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Community asked to help shape area of major change in Cambridge

Tom Pike, planning manager for Anderson Group walking around the proposed delevopment areas of the lakes off Burnside in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Tom Pike, planning manager for Anderson Group walking around the proposed delevopment areas of the lakes off Burnside in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

A community is being invited to help create a vision for an 'area of major change' in Cambridge.

Developer Anderson Group is hosting a community planning weekend later this month to give residents the chance to draw up a masterplan for land south of Coldhams Lane.

“It’s about building good quality houses in good quality communities,” the company’s Christian Criscione told the Cambridge Independent ahead of a launch of the project on Tuesday (October 30).

The former quarry and landfill site includes the Cherry Hinton lakes and land parcels to the north of the railway line.

It has been identified by Cambridge City Council as an “area of major change” and the authority has been actively promoting the land for regeneration with “appropriate redevelopment”.

As well as built development such as housing, the council has expressed ideas including the opening of the lakes, environmental improvements, outdoor recreation areas and a new urban country park.

Anderson Group owns 60 per cent of the site with the rest owned partly by the city council and Peterhouse, the University of Cambridge college.

Anderson’s property development arm specialises in delivering environmental and community-led regeneration on technically challenging sites.

“What we do is identify land and identify demand through conversations with major stakeholders and local interest groups because you can’t dump houses on a site. You have to place-make and that’s what our ethos is,” said Christian.

He continued: “What we’re trying to promote through this process is bringing forward what the council has identified as an area of major change in their local plan that doesn’t just include the parcels we own but the whole area that includes the Sainsbury’s, the TA Centre and it also includes Coldham’s Business Park on Norman Way.

“In order to undertake any development, we need a plan in place for the whole area.”

The company has held conversations with the council, local members and stakeholders.

“But now it’s time to get on. We’ve owned the site for eight years, let’s crack on and build something worthwhile here,” added Christian.

They have appointed architects and masterplanners JTP along with other consultants to run the community process and help to come up with an illustrative masterplan.

The city council specifically mentions the creation of an urban country park in its guidance for the area – and this will be centre to Anderson’s plans.

“Our intention would be through the whole development process to bring forward that idea as a formal country park for everyone locally to enjoy. On top of that, we’ve got the two lakes,” said Christian.

Residents and those wishing to contribute to the vision will be made aware of the need for some development on the site, which can help fund the creation of the park.

Other opportunities for recreation areas on the site could include, but are not limited to, walking, bird watching, cycling, non-motorised cycle BMX tracks, and other leisure uses.

But residents will not be told what form that development would take and what the makeup of it might be.

“It’s something we want to do but it will need to be paid for. So, we’re seeking an appropriate development which would pay for the creation of a country park and the opening up of the lakes,” said Christian.

He continued: “We’re going to give people a blank sheet of paper to say we want housing, we want biotech companies to come in and make business thrive in this area... we don’t know what people will come up with. But that’s the beauty of it. We want to be really hands off and let them have a say and decide what they want to see here. We want it to be up to the community.”

The company has also recruited an expert to examine what the cost will be of setting up a country park and will be on hand to discuss this at next month’s community planning weekend.

Setting up a community interest company to run the park is also something that will be discussed.

The community planning weekend runs from Friday, November 23 to Tuesday, November 27 at the Holiday Inn Express on Norman Way, and gives residents the opportunity to share local knowledge and contribute through workshops, hands-on planning groups and site visits.

There will also be an exhibition which explains the background of the “area of major change” and the land parcels owned by Anderson Group.

Participation is on a drop-in basis – there is no need to pre-register – and you can stay for a short while, a few hours or for the whole event if you are able to. Team members and technical experts are on hand to answer any questions.

Following the public workshop days, the Anderson Group team will analyse the outcomes and draw up a vision for the area, including an illustrative masterplan.

This will be presented back to the local community on Tuesday, November 27 at 7pm at the Holiday Inn Express.

After the weekend, the Anderson Group will prepare a planning application for the land parcels, which it is anticipated will be submitted to Cambridge City Council in summer 2019.

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