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Historic house again at risk of demolition despite residents' protest


By Josh Thomas | Local Democracy Reporter


291 Hills Road. From left James Berry, Wendy Blyth, and Valerie Lechene opposed the original plans. Picture: Keith Heppell
291 Hills Road. From left James Berry, Wendy Blyth, and Valerie Lechene opposed the original plans. Picture: Keith Heppell

An historic Cambridge house is in line for the wrecking ball again, despite campaigners and residents having thought they'd won a victory against flats plans for the site.

The original vision for 291 Hills Road by Gibson Developments
The original vision for 291 Hills Road by Gibson Developments

On April 25, unpopular plans to demolish the Edwardian house at 291 Hills Road to make way for 15 flats at the junction with Long Road were rejected by Cambridge City Council’s planning committee after claims the added traffic could “jam up” the south of the city.

More than 170 objections were received to plans to demolish an Edwardian house at 291 Hills Road to make way for 15 flats at the junction with Long Road.

Locals, campaigners and councillors banded together to oppose the plans.

Campaigners celebrated when the flats plans were rejected, but now more plans for the house’s demolition have been submitted to Cambridge City Council.

Residents throw a party to say farewell to neighbouring 292 Hills Road, Cambridge
Residents throw a party to say farewell to neighbouring 292 Hills Road, Cambridge

Cllr Colin McGerty, who represents Queen Edith’s ward at Cambridge City Council, said the move was “disappointing” but not surprising.

“It is not surprising,” said Cllr McGerty.

“The planning application (for the flats) was rejected, but the demolition of the property is a completely separate matter.

“It is a disappointing escalation in the methodology of developers. The demolition of the building is difficult to prevent and it is disappointing they are demolishing a perfectly sustainable building with no plan put in place for what they will do afterwards.

“Unless the building is listed or protected, it is difficult to stop it.”

Cllr McGerty said he would be speaking to residents to gauge reaction to the proposed demolition.

Dan Greef, who campaigned against the original demolition, said: “That is the battle we face today in Cambridge. Government has given so much power away from local authorities to developers. Community strength is our last line of defence.”

Community activist Chris Rand said: “It looks like ‘demolish first, worry about what we’ll be able to build later’ is going to be the new norm in Cambridge.

“The development proposed for 291 Hills Road may have been rejected, but the developers are applying to demolish the house anyway, regardless of local feeling.”

This is not the only house in the area at risk of demolition. Nearby, residents held a street celebration on Sunday (May 13) in the hopes of saving an historic Cambridge home at 292 Hills Road.

Campaigners say the house was built in 1924 for Cyril Ridgeon, founder of builders’ merchants Ridgeons.



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