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Number of flats planned for Romsey Labour Club site in Cambridge could rise

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A fresh application has been made to build more serviced apartments in the historic Romsey Labour Club as the current set of permissions is due to run out this year.

In April 2019, the city council approved the building of 36 serviced apartments on the site off Mill Road but that planning permission will expire in April. Now the developer has reapplied for planning permission and wants to increase the number of apartments to 44.

Cllr Dinah Pounds outside the former Romsey Labour Club. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cllr Dinah Pounds outside the former Romsey Labour Club. Picture: Keith Heppell

But local objections raised against the development include that it is too big and will have no parking spaces, forcing apartment residents’ cars onto neighbouring streets.

City councillor Dinah Pounds (Lab, Romsey) said she had “concerns” about the application: “The plot is not large enough for the proposed number of dwellings and would result in over-intensification and it is out of character with its surroundings which form part of Romsey’s conservation area.

“There does not seem to be adequate green space included in the plans for residents and, environmentally, it is undesirable for people’s health to locate homes on a busy junction where the building line is very close to the roads.

“Ideally, it would be much better if the building was refurbished and given over to community use.”

Community historian Antony Carpen echoed her comments.

He said: “Ideally, I would like to see it purchased by the city council and turned into a community venue.

“My main criticism is the lack of parking provided and the fact that the Greater Cambridge Partnership has stated it intends to bring in a city-wide system of parking controls in partnership with the county council and the city council. So if they bring in those controls, which will be for residents only, there will be no off-street parking. Therefore they cannot rely on off-street parking, as stated in their intention.”

The application to the city council is for the part-demolition of the existing Romsey Labour Club building – designated a Building of Local Interest – with retention of the historic frontage.

The developer wants to build 44 serviced apartments, up from 36 in the last application, along with a cafe, gymnasium and community space.

However, heritage group Cambridge Past, Present and Future has raised concerns that the whole building is of historic interest, not just the facade, and that the demolition of the club would lead to “visual harm” to the street scene.

It also adds that the cafe in the development lacks a kitchen or storage space and it is “unclear how it is supposed to function”.

The developer’s agent, Carter Jonas, was contacted for comment.

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