor for Housing. “Yes, of course building council housing is a priority for Labour – but we are absolutely committed to doing this in a way that works for the whole community. In particular, local ward councillors and I have pressed for the need to ensure any open space lost is kept to an absolute minimum, whilst also maximising the potential for the site to deliver the council homes Cambridge needs with a new, modern community facility to serve King’s Hedges and the north of the city. I’m pleased we now have a set of revised plans that will deliver all these objectives. We’re still proposing over 100 new council homes but have also managed to cut the amount of open space lost at the Meadows to roughly half of what was in the original plans.”
The new plans would also see the proposed new housing built further away from existing properties to minimise disruption to the families living there – something which was mentioned as a priority at the original consultation.
Councillor Johnson explained;
“One of the concerns about the original plans was that the proposed five storey buildings were too high and over-bearing. We asked the architects to look at reducing this – and they have. The units nearest to the existing housing in Daisy Close and surrounding streets are now staggered at three and four storeys respectively. The six storey unit will be in the furthest corner of the site to minimise its impact. Unlike in the previous plans, we’ve also made sure those beautiful London Plane trees along St. Catherine’s Road and at the Arbury Road junction will be retained, which will also help anchor the new buildings into the landscape.”
The new two-storey community facility at the Meadows will be fully accessible, with additional capacity and built to high standards of environmental sustainability. In terms of children’s play areas, most of the equipment that is there currently will be retained or replaced where it’s no longer suitable for use and some exciting new features added. The capacity of local doctors’ surgeries and schools to accommodate new residents, which was also raised by local residents as a concern, will be tested as part of the planning application process.
Councillor Alex Collis, who represents King’s Hedges where the Buchan Street development is located, also welcomed the new plans;
“As a long-term resident of the area who regularly walks my dog on St. Alban’s Rec and whose son went to the nursery at The Meadows, I can see plenty of advantages to the new scheme. There is a great focus on biodiversity and I’m especially pleased that we were able to minimise the loss of open space and include green routes between the buildings to stop them feeling so enclosed.
The open, green spaces in the north are just as important as anywhere else in the city.
We’ve actually added some new green space into the plans for Buchan Street. Only this week I was talking to a local resident who was really positive about the changes and said to me it felt like residents had really been listened to and that she was pleasantly surprised at the use of the space which could even enhance the area.”
The revised plans are now available to view online, and the consultation will remain open until 25th October. There is a further public event to consult on the Buchan Street plans this Friday, 4th October in the foyer of the Buchan Street Neighbourhood Centre between 2 and 4.
- Boards can be viewed at https://www.ip-cambridge.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/045_Consultation-Boards_6.0-PRINT-lo-res.pdf
- The feedback form can be downloaded at https://www.ip-cambridge.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Meadows-and-Buchan-St-Comments-Form-v5.pdf and emailed back to firstname.lastname@example.org