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Urban country park off Coldhams Lane in Cambridge ‘could open before R&D site’ say developers





A new “urban country park” would open in Cambridge before a proposed science development beside it is completed, developers have promised.

Plans are being progressed to open up two lakes between Romsey and Cherry Hinton to the public.

The Coldhams Lane lakes. Picture: Google
The Coldhams Lane lakes. Picture: Google

The country park would be created beside a new research and development site on the former landfill site off Coldhams Lane under plans submitted to Cambridge City Council.

Developer Mission Street briefed councillors on Monday (8 July).

Stewart Kain, development director, described the country park as one of the “most exciting parts” of the plans. It would be split into two areas.

The first – Parcel B – would be ecologically protected, with new habitats created and public access limited.

The second – Parcel C – includes the lakes and would be open to the public.

The developer told the council: “Significant new areas of public open space will be opened for recreation and the enjoyment of local residents. Areas for groups with a special interest in ecology will be subject to access control, for the benefit of wildlife and ecology.”

How the Coldhams Lane science park could look. Picture: Mission Street
How the Coldhams Lane science park could look. Picture: Mission Street

Mark Pratchett, managing director at Community Stewardship Solutions, has been working with the developers on a plan to manage the park in the long term.

He told councillors it was estimated it would cost around £37,800 a year to run and maintain once open and proposed a new trust - a charitable body with input from stakeholders and the community - to look after the park.

He proposed a two-year pilot during which the developers would assess if the expected matched reality.

Cllr Dave Baigent (Lab, Romsey) said he had been involved in trying to open the lakes up to the public for 10 years and noted there were some concerns from people living in the area about how their lives could be impacted if lots of people began to regularly visit the lakes.

Stewart Kain, from Mission Street. Picture: Keith Heppell
Stewart Kain, from Mission Street. Picture: Keith Heppell

But the representatives said they were aiming for it to be a “passive country park”, where there was not an attraction at specific times for lots of people to turn up at once.

Cllr Baigent asked about the plan for people swimming in the lakes.

Mr Kain said that would not be encouraged initially, although that could change.

Cllr Mark Ashton noted the plans to open up the site had been “going on for so many years” and asked about the timeframe, highlighting that there was a “major concern” around anti-social behaviour caused by people breaking into the land at the moment.

Mr Kain said once planning permission was secured, work would start on the country park as soon as possible and he expected it to open before the first R&D buildings were completed.

How The Mixer building could look on the proposed Coldhams Lane science park. Picture: Mission Street
How The Mixer building could look on the proposed Coldhams Lane science park. Picture: Mission Street

New fencing has been installed and reinforced security along the boundary to help reduce the anti-social behaviour, he noted.

Cllr Naomi Bennett suggested solar-powered CCTV could be installed around the park once it was open.

Planning officers expect the application to come before the planning committee in September.

Mission Street has previously said it expected an estimate 3,865 employees could work in state-of-the-art R&D buildings on site, and it intends to demand that at least the Cambridge living wage - which is higher than the national minimum wage - would be paid to them,

The centre of the site will be called The Mixer, and feature public community spaces including a flexible events space, fitness and wellbeing spaces, a cafe and lookout with a large roof terrace overlooking the lakes to the south. Play areas and a travel hub are also proposed.



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