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How could the area around The Grafton in Cambridge be improved?

By Ben Comber

Grafton Area Masterplan
Grafton Area Masterplan

A long-term regeneration project is aiming to improve the streets around The Grafton centre, creating an area which people want to visit in the evenings.

Grafton Area Masterplan
Grafton Area Masterplan

The Grafton area masterplan reveals what the area could become, and describes efforts to initiate ‘a step change in the quality of the area’.

Events are being held so that residents can contribute to the masterplan.

It says: “This will establish the first steps towards the long-term regeneration of the area with a broader, more diverse mix of uses, an improved evening offer and greater emphasis on better spaces for people, and improved streets which feel safe, and re-connect the area with the wider neighbourhood.”

Cllr Tim Bick said the shopping centre was not well received by many residents when it was first built, and it is time to integrate it with the neighbourhood.

Grafton Area Masterplan
Grafton Area Masterplan

He said: “Residents have said it has been something like an alien spaceship which has landed in the middle of a residential area.

“This exercise is probably one of the first comprehensive attempts to address that.

“It’s a positive project and there are things that I don’t totally agree with but it’s right that people get to have a say now.”

The plan goes over three key objectives – making it easier to travel to and around the area, making the area a more appealing destination, and making sure construction does not negatively impact the area.

Specific opportunities identified include an improved pedestrian route with a wider pavement to ‘green the corridor’ along East Road.

It also suggests the Grafton area will be a primary location for new retail space that will be demanded as the population in the city increases.

A study suggests up to 12,000 sq m of new floorspace could be provided in the area for retail, food and nightlife, and that early development could deliver a significant amount of new retail floorspace on Fitzroy Street, Burleigh Street and East Road.

It also suggests hotels could make use of additional space that is found or created in the short to medium term.

A six week consultation to gather public views is now underway, and will continue until November 6. Two public exhibitions at The Grafton (outside H&M) are scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 30, from 11am until 3pm; and Wednesday, November 1, from 2pm until 8pm.

More information on the plans can be found online at cambridge.gov.uk/grafton-area-of-major-change-masterplan-and-guidance-spd.


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