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College plan ‘will turn Cambridge street into stone desert’

Residents are objecting to plans by Pembroke College to build new student accommodation across five neighbouring back gardens, which they say would destroy trees, cause traffic problems and impact on the character of a conservation area.

The plans are for three new homes to be built across the five back gardens of houses at 32 to 40 Panton Street. The new homes would front onto St Eligius Street – which residents warn is so narrow that cars regularly damage front garden walls.

Some of the residents concerned about the Pembroke College planning proposal. Picture: Keith Heppell
Some of the residents concerned about the Pembroke College planning proposal. Picture: Keith Heppell

Jasper Green, chair of the North Newtown Residents’ Association, said around 30 students would have to share one garden and he feared this would create a noise nuisance. He added a similar application made 15 years ago had been rejected at the time following a planning appeal.

Mr Green said: “They were very clear [at the appeal] that the rear gardens were an integral part of the back lane character of St Eligius Street, and they provide a green interruption to the hard surfaces of bricks and mortar.”

Jean Gooder, who lives on nearby Brookside Lane, said St Eligius Street “is narrow by any standards”, adding: “No car, let alone larger vehicles, can pass without mounting pavements at several points. This is already damaging properties in costly ways and is ultimately dangerous.”

Another objector added: “A number of trees in St Eligius Street will be destroyed if the proposal goes ahead. It is proposed to plant a number of new trees, but they all will be in the inner yards of the new houses, hidden from the street. Of what use will they be to us as residents? This bit of St Eligius Street will be turning into a stone desert.”

Pembroke College proposes to build three two-bed units and refurbish the existing coach house to the rear of 32 Panton Street.

The bursar of Pembroke College, Dr Andrew Cage, said the houses were needed for single-child student families.

He added: “We have held consultations and made some adaptations following the helpful feedback​... as far as we know, overall the planned development is regarded as a rather positive development for the area.”

Residents have launched a petition against the plans at https://chng.it/p2fTNFqBGw.

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