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Developers plan ‘five-minute neighbourhoods’ as they progress vision for 5,600-home Hartree in north Cambridge

Master developers behind plans for a major housing expansion on the edge of Cambridge have said they want to design and create ‘five-minute neighbourhoods’ - and have also proposed more research and development space than originally envisaged.

The development team hope residents who live in the proposed Hartree development are able to access all they need in daily life without having to “jump in a car”.

The site for Hatree, where the Anglian Water waste water treatment works currently sit in the north of Cambridge. Image: LandsecU+I and TOWN
The site for Hatree, where the Anglian Water waste water treatment works currently sit in the north of Cambridge. Image: LandsecU+I and TOWN

Hartree is the core site of the proposed North East Cambridge development, where around 5,600 new homes could be built if Anglian Water’s waste water treatment plant is relocated.

The sewage works are proposed for a move to the countryside north of the A14 between Horningsea and Fen Ditton, known as Honey Hill. An examination process for this relaction is ongoing.

Meanwhile, the master developers for the Hartree development, LandsecU+I and TOWN, updated councillors from Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council on the planning progress at a pre-application briefing on Monday (February 12).

Representatives told councillors that they are hoping to formally submit a planning application in November this year if the sewage works relocation is granted permission.

One of the development representatives said: “The masterplan vision is to create a place where it is possible to live locally. That is a real key part of the five-minute approach, which we are using as a driving force for the design approach.

“There will be a lot of people that will be living on the site. We have got 5,600 homes and the types of homes that we are going to be designing are higher density in terms of apartment living.

“There is a real opportunity here between proximity of uses and how we design the urban form in order for that density to feel like it is a good place to be.

“There is an element of affordability in living in a five-minute city where you can walk to work, drop your kids off at school. pick up a bottle of milk down the bottom of the street… but there is also the other side of that, which is quality of life that comes with being able to access what you need in your everyday life without having to jump in a car.”

Cllr Anna Bradnam (Lib Dem, Milton and Waterbeach) highlighted that the representatives had said 90,000 square metres of space within the development is proposed to be used to create commercial research and development buildings.

The site of the Cambridge waste water treatment plant. Picture: Google
The site of the Cambridge waste water treatment plant. Picture: Google

Cllr Bradnam said this was “nearly four times” the 23,000 sq m that had been originally proposed in the area action plan and questioned the justification.

One of the representatives said they were designing a mixed use development, and said the commercial buildings would help support the planned shops in the “district centres”.

They said they had evidence of greater demand for research and development sites in the area.

Cllr Simon Smith (Lab, Castle) said he had concerns about the increase in commercial space proposed, saying it was a “significant departure” from previous plans.

He said: “What I am concerned about are the consequences of that intensification and whether it is actually leading to increased densification of the residential areas, pressure on the heights of the development, and I think in the play line, which looks to be quite a downgrade from what we have seen before.

“On a visit to London I came away convinced we need to have the primary schools located along that play line so they have direct access to the multi-use of the limited available usable green space that we have on the site.

“I think [the commercial neighbourhood] will be a dead zone during the evenings and at weekends and holidays and I think that is also problematic.”

One of the development team said they would come back to councillors with more information on the density and height of the development and “how it all fits together”.

The representatives said they hoped to hold another briefing session with councillors before they formally submit a planning application.

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