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Revised Meadows homes plan in Cambridge ‘still strips area’s soul’

Campaigners who opposed a plan to build houses on a recreation ground have said the character of the area would be ‘decimated’ after seeing revised proposals for the site.

Council planners went back to the drawing board earlier this year when city residents near St Albans Road recreation ground complained too much green space would be lost if the building of 106 new council homes went ahead.

An aerial illustration of the site (18208266)
An aerial illustration of the site (18208266)

Councillors have stressed the need for more affordable housing in the city and that these apartments would be rented as council homes.

But at a presentation of the new plans on Tuesday (October 1), which aimed to remove less green space than the first proposal, some residents were still unhappy.

Campaigner Lucy Seymour, a member of the Friends of St Albans Road Rec, said: “One of the buildings is six storeys high – it will be the tallest building in the area and they have others that are three and four storeys.

“It’s going to make the place feel enclosed. It will take away the skyline and it’s too heavy and overbearing for this area. There will be too many more people and the feel and the character of the place will be decimated.

View from the park (18208284)
View from the park (18208284)

“At the moment the rec is not enclosed – you can see the sky, the sunset, the moon and you can see trees. And that is so important for the soul.

“We’re concerned, once they start building here, they won't stop and they will take a bit more land in a few years' time. The population is growing, but at what point do you turn around and say this is actually a vital part of the community that is very good for people’s wellbeing. Why can’t we just leave it rather than stripping the soul from a community, the beautiful little bit of space we have, in an area where some people can’t even afford to go on holiday?”

Cambridge Investment Partnership – the joint venture between the city council and Hill Investment Partnerships – is consulting on its revised proposals for developing the sites at The Meadows and Buchan Street. These would include a new community centre to replace the existing centre at The Meadows and Buchan Street Neighbourhood Centre. It would also include the building of 106 apartments.

View of the Buchan development (18208274)
View of the Buchan development (18208274)

Following feedback from the public, the planners reduced the amount of green space that would be built on. They also proposed new play equipment, sports pitches and dog walking routes.

Cllr Richard Johnson, executive councillor for housing, said: “Building new council homes to address the severe housing shortage in Cambridge remains an overriding priority for the council. However, we recognise the importance of retaining and enhancing our open spaces.”

View from the park (18208298)
View from the park (18208298)

He added: “We feel these revised plans will lead to a fantastic new community centre for residents, much needed new homes for people as well as an improved more usable and more attractive open space at St Albans Road Recreation Ground.”

A consultation about the plans runs until October 25. Submit comments by email to meadows@ip-cambridge.co.uk. A consultation event is on Friday (October 4), 2pm-4pm, at the Buchan Street Neighbourhood Centre.

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