Eddington - Cambridge’s newest district - opens its doors to the city

PUBLISHED: 19:26 08 September 2017

Eddington, the newest district in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Eddington, the newest district in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Iliffe Media Ltd

An exciting new community is taking shape - and it’s hosting an array of public events for the Open Cambridge festival.

Heather Topel, project director for the North West Cambridge Development. Picture: Keith HeppellHeather Topel, project director for the North West Cambridge Development. Picture: Keith Heppell

After three decades in the making, Eddington is throwing open its doors to the public on Saturday (September 9, 2017).

The new district, planned by the University of Cambridge, is taking shape fast, with more than 70 homes already occupied, the first students moving into Girton College’s Swirles Court accommodation block and private homes about to go on sale.

The new Sainsbury’s supermarket at the heart of Eddington’s Market Square opened its doors on Wednesday (September 6), in time for Saturday’s festivities, which form part of the city-wide Open Cambridge festival.

More than 20 events, from architectural and ecological tours to art workshops and a Roman street party, will take place at Eddington, a site that was farmland for centuries and largely off-limits to the public.

Matt Cullen, manager of the new Sainsbury's in Eddington, with some of the staff in the store. Picture: Keith HeppellMatt Cullen, manager of the new Sainsbury's in Eddington, with some of the staff in the store. Picture: Keith Heppell

Heather Topel, project director for the North West Cambridge Development, told the Cambridge Independent: “There aren’t many developers who have the longevity, the vision and the patience to develop a scheme like this. The university first conceived of this in the 1980s and broke ground in 2013.

“It’s fantastic. I’ve looked at these plans for so long and to see it come to fruition and people use it is great. Seeing the children enjoy the primary school and then our first residents move in has been very rewarding. The facilities that will open – like the supermarket and the community centre – will draw in people from other parts of the city.”

Many of Saturday’s events will showcase the architectural qualities of the buildings and the sustainability features of the development, including rainwater harvesting, the district heating system and energy centre, the innovative underground bin storage system and recycling facilities.

“There is a range,” added Heather. “We have a series of child-friendly events for people with families, such as programmes with our public arts team. We have a Roman street party to draw on the history of the site because we have done extensive archaeological work over the years and identified a number of Roman finds, which will be on display.

Eddington's Market Square. Picture: Keith HeppellEddington's Market Square. Picture: Keith Heppell

“We have ecological walking tours and for people who are interested in the community and types of building here, we have a very broad range of architectural tours, hosted by celebrated and renowned architects from Cambridge, the UK and beyond.

“Some of the events have to be booked in advance and are booking up fast. Others are drop-in events. Sainsbury’s will be open and foodPark will be here.”

Walking around Eddington, there is a sense of a community beginning to form, with cyclists using the extensive network of paths, roads opening and residents moving in.

“By April of next year, we’ll have people in 700 one and two-bedroom flats,” said Heather. People will start moving into the housing that’s here for sale next spring.”

Inside one of the properties. Picture: Keith HeppellInside one of the properties. Picture: Keith Heppell

Hill, which is building the Athena development for sale on the open market, will launch its marketing suite for the new homes on Saturday.

The university will soon begin to consider phase two of the development, which will bring more homes and potentially some academic and commercial lab space. A third phase is expected too, which could lead to development on site for the next couple of decades.

For now, as the earliest residents settle in, Open Eddington offers a wonderful chance to witness the community being formed.

Book at the Open Cambridge website.

The Market Square. Picture: Keith HeppellThe Market Square. Picture: Keith Heppell

The Market Square

At the centre of Eddington lies this square, where Sainsbury’s opens its 2,000 sq ft store today.

“It’s the size where you can do a weekly shop but sits within the community rather than dominating it and it has an underground car park,” says Heather.

Rainwater drains into lakes and is harvested as non-potable water. Picture: Keith HeppellRainwater drains into lakes and is harvested as non-potable water. Picture: Keith Heppell

“There will be other retail shops all around the market square in time and above them is flats and people are about to move into these. We hope this will become the heart of the community.

Although the other retail units have yet to be marketed, there is already interest.

“We will make sure there is the right kind of balance,” says Heather. “There will be some kind of food and beverage offer, whether that’s a restaurant or café, and a pub or bar, and then a variety of other units. There is 8-10 depending on how large the retailer needs them.”

Above the units are flats for university who qualify, which will be rented out at subsidised levels.”

Work continues on Eddington. Picture: Keith HeppellWork continues on Eddington. Picture: Keith Heppell

Storey’s Field Community Centre

Run jointly by the university and city, this huge building is one space and will be finished this autumn.

“We will be doing behind the scenes tours with the architect so you can get a look in,” says Heather.

Some of the new homes in Eddington. Picture: Keith HeppellSome of the new homes in Eddington. Picture: Keith Heppell

“It will run activities that you get at a traditional community centre, like book clubs or mums and tots, but the main hall is one room and is designed for everything from film screenings to chamber music concerts to a big Zumba class.

“It’s a beautiful building designed by architects MUMA, who recently designed the Whitbread Gallery. It’s one volume and takes its proportions from a college dining hall. It’s one of our taller structures.

“This has special acoustic banners in it so you can change the way the building functions depending on what is required. If you need lower or higher reverberation rates, they can adjust it.”

Open Eddington events:

The building that will be the community centre. Picture: Keith HeppellThe building that will be the community centre. Picture: Keith Heppell

Storey’s Field Centre and Nursery talk and tour by MUMA - 12-1.30pm; 1.30-3pm; 3-4.30pm

Cycling and public transport

Sustainable transport is at the heart of the thinking behind Eddington, with segregated cycle provision throughout, walking routes and good bus links. Speed limits on the roads will be kept at 20mph.

Girton College's Swirles Court. Picture: Keith HeppellGirton College's Swirles Court. Picture: Keith Heppell

“The bus stop in the market square is for the universal bus that goes to the railway station and to Addenbrooke’s on the guided busway. It starts on Friday September 8,” said Heather.

“The Ridgeway is our cycle superhighway – which runs from Girton to the market square. It’s just for cyclists and pedestrians. All of the properties have secure and covered bike storage.”

When finished, there will be 12,000 bike stands.

Open Eddington events:

Girton College's Swirles Court. Picture: Keith HeppellGirton College's Swirles Court. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cycle Cinema at Eddington 11am-1pm – drop-in

Eddington Cycle Tours 9am-noon; 1-5pm – pre-bookable

Ecology and environmental measures

The University of Cambridge Primary School. Picture: Keith HeppellThe University of Cambridge Primary School. Picture: Keith Heppell

Project ecologist Mike Dean will run tours on Saturday showing the ecological features of the site, including efforts to help great-crested newts, a protected species.

“The road that comes in from Madingley Road has a one-metre diameter newt tunnel underneath it. It even has little ledges in it in case it gets too wet. They don’t live on site but they sometimes forage here so we’ve provided access,” says Heather.

“There are lakes on the edge of the development to provide water vole habitats and some of the buildings have bat boxes or swift boxes. We also have some in wooded areas.

“We’ve planted over 2,000 trees. There were very few natural features on the site. There is one substantial tree that marks the boundary between Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, which we’ve obviously retained.”

Open Eddington event:

Ecology at Eddington, tour by Mike Dean, project ecologist - 1-2.15pm; 2.15-3.15pm; 3.30pm-4.45PM (sold out)

Rainwater harvesting

“We have one of the steepest slopes in Cambridge here – five metres from top to bottom!” said Heather.

“We collect the surface water using gravity in sustainable drainage channels. It’s held in the lakes, treated on site and recycled into the site as non-potable water for flushing toilets, for washing machines and for irrigating lakes.

“If there was extreme rainfall, there is the opportunity for it to overtop and we’d hold it there before very slowly release it into Washpit Brook, and in doing that we should be able to help a flooding problem downstream in Girton.

“Girton also has flooding issues from Beck Brook, which doesn’t run through here.”

Open Eddington event:

Cambridge Water Rainwater Harvesting Showcase 9am-4pm – drop-in

The masterplan

Over three phases that could take two decades to deliver, the site will have:

• 1,500 homes for university and college workers

• 1,500 homes for sale

• 2,000 post-graduate student bed spaces

• 100,000 sq m of research facilities, including 40,000 sq m for research institutes and private facilities connected to the university

Open Eddington event:

Creating an Urban Extension – tour by Jonathan Rose from AECOM - 11am-12.30pm (sold out); 1.30-3pm (sold out); 3.30-5pm

Other drop-in events

The Underground Waste System at Eddington, 9am-noon

Archaeology at Eddington (Christopher Evans from Cambridge Archaeological Unit) 9am-4pm

Community Events for the Storey’s Field Centre (at the School) 9am-4.30pm

Eddington Roman Street Party 9am-4pm

Community Events for the Storey’s Field Centre (at the School) 9am-4.30pm

Renewable Technology in Construction by Wates 10am-3pm

Self-Guided Tour of Eddington 9am-5pm

foodPark at Eddington noon - 5pm

Other pre-bookable tours

The First Homes at Eddington talk by contractor R G Carter with architects Witherford Watson Mann and Maccreanor Lavington - 9-9:45am; 11-11.45am (sold out); 12-12:45pm; 1-1:45pm

Cambridge’s First Energy Centre and District Heating Network Tour by Ener-G with Vital Energi - sold out

Swirles Court-Student Accommodation at Eddington – tour by R H Partnership - 9-10am; 11am-noon; 1-2pm; 3-4pm

Inspired Designs: Market Housing at Eddington Talk by Pollard Thomas Edwards and Alison Brooks Architects - 9-9:45am; 11- 11.45am

Dr Bike at Eddington 9am – 12.30pm; 1-5pm

Artscapers at Eddington - 10-11am; 1.30-2.30pm; 3pm–4pm

University of Cambridge Primary School tour by Marks Barfield Architects - 10.30am-noon; 12.30-2pm

Architectural mixed brief – talk and tour by Wilkinson Eyre - 11am-noon

Courtyards and Communal Identity tour by Mecanoo - 12-1pm; 2-3pm

Storey’s Field Centre and Nursery talk and tour by MUMA - 12-1.30pm; 1.30-3pm; 3-4.30pm

Public Art Discussion chaired by Harriet Loffler with the Contemporary Art Society - 12.30-1.30pm

Who are Postdocs – Talk by Rob Wallach, director of the Office of Post-Doctoral Affairs - 12.30-1pm; 2-2.30pm; 3-3.30pm

Talk and Walking Tour of the key worker homes by Stanton Williams Architects (sold out)

An Alphabet Museum: The Carved Inscription at the Parish of Ascension Burial Ground - 2pm-2.45pm

Architectural walk by Mole Architects (sold out)

Fata Morgana teahouse: An Afternoon Tea Party exploring the Public Art in the landscape (sold out)

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