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Science building for Milton Road in Cambridge ‘would look like an angry hippo’ says councillor

A councillor described a proposed new Cambridge science building as looking like an “angry hippo” as the developer was asked to rework its plans.

Councillors from Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council deferred their decision on plans to demolish and redevelop an office building in Milton Road.

How Kadans Science Partner's building in Milton Road, Cambridge would look. Picture: Kadans Science Partner
How Kadans Science Partner's building in Milton Road, Cambridge would look. Picture: Kadans Science Partner

The replacement building would provide office and laboratory space, for which the developer stressed there was “strong demand” in the city, would have 45 car parking and 313 cycle parking spaces.

A cafe was also proposed for employees and the public to use.

At a joint development control committee this week (October 18), a representative of the applicant, Kadans Science Partner 9 Limited - which develops and operates science spaces - said the proposals represented part of the company’s “long-term commitment to Cambridge”.

The representative said: “Tenants for these buildings need quality design and the building sets the bar for further developments in the area.

“The scheme provides job creation. When this building is fully occupied this building will provide up to 800 jobs of which 40 per cent are expected to be less than degree qualified, giving opportunities to all areas of the community.

“During construction we estimate that this will employ 200 jobs and a preferred contractor is committed to support local communities and colleges.

“The community benefits for the scheme is to provide a new community cafe for both the employees and the community to enjoy.”

The proposed building would sit within North East Cambridge, where the councils hope to create jobs and build thousands of new homes and have developed an ‘area action plan’ to drive their vision.

District councillor Dr Tumi Hawkins (Lib Dem, Caldecote) said the developer had been “picky” about what areas of the plan to follow and said plans were “sticking two fingers up at the city and South Cambs”.

She said: “The proposals have been selective with responding to the area action plan. I note it has been given little weight, but that concerns me because that is the vision that both councils have for that area.

“When you look at the plan this section is supposed to be residential; this is now proposed for commercial office use.”

Officers explained that while the area action plan had been signed off by both councils, the process had been paused in order to wait for the outcome of Anglian Water’s application to relocate the Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Works into the green belt at Honey Hill.

They said that until that process had concluded they were only able to give “limited weight” to the plan.

Cllr Katie Porrer (Lib Dem, Market) thought the building looked like an “angry hippo”. She described the layout as “all backwards”, explaining that the “natural entrance” to the site for people to arrive on foot or bicycle was proposed to be the only car entrance.

Cllr Katie Thornburrow (Lab, Petersfield) was concerned about the lack of external space proposed for employees to be able to use within the development.

Concerns were also raised about the number of trees proposed to be cut down under the plans.

Cllr Anna Bradnam (Lib, Milton and Waterbeach) asked for the developer to consider looking again at the plans to see if it was possible to keep more of the trees and hedges that are currently there.

A suggestion was made to defer making a decision on the application in order to ask the developer to look at making potential changes to the plans to address some of the councillor concerns.

When this was put to a vote a majority of councillors agreed to defer the application.

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