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Councillors approve Brookgate’s Devonshire Quarter plan for Cambridge station area

The redevelopment plans for part of the Cambridge station area have been approved after concerns over its scale and impact on cycling were addressed.

CB1 Devonshire Quarter development Picture: Formation Architects (49827909)
CB1 Devonshire Quarter development Picture: Formation Architects (49827909)

The scheme will create 50,000 sq ft of office space, a 141-room aparthotel, cafés and restaurants, and a 201-space multi-storey commuter car park for Network Rail.

The new buildings, designed by Formation Architects, will be located on part of the existing station car park, between Carter Bridge and Great Northern Road.

This will complete the northern quarter of the CB1 masterplan and create a new street between Station Square and Devonshire Road with what is described as a “high-quality pedestrian and cycle link” from the station to the city.

Cambridge City Council’s planning committee voted on Friday (July 30) to approve the application.

Councillors decided that the applicant had addressed concerns that led to the rejection of a previous submission in October, which was the second attempt to secure permission following a plan in June the previous year.

In October, councillors opposed the scale and impact of the proposed hotel on the Carter Bridge and nearby homes, and said the wider layout failed to “provide high quality cycling infrastructure commensurate with Cambridge as the leading cycling city in the UK”.

They added that it failed to demonstrate compatibility with safety and prioritisation objectives for pedestrians and cyclists, including aspirations for the Chisholm Trail cycling route.

But Brookgate CB1 Limited, which has been behind the wider redevelopment of the station area, returned with this latest application that provides a “separated and safe cycle route” through the site and an “improved design” for the aparthotel and car park that is “further away from the Carter Bridge”.

CB1 Devonshire Quarter development Picture: Formation Architects (49827897)
CB1 Devonshire Quarter development Picture: Formation Architects (49827897)

The western street elevation of the office building has been set back to widen the public realm and increase the space for pedestrian, cycle and vehicle movements.

Cycle access has been refined in conjunction with Camcycle with protection of the future Chisholm Trail route, and an improved cycle route through the site.

However, despite these changes, the council still received 43 letters of objection, including the lack of a plan for car park conversion to cycling, the impact on the conservation area and the design of the buildings.

The aparthotel sits over the multi-storey station car park, with access to the hotel via a double height reception and restaurant/bar space facing onto the new street linking Devonshire Road with Station Square. The office building faces the junction with Station Square.

The scheme sits within the mixed-use CB1 estate masterplan, which was devised by Richard Rogers in 2010.

Sven Topel, chief executive at Brookgate, said: “These two buildings form the final pieces of the CB1 estate and are essential to the provision of high-quality office space and amenities for the local community and businesses in Cambridge. Importantly, the redevelopment will improve access for pedestrians and cyclists and create a safe, welcoming gateway from the station into the city centre.”

Tim Quick, director and trustee at Formation Architects, said the two buildings “will not only complete the CB1 estate but deliver high quality office and hotel accommodation in this highly sustainable location”.

He added: “The proposals have matured over a long period of time and are the result of close collaboration with the client and the design team, as well as intense consultation with the Cambridge planning officers, Camcycle and the local community.”

The design of the cycle and pedestrian paths has been revised to respond to concerns raised by South Petersfield Residents’ Association (SOPRA) and Camcycle.

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