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Cambridge flats plan deferred over ‘missing’ information

A decision on whether to build 40 new short-term accommodation flats in Cambridge has been delayed after councillors raised concerns over “missing” information.

Google view of the site proposed to be redeveloped to build three new buildings comprising 40 serviced apartments - view of the site before the former care home was (52029059)
Google view of the site proposed to be redeveloped to build three new buildings comprising 40 serviced apartments - view of the site before the former care home was (52029059)

Cambridge City Council’s planning committee met to discuss the plans for three new serviced apartment buildings on Queen Edith’s Way at the site of a former care home, which has been demolished.

The proposed apartments would provide temporary accommodation to serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

The plans had been recommended for approval by the planning officer.

Speaking at the committee meeting yesterday (Wednesday, October 6), the planning officer said the site was considered to be a “highly suitable location”.

The agent for the applicant GCR Camprop Eight Ltd, told councillors there is “significant demand” for short-term accommodation for staff and visitors to the hospital.

He explained the proposed buildings were of “bespoke architectural design” and that thought had been given to make the buildings look “attractive”, as well as to the scale and massing of the buildings to avoid “overshadowing” and “loss of privacy” in adjacent properties.

However, one of the neighbours to the site spoke at the meeting to object to the plans arguing the scheme presented the “decimation of a community asset in the form of a residential care home to be replaced by a hotel that offers no benefits”.

He added: “Residents are concerned that the true scale of the development remains unknown and that there will be considerable overshadowing.

“We are also concerned that if it is commercially unviable, there will be a change of use.”

Councillor Sam Davies, ward councillor for Queen Edith’s, raised concerns over why the proposals were not being built on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, as was suggested in the Local Plan, rather than “spilling over” into Queen Edith’s Way.

Councillor Katie Thornburrow, executive councillor for planning policy and transport, also raised concerns over the change of the site from a care home.

She said: “I think the loss of a care home is something to question and is of concern, as we have an ageing population in Cambridge. Where we have got care homes I think they are to be valued.”

One of the council officers explained that as the care home had been demolished and there was only the generic use designation for the site, it did not prevent developments of a different type.

During the discussion of the plans, councillors raised questions and concerns over access, ventilation, disabled parking, and how the waste produced by proposed future occupants would be stored and collected.

Cllr Thornburrow added: “There is information missing about disability access, about waste collection, a huge amount of information is asked to be put as conditions when it could easily have been provided or collected.”

Following the questions, Cllr Dave Baigent, the vice chair of the planning committee, left the council chamber to have a brief discussion with officers.

On his return Cllr Baigent proposed that the item be deferred.

“There seems to be major concerns, and there seems to be a lot of conditions. I’m going to defer this until we have got further details,” he said.

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