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Councillors vote against plans for redeveloped Station Sqaure silo tower block

By Ben Comber

Station Square view of block K1 and I1
Station Square view of block K1 and I1

Local historian urges redevelopment of Cambridge train station to follow example of King's Cross

Station Square view of block K1 and I1
Station Square view of block K1 and I1

Proposed replacement of the old flour mill silo off CB1 Station Square were refused by the city council’s planning committee yesterday – a decision which could have seen an eight-storey retail and residential unit take its place.

The original silo building was lost to a fire in 2010, causing structural damage, and the building no longer stands.

The scheme also includes demolition of Murdoch House, noted as having an adverse impact on the setting of the station, which would become a mixed-use office block with 65 homes and retail or cafe floorspace.

The lack of affordable housing was raised as an issue but was insufficiently supported to be considered for justifying refusal.

Grounds for refusal

Inadequate cycling provisions

Poor facilities for residents

Inappropriate design for setting

A majority voted for rufal based on the adequacy of cycling provisions, the lack of community facilities for residents who would occupy the apartments, and design issues in that they are not adequate in the context of the building’s surroundings.

Councillor Damien Tunnacliffe said: “it’s a failure to achieve what this square deserves which is to surprise and delight. This building, K1, fails to do justice to the setting. It does not enhance the Mill which is considered to be an important aspect, and it does not enhance the square.”

Recommendations were to approve proposals, however councilors voted unanimously to refuse the application.

Although the developing architects have described the design as seeking ‘to echo the silo in terms of proportions and height to complement the adjacent historic Mill as a local landmark’, the design was not well received by some residents in addition to the councillors who raised their concerns.

Local historian and Blue Badge Guide Allan Brigham said: “The proposed design looks totally incongruous situated next to a 19th-century railway station. As a historian I think it’s out of place and as a resident I see no public benefit.

“We were promised a heritage centre on this site when planning permission was originally given. Instead of visitors to Cambridge being greeted by a facility that would explain the history of the city, they are to be greeted by yet another commercial tower that could be anywhere in western Europe.

“The CB1 development is a real disappointment. You only have to compare it with King’s Cross, which successfully integrated the historic station buildings with new public spaces, social housing and a dynamic hub at St Martin’s Art School which is totally missing in Cambridge.

“We have been given lots of student accommodation, some very expensive flats, minimal affordable housing and shops that you can get in any other city. Nothing says ‘Cambridge’, which to me means beautiful buildings and attractive green spaces.”


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