Public spaces and art gallery included in plans for major redesign of Pembroke College
Public spaces, a gallery and new student accommodation are proposed in a major expansion and redesign of Pembroke College in Cambridge.
The plans for the Old Press site form part of an extensive change for this historic part of the city, with major alterations lined up for the surrounding Mill Lane area.
An application submitted to Cambridge City Council earmarks a 1930s lecture block in Mill Lane for demolition, so that a large new student accommodation block can be built.
The 92-room residential Dolby Court – named after Ray and Dagmar Dolby, following a gift from the sound pioneer's family – would feature three new buildings. The three-sided court opening up onto Stuart House, built in 1925 as a library and administrative space. It would become a social hub featuring common rooms, a reading room and café.
Miller’s Yard, once home to an enclosed courtyard with restaurants but empty since 2014, would be retained under the plans, but one of the arches onto Mill Lane would become a glazed entrance to the student accommodation court behind.
A new pedestrian crossing would be created outside the existing entrance to Pembroke College in Trumpington Street.
And there would be a new gatehouse, replacing 75 Trumpington Street, opposite the old college. This would contain a reception area, porter's lodge and a public art gallery and lead through to Kenmare Garden – one of a series of open public spaces leading down towards the river.
The college would convert the Emmanuel United Reformed Church, on Trumpington Street, into a lecture and performance space, after the congregation moves to its new home at St Columba’s Church in 2020.
According to a design access statement submitted with the plans by Haworth Tompkins architects, the new development would be “nothing less than a second foundation” for Pembroke College.
The statement says the new layout and buildings would “create a new residential court and restore and inhabit a number of historically significant buildings facing the existing college, linked by new open spaces that continue and extend the language of Pembroke’s distinctive gardens.”
But the new plans have sparked some questions, with a call for more clarity on the traffic arrangements around the newly laid-out city quarter.
On behalf of Cambridgeshire Highways, Dr Jon Finney requested that the application be refused on the grounds of highway safety. A safety audit should be undertaken and any problems resolved, he said.
“Within the transport statement the proposed crossing is referred to as a ‘courtesy’ crossing and a zebra crossing,” Dr Finney said. “The applicant must make it explicitly clear what type of crossing is being proposed.
“If the crossing is to be a courtesy crossing the proposed design is confusing and potentially hazardous as from the perspective of a pedestrian it will look like a formal zebra crossing and yet from the perspective of a vehicle user - both motorised and non-motorised - there is no suggestion that they should automatically give way to a pedestrian crossing the carriageway."
Andrew Martindale, an inspector for Historic England, said while some buildings would be lost because of the scheme, the improvements it would make to the area provide “justification” for their removal.
Mr Martindale also notes that the inclusion of the former United Reformed Church in the scheme “gives an opportunity for considerable public benefits”.
The University of Cambridge has been working with Darwin, Pembroke and Queens’ Colleges since 2014 to develop a masterplan to regenerate this area of the city.
According to a masterplan for the scheme, the aim is to make it into a thriving new “gateway” to Cambridge. The project could cost up to £35million.
A public consultation on the Pembroke plans was held last October.
More by this authorJosh Thomas, Local Democracy Reporter