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‘Stop development at St Matthew’s Piece and create a park’ says Cambridge PPF

A heritage society has called for plans to build student flats at St Matthew’s Piece in Cambridge to be halted and for the land to be made a public green space instead.

The chief executive of Cambridge Past Present and Future, James Littlewood, claimed in an open letter that the best use of the site would be to remove the existing building and turn the area into a park reminiscent of London’s communal green squares.

The proposal for the new St Matthew's centre (34859045)
The proposal for the new St Matthew's centre (34859045)

And he says that the plan to build a block of flats on stilts above the current building would be a ‘significant overdevelopment’ of the land.

“This area of Cambridge has a dearth of green space and also serves some of the city’s less affluent housing,” wrote Mr Littlewood.

He added: “The best scenario for the long-term future of St Matthew’s Piece is to remove the current building when it reaches the end of its life and expand the park into a green square in order to better serve the community. The square is bounded by beautiful plane trees and is reminiscent of the squares in central London, so cherished by their communities.

“There is no reason why such a square would not have a financially viable café and wildlife areas (as do London squares). The piece would be an asset for the long-term sustainability of the city and its communities.”

The existing site at St Matthew's Piece (34859049)
The existing site at St Matthew's Piece (34859049)

He is calling on Cambridge City Council and developers Federated Hermes to work together to achieve that outcome.

The letter continues: “That this land was once in public hands but sold-off is of great frustration – and highlights the failings of the Cambridgeshire local government system.”

The proposed St Matthew’s Centre is next to the St Matthew’s Piece park and would be built on the site of the former Howard Mallett community building, which is currently being used as a dance studio. The site, which previously belonged to Cambridgeshire County Council, is now owned by Federated Hermes which wants to build student accommodation.

The site of the new St Matthew's Centre (34859047)
The site of the new St Matthew's Centre (34859047)

A spokesperson for the developer said: “We would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to participate in the consultation. We will thoroughly review all of the feedback that has been received throughout the consultation process and make any amendments to the scheme before submitting a planning application to Cambridge City Council.

“The St Matthew’s Centre is identified as a potential development site by the council. The new building will be highly sustainable, achieving a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating, a sustainability credential attained only by the top 10 per cent of new developments.”

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