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Delay to redevelopment of Park Street multi-storey in Cambridge as contractor drops out

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The redevelopment of Park Street car park in Cambridge will be delayed because the city council’s contractor has unexpectedly dropped out.

Engineering company Sir Robert McAlpine said it was unable to proceed due to other significant schemes stretching its resources.

An artist’s impression of Park Street car park redevelopment. Image: Marick Real Estate Ltd / Dexter Moren Associates
An artist’s impression of Park Street car park redevelopment. Image: Marick Real Estate Ltd / Dexter Moren Associates

The multi-storey was due to close early in 2021 until 2023 for its conversion to a “premium aparthotel” with 229 rooms, a public courtyard linking Park Street and Bridge Street and a basement car park.

The council and development partner Marick Real Estate said they would press on with the scheme and had interest from other potential contractors.

StayCity, which will operate the hotel under its Wilde Aparthotel brand, said it was committed to the project.

The council said the revised date for the car park closure will be determined by the design work and tendering process required to secure a new contractor. It pledged to liaise with stakeholders and local businesses.

The project has already dogged by delays, with the city council and developer agreeing in October 2019 to delay the work for a year following negotiations with traders so that extra technical work could be carried out and mitigation plans put in place.

Cllr Nicky Massey, executive councillor for transport and community safety, said: “It is disappointing to have to delay start on site at this point. There are, however, some benefits for both the public and local businesses to having the car park open for longer as we move through the current coronavirus crisis.

“I’m delighted, however, that during these challenging times, this much-needed redevelopment of the car park is still progressing and will create employment and economic benefit in both the short and longer term for the city.

“We will keep in touch with local neighbours, residents, traders and landowners to keep them informed and resolve any issues that arise during the course of the construction project. Our aim, and that of our development partner and their contractor, will be to minimise disruption and get the scheme completed as soon as possible.”

Traders in the area have voiced concerns about the impact of the closure of the car park and the reduction in parking spaces. The council said the reduction reflects its determination to reduce congestion and carbon emissions in the city centre, and push alternative transport such as Park & Ride facilities.

The new car park will feature 225 public car parking spaces, including Blue Badge parking, flexible cycle parking, including for cargo bikes, and motorcycle parking.

Electric vehicle charging points will be provided for 10 per cent of the capacity initially - 22 spaces - but with infrastructure in place to expand it throughout.

An artist’s impression of Park Street car park redevelopment. Image: Marick Real Estate Ltd / Dexter Moren Associates
An artist’s impression of Park Street car park redevelopment. Image: Marick Real Estate Ltd / Dexter Moren Associates

Traders were also concerned about the car park being closed through two Christmas shopping periods.

But the council said the outcome of grounds investigation and monitoring completed this year, alongside archaeological requirements, made it impossible to complete the project in less time

To minimise disruption, however, the council said it had agreed with the developer to complete the work in a phased manner, meaning the car park will reopen in advance of the completion of the aparthotel.

The council, which will continue to own the site, said the scheme will achieve a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, high performance construction materials, mechanical ventilation heat recovery, air source heat pumps and solar panels. Biodiversity will be encouraged with green walls and climbing plants to attract pollinating insects, bird boxes, a bee hotel , and a ‘living roof’ for the aparthotel.

Following questions about its environmental performance, the new development will now be operated by an air source heat pump technology, using only electricity and not gas.

A revised planning application due to be determined this month will feature a façade and window designs that reflect the appearance of nearby properties while reducing the carbon and operational emissions.

Last year, a report by Savills suggested the redevelopment would have a number of economic benefits, including £2.5m annual expenditure in the city from guests staying at the aparthotel and the creation of around 35 full-time jobs, plus jobs created during the construction period.

Many trader argued the benefits would come too late for them, following the disruption.

Marcus Boret from Marick Real Estate Ltd, the development partner for the project, said: “Despite this recent setback, we are encouraged by the interest being expressed by the main contractor marketplace.

“There has been considerable progress since we last reported this scheme. We now have a lot of data on the site follow our intrusive investigations and monitoring.

“This, coupled with comprehensive detailed design has allowed us to gain critical feedback from main and specialist sub-contractors for logistics, complicated boundary designs, and programme co-ordination, all of which will allow us to minimise the disruption when we deliver this project.

“Discussions with all key stakeholders are progressing well, and we are receiving a lot of positive feedback from the investigations that have been completed. We are also pleased that we have managed to improve the sustainability of our scheme and eliminate gas entirely from this.”

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