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Hopes of return for Jenny Wren pub in Cambridge dealt a blow





The return of The Jenny Wren pub in Cambridge is in doubt after a protection measure put in place by councillors was removed.

The Campkin Road pub closed in 2017 and was demolished in 2019 under plans that included a rebuild.

The former Jenny Wren site, in February 2024. Picture: Hannah Brown, Local Democracy Reporter
The former Jenny Wren site, in February 2024. Picture: Hannah Brown, Local Democracy Reporter

New plans then came forward for nine flats, alongside a ground floor space that could be used as a pub or for something else.

When Cambridge City Council approved that application in June 2022 councillors insisted on a condition that a manager’s flat would be included in the marketing of the pub.

They also said the ground floor space should be marketed as a pub for a minimum of 12 months to try and find someone to run it, before it could be used for anything else.

However, the council has agreed that this requirement – condition 31 – can be dropped after the developer argued it was making the scheme “unviable”.

The Jenny Wren in 2015
The Jenny Wren in 2015

The application to remove the condition was submitted by Heddon Management Ltd.

Planning documents state: “Following the granting of planning permission in July 2022, the site has been marketed by Bidwells for a 12-month period.

“A marketing report prepared by Bidwells concludes that condition 31 is making the scheme unviable and as a result the development opportunity is unattractive to potential purchasers.

A CGI of how the new pub could have looked
A CGI of how the new pub could have looked

“Bidwells do not believe that it will be possible to dispose of the site while condition 31 remains attached to the planning permission and as a result the consented scheme is unlikely to be delivered.”

The documents said there was “sufficient evidence” to show there was “no demand for a public house use at this location”.

However, it added that the “flexible use” on the ground floor would mean it could be used as a pub “should the demand exist”.

The Cambridge and District branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) opposed the removal of the condition, saying it closed at short notice in 2017 “much to the annoyance of the local community”.

The former Jenny Wren site, in February 2024. Picture: Hannah Brown, Local Democracy Reporter
The former Jenny Wren site, in February 2024. Picture: Hannah Brown, Local Democracy Reporter

CAMRA said planning applications that followed the demolition had drawn out the time it was taking to redevelop the site, which it argued reduced the chance of the pub returning.

“This new application is yet another attempt by developers to avoid having to replace the pub that was removed from the local community when it was closed and subsequently demolished,” said CAMRA.

“This application requests the removal of condition 31 from [the] planning permission.

“Condition 31 requires that, once completed, the ground floor unit and associated first floor flat be solely marketed as a pub for a minimum of 12 months.

“It seems clear that this condition was inserted by the planning committee to ensure its compliance with its duty under the National Planning Policy Framework to guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities, in this case a pub, and to comply with its own local plan.

“We believe that it was sensible of the planning authority to have inserted condition 31 and we believe that this application to have it removed should be refused.”

A planning officer’s report published by the city council recognised the condition was imposed to “truly safeguard and prioritise the public house”.

The former Jenny Wren site, in February 2024. Picture: Hannah Brown, Local Democracy Reporter
The former Jenny Wren site, in February 2024. Picture: Hannah Brown, Local Democracy Reporter

However, the officer said the information provided by the applicant showed it was “clear that the requirement to satisfy this condition is preventing development”.

The report said: “This site has been vacant since 2017 and the building demolished in spring 2019, almost five years ago.

“The original consent still allows flexibility that if there were interest from a publican, this could be delivered on site or for the unit to be used as a local commercial use which would support the surrounding community and strengthen the vitality and vibrancy of the neighbourhood centre.

“Taking these factors into account alongside the marketing evidence submitted as part of both this S73 application and the original two [full] applications, officers consider that reasonable efforts have been made to preserve the pub facility, with the option of it returning if demand allows, and community facilities could still be delivered on site to the benefit of the surrounding occupiers.”

The council granted permission for condition 31 to be removed from the planning permission for the redevelopment of the site.

The developer has until July 27, 2025 to begin work on the redevelopment under the existing planning approval.



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