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TWI redevelopment approved on Granta Park despite concern over height of buildings

The redevelopment of laboratory buildings at Granta Park has been approved, despite councillors’ concerns about the impact of the tall new buildings in a rural area.

Research and technology organisation TWI will demolish four buildings, replacing them with four new ones, while refurbishing five others to improve their sustainability.

Illustrative masterplan of TWI Campus at Granta Park. Image: TWI
Illustrative masterplan of TWI Campus at Granta Park. Image: TWI

Justin Bainton, a representative of TWI, told South Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee last Thursday (October 11): “The campus features a number of buildings that are outdated, inefficient and no longer fit for purpose.

“This outline application will enable TWI to repurpose and redevelop the estate to meet their changing requirements, to provide new lab and science accommodation to which there is significant need, together with providing a platform to meet their ambitious sustainability agenda with the wider aim of being carbon neutral by 2035.

“Fundamentally, TWI cannot afford to carry inefficient dead space which will fundamentally compromise the efficiency of their operations and ultimately the sustainability of their business.”

But Great Abington Parish Council and Little Abington Parish Council raised concerns.

Cllr Tony Orgee, chairman of Great Abington Parish Council, said the new buildings needed to take into account the rural location, noting the proposed five-storey building would be the tallest on Granta Park site at 26.5 metres high.

He also voiced concern about the need to cut down some of the mature trees for the redevelopment.

Cllr Heather Williams, the leader of the Conservative opposition on the district council, said the redevelopment was needed to create improved laboratory space and more environmentally-friendly buildings.

But she did not think the proposals created the right balance given the impact on the local area of the larger buildings.

Cllr Williams (Con, The Mordens) said: “For me I feel there is still work to be done here to make sure we have got the best out of this.”

Cllr Anna Bradnam (Lib Dem, Milton and Waterbeach) recognised the new buildings would be “prominent”, but said the ground where they would sit dips “quite significantly”.

And she felt the modernised buildings would improve the impact on the neighbouring heritage buildings.

She suggested TWI could set aside land elsewhere where new trees could be planted and would not be disturbed in the future.

Cllr Peter Fane (Lib Dem, Shelford) did not think the impact on the surrounding area was sufficient to justify refusing the application.

Eight councillors voted to approve the application, with one voting against.

Further detailed plans will still need to be submitted and approved by the council.

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