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Cambridge City Council

Councillors approve transformational plans for new homes and community facilities at East Barnwell

22 November 2023

Proposals for the creation of a transformative new local centre in the East Barnwell area of Abbey ward in Cambridge have been approved by Cambridge City Council.

The East Barnwell regeneration project, which the city council is delivering with Cambridgeshire County Council, will ultimately see a range of new facilities and homes across three sites near the Newmarket Road and Barnwell Road roundabout which are currently owned by the two councils, subject to planning permission being granted.

At the council’s Housing Scrutiny Committee meeting yesterday (21 November) councillors unanimously approved plans for Site 1 and Site 2 (the corners of Barnwell Road immediately south of Newmarket Road – see plan below), to include:

  • 120 new, high-quality sustainable homes
  • A new community centre
  • A new public library
  • A pre-school facility
  • Commercial premises
  • New public open spaces

The new homes on Sites 1 and 2 are all intended to be council homes, with two rental rates to include full social rent and an intermediate rent (ie lower than the average market rental rate for Cambridge), and will replace 18 ageing flats currently on the site. The new homes will comprise one-, two- and three-bedroom flats and maisonettes.

Designs for the new housing will aim to deliver sustainability levels as close as possible to Passivhaus standards, and the whole development will be gas-free with all flat roofs being green roofs. The development will be accompanied by improvements to pedestrian and cycle routes in the area and new landscaping to encourage biodiversity.

The new community centre and library on the western corner of Barnwell Road and Newmarket Road will feature new public open space accessible to all, on what is currently private land, plus one commercial unit which could become a café. Over the road, there will be additional public open spaces around the other new commercial facilities.

As part of the project, the existing Abbey Bowls Club will move to a brand new site with grass bowls green and pavilion, close to the Abbey Leisure Complex nearby. The existing tennis court and multi-use games area will be incorporated into expanded public facilities, also at Abbey Leisure.

Detailed planning applications for the first two sites at East Barnwell will now be submitted by Cambridge Investment Partnership, the joint venture between Cambridge City Council and housebuilders Hill, which has successfully built hundreds of new homes and community facilities in Cambridge over recent years. If planning is approved, construction would then start on site in 2024.

Cllr Gerri Bird, Executive Councillor for Housing and Homelessness at Cambridge City Council, said: “This is a significant milestone and the culmination of lots of work with local residents to develop these exciting proposals that will transform the heart of East Barnwell for the benefit of the whole community who call this part of the city home.

“We think these plans will significantly improve the quality of life for people in East Barnwell, by providing much-needed modern, sustainable housing, including four homes specifically designed for people with disabilities, plus enhanced community facilities, and new opportunities for business and employment.”

Councillor Lucy Nethsingha, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “This is an important step forward in the much-needed regeneration of East Barnwell.

“Supporting the development of this new centre is a key part of how the County Council is working with its partners to create a greener, fairer and more caring Cambridgeshire by helping to create more liveable, accessible and sustainable spaces which really work for communities.”