St John’s College wins approval for 245 rooms in Cambridge for students, staff and fellows
St John’s College has finally been granted permission to build 39 townhouses, with 245 rooms, after concerns over who will use the rooms out of term time were allayed.
The homes for students and academic staff will be built on land off Wilberforce Road and feature communal living space and kitchen areas, while the bedrooms will have private en-suite bathrooms.
In its application, the University of Cambridge college said it is facing increasing demands for accommodation, not just from students but from staff and fellows, with the latter finding it hard to get on the housing ladder in the city.
The college said it wanted to provide accommodation for a few years while the “find their feet in the Cambridge housing market”.
Councillors on the city council’s planning committee deferred their decision in January for more information on the balance of occupants and use out of term time, which had raised questions over traffic - particularly if they were to be rented out for commercial events and conferences.
At their meeting yesterday (February 2), they learned that a condition had been agreed by the college that a maximum of 32 rooms – eight of the four-bedroom homes – would be occupied by academic staff, leaving a minimum of 213 rooms for students.
And the college has clarified that tenancies for postgraduates are for a minimum of 11 months, while for undergraduates the minimum tenancy is 38 weeks.
A St John’s representative told councillors rooms would potentially be rented out only in the summer holiday months, providing an important income opportunity for colleges.
Cllr Katie Thornburrow (Lab, Petersfield) said: “This is a really exciting scheme. I’m really pleased that the issues of use outside student term times has been clarified and it’s clear in the integrated Section 106.”
Cllr Katie Porrer (Lib Dem, Market) asked that in future an application like this one be submitted as a student and mixed use development rather than just a student accommodation application, which would have prevented the need for deferment.
She was also concerned about setting a precedent for applications. Council officers agreed to look into this outside of the meeting.
The committee voted unanimously to approve the plans.