Devonshire Gardens plans for Travis Perkins site in Cambridge due to be rejected, but 48 homes in Cherry Hinton set for approval
Proposals for 100 flats on the Travis Perkins site in Cambridge have been criticised by planning officers, but a 48-home development in Cherry Hinton is recommended for approval.
The two schemes will be discussed at Cambridge City Council’s planning committee on Wednesday (December 1).
Under the Devonshire Gardens plans submitted by developer First Base, the depot building at the Travis Perkins builders’ merchant site, would be demolished to make way for two new buildings offering office space, three buildings housing 100 flats and one building providing a creche, while a public park would be created.
The site east of Devonshire Road is intended as a ‘build-for-rent’ development, built and managed over the long-term by a single developer, with the homes and commercial units only available for rent.
The applicants describe as “an exemplar scheme” but planning officers have recommended that councillors turn it down.
In their report, they say the development would be “unduly large and dominant” and “detract” from the appearance of the surrounding area and heritage assets.
They add: “The quality of some of the proposed residential units is unduly poor, due to the number of single aspect units, long double loaded corridors with no natural light or ventilation, excessive numbers of units per floor, low levels of sunlight to some units.
“As such they would provide a poor standard of amenity for future occupiers.”
But the applicants, in their submission to the council, said of the scheme: “It will exceed the council’s adopted standards on sustainability, but can only do this by making full use of this brownfield site with the mix of uses.
“It has no adverse impact on the residential amenity of the surrounding properties or the character and appearance of the city and its skyline.
“It places a new park at the heart of the development and the existing community with a range of residential, community and commercial buildings around it.”
First Base and investor Railways Pensions Fund (Railpen) carried out a public consultation on the plans, to which 3,000 people contributed.
But in response to the planning application, there was a petition from South Petersfield Residents’ Association and some neighbours objected, with concerns including the density of the site, the amount of office space, the lack of usable green space and insufficient cycle parking.
The county council noted that the “proposed drainage strategy is unlikely to work” and there were also concerns over the impact on existing trees.
There were, however, also some letters in support, including from Cambridge Community Arts and YMCA.
First Base and Railpen responded to planning officers’ comments on the three-acre brownfield site by pointing out the potential of the scheme to improve the environment in the area.
Doug Higgins, project director, First Base, said: “We look forward to Cambridge City Council’s planning committee review of our low carbon approach to redeveloping the Travis Perkins depot on Devonshire Road. Our plans would result in the removal of 120 weekly HGV movements associated with the current Travis Perkins operation; improving air quality and creating safer streets for cyclists and pedestrians.
“Delivering new homes, workspace and community amenities on centrally-located brownfield sites is highly sustainable and protects the green belt.
“Responding to local feedback, we are delighted to be earmarking 50 per cent of the site as a new public open space, with new trees, plants, edible planting spaces and infrastructure to support new habitats and a huge net gain in biodiversity. New community facilities include space for local meetings, education activities and events, a community kitchen, a public pavilion, a ‘library of things’ and a dedicated arts space.
“We are delighted to see that the council actually received more individual letters of support than it did objections and very proud to be supported by such prominent local organisations as Cambridge Sustainable Food, Allia, Indie Cambridge, the YMCA, Cambridge Community Arts and the Mill Road Traders’ Association.”
Meanwhile, an application for 48 homes across two sections of land in Colville Road, in Cherry Hinton, which are separated by a terrace of six two-storey homes, has been made by Cambridge Investment Partnership, which is an equal partnership between Cambridge City Council and Hill Investment Partnerships. It is recommended for approval by the council’s planning officers.
Currently the southern site contains four commercial buildings, which have six flats above them, as well as four other flats in a two-storey building.
In the northern site there are currently eight flats across two two-storey buildings.
Under the proposals, the existing buildings across the two sites would be demolished to make way for the new homes.
On the northern site, three two-storey houses are planned, as well as 17 flats in a three-storey building. The southern site will still contain commercial areas, along with 28 new flats in a part three-storey, part four-storey building.
Of the 48 homes, 45 will be flats and three will be houses, and all of the homes are planned to be provided as council rented homes.
In planning documents, the partnership said: “The development will deliver a high quality form of development that will regenerate these important focal sites along High Street and provide modern, high quality homes for local people.
“The development will deliver many clear and substantial benefits. These include the delivery of all new homes as council rented accommodation.”
A city council planning officer says the proposed development would increase the amount of affordable housing that “helps to meet an identified demand within the local area”.
The officer’s report suggests the plans would provide a “high quality, sustainable development”, and that the design and scale of the proposals “responds positively to the surrounding built form”.
Councillors will determine the decision on both plans.