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Cambridge's former Carl Zeiss headquarters earmarked for apartments

Thirty-three high-quality apartments could be created in a new development off Cambridge’s Coldhams Lane on the site of the former Carl Zeiss headquarters.

Marcus Johnson, a director of city-based Kirly Group Holdings, said Cherry Tree Apartments would be primarily one-bedroom homes with three studios, most ranging in size from 344 sq ft to 470 sq ft in four blocks with a different look and feel. The existing two-storey building, vacated when Carl Zeiss moved to Cambourne last year, sits in one-and-a-half acres and has its own access from Rosemary Lane.

Kirly Group Holdings has plans to develop 33 apartments off Coldhams Lane on the site of the former Carl Zeiss headquarters (34596907)
Kirly Group Holdings has plans to develop 33 apartments off Coldhams Lane on the site of the former Carl Zeiss headquarters (34596907)

“We were keen on the site because the building is ideal for conversion,” said Marcus. “It's in a great area, close to the lake and when Marshalls moves there will be a whole new urban area with lots of facilities. I am convinced this area of Cambridge, from the airport to the lake and Cherry Hinton Hall, is going to be one of the nicest residential suburbs of Cambridge.

“The need for accommodation for the science-based industries we are attracting to Cambridge is clear, and Cherry Hinton is particularly attractive to those who will be working on the biomedical campus, whether for AstraZeneca or Addenbrooke’s. The need for reasonably-priced accommodation within cycling distance is huge.”

He hopes the proposals would be viewed as a permitted development and not have to go through the complete planning process. “In an ideal world we will have all the initial permissions and regulatory steps completed by the first week of June,” he said. “Because the main structure is already in place and all the utilities are connected, we are hoping the development will be rapid.

Interior of the former Carl Zeiss headquarters
Interior of the former Carl Zeiss headquarters

“We are in final negotiations with builders but our timetable calls for a show flat to be delivered within three months and the final delivery of the last apartment 12 months later. So the apartments will be delivered to the new residents next summer.”

There has been input to the plans from several Cambridge-based firms - legal advice from Howes Percival, the principal advisers are Bloomhall and 29 Architecture, COEL has produced designs for the show apartment, and the potential builders have strong local connections.

It is “unlikely” the homes will be aimed at the student market and Marcus said: “The apartments will be really good value compared to some of the city centre developments. We are expecting the smallest to be around £200,000 and the most expensive around £300,000 in today's prices.

“Quite how much inflation there is over the next year, who can tell? The final sales prices will be set when we are further down the road.”

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