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Cambridge City Council

Plans submitted for new local centre and affordable homes in East Barnwell

7 December 2023

The Cambridge Investment Partnership (CIP) has submitted plans to revitalise two sites in the centre of East Barnwell in the Abbey ward to provide new community facilities and 120 affordable homes.

CIP’s proposals will create a thriving and active community centre to support those living and working in the area. Plans also include a new library and preschool facilities, public open spaces, new commercial premises, and high-quality, sustainable affordable homes.

Cllr Gerri Bird, Executive Councillor for Housing and Homelessness at Cambridge City Council, and a CIP board member said, “We are delighted to submit these plans, which will bring forward long-awaited new community facilities and modern, sustainable housing for the East Barnwell community as well as opportunities for businesses and employment.

“With the acute need for more affordable housing across the city, the proposed development will also provide additional social rented and intermediate rent homes, which will be available for those unable to afford market rents in Cambridge.”

The sites are currently home to the Abbey Bowls Club and the local centre on Barnwell Road, which comprises shops, apartments, and a public library. The Bowls Club will be relocated to the Abbey Leisure Complex with the creation of a new green and pavilion, along with an expanded multi-use games area.

The proposals will replace 18 existing ageing flats with 48 social rented and 72 intermediate rent homes, with four of the new homes designed for people with disabilities. The sustainable gas-free properties will comprise a mixture of one, two, and three-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom maisonettes, with emphasis placed on reducing carbon emissions, energy bills, and annual maintenance costs.

Tom Hill, Managing Director at The Hill Group, said, “We are delighted to be submitting this planning application which has been formed through extensive engagement with planning officers and consultation with the local community to progress proposals that will create a more liveable, accessible, and sustainable neighbourhood for local people and visitors.”

The community centre will feature a new hall that leads to a garden at the east of the development, and also has three adaptable meeting rooms which can be divided or combined as required.

Once completed, the library and pre-school will be leased to Cambridgeshire County Council, with the council leasing the pre-school to an operator. Cambridge City Council will retain ownership of the community centre as part of its strategic approach to support communities.

The development will deliver a 20% biodiversity net gain through a carefully considered landscaping design with tree-lined streets with biodiverse planting, a new public community square, and generous open space and retention of existing trees and hedgerows where possible. Enhanced pedestrian and cycle routes through the development will encourage sustainable commuting, and all flat roofs will feature green roofs for effective rainwater management.

A third site in the centre of East Barnwell proposed for market sale homes will be brought forward by CIP as a separate application once the existing community centre moves to its new premises. This will generate funds to support the overall project. 

For further information about the Cambridge Investment Partnership, please visit