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Debate over ‘brutal’ design but 160 homes at University of Cambridge’s Eddington development are approved

Councillors approved plans for 160 new homes at Eddington, praising their sustainability - although some argued the blocks of flats suffered from “brutal” design.

The homes are due to be built in the development on land between Madingley Road and Huntingdon Road, in the north-west of Cambridge.

How the homes in Eddington will look. Image: Durkan Latimer
How the homes in Eddington will look. Image: Durkan Latimer

Outline approval was granted in 2013 for up to 3,000 homes and 2,000 student rooms.

The latest detailed plans for the 160 homes were submitted to Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council by Durkan Latimer Eddington LLP and University of Cambridge.

The plans will be the last residential stage of the university’s development under the existing outline permission.

Of the 160 homes, 89 are expected to be one and two-bedroom flats, while 71 are due to be three and four-bedroom houses.

The applicants said the “high quality” homes will “integrated well”, with a representative telling a joint development control committee meeting on Wednesday (April 5), that the design had been “carefully considered” to make it a “low speed environment”.

All cycle parking will be at ground level, he added.

Concerns had been raised by neighbours in Huntingdon Road, who feared the buildings would overlook their homes and impact the area’s character.

But planning officers did not have concerns about overlooking or overshadowing due to the distance between the properties.

Cllr Anna Bradnam (Lib Dem, Milton and Waterbeach) noted that the flats would overlook a green area and that the “gridded design” on the top floor, in particular the “big monolithic window frames” around the top terraces, could be “overbearing”.

Cllr Simon Smith (Lab, Castle) thought the design was quite “brutal”. He pointed to the change between this and the grassy area and said the proposal was “trying to be something this area is not”. He predicted it would be “completely out of character”.

Cllr Katie Porrer (Lib Dem, Market) “commended the long gardens”, but was disappointed by the lack of a lift planned in one of the buildings, and had concerns about the “big blocks” proposed.

Planning officers explained that the design had evolved through the process and the intention was to create a “strong frontage building”.

Cllr Dr Martin Cahn (Lib Dem, Histon and Impington) “rather liked” the design and said the building would be a “feature of interest” to see from the park area.

Cllr Katie Thornburrow (Lab, Petersfield) said the buildings in Eddington were “very well detailed” and believed the proposed design would fit in with the area.

She noted that once people had moved into the flats and put plants and canopies on the terraces, the block would look “much better” than the illustrative images showed.

Cllr Thornburrow was only disappointed that there were still some single aspect homes proposed and raised concerns about overheating as summers got hotter.

Cllr Smith said he did like the “bigger picture” of the proposals, adding: “This has got to be one of the most progressive sustainable schemes that this committee has had in front of us.”

The committee unanimously supported approving the plans.

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