Skip To Main Content

Cambridge City Council

Help shape the future of Abbey ward

22 February 2024

Residents, community groups and businesses invited to meet to help shape the future of Abbey ward

Residents and community group and business representatives are being invited to come together to discuss the range of exciting projects and developments proposed for Abbey ward in the coming years, and opportunities to work differently with the community to address local priorities.

The initial meeting, on 13 March from 5.45 to 7.30pm at Christ The Redeemer Church, will give people the chance to hear about progress being made on major redevelopment projects and other exciting plans starting to take shape in the area, and to contribute to how continued conversations with those in the ward will happen.

Up to £100 million could be invested in Abbey in the years ahead to create new jobs and new homes, support the local economy and improve the lives of residents.

East Barnwell

Work will get under way this year on the transformative East Barnwell project to create a vibrant new centre at the heart of Abbey ward, starting with the two sites on either side of Barnwell Road, which will feature:

  • 120 much-needed high-quality, modern, sustainable new council homes – built to Passivhaus standards (these are buildings created to rigorous energy efficient design standards that maintain an almost constant temperature), gas-free and with water-saving measures to help reduce water consumption
  • New community facilities for all, including a community centre and library, pre-school, and public open spaces
  • Modern commercial units to replace ageing Barnwell Road shops – with the council working with commercial tenants to ensure continuity of services during development
  • New green spaces, landscaping and planting, retaining existing trees and hedgerows wherever possible, that will help to increase flora and fauna. A biodiversity net gain of 20% is planned. (Biodiversity net gain is an approach to development that makes sure that habitats for wildlife are left in a measurably better state than they were before development)
  • New sports and play facilities nearby to replace the existing Abbey Bowls Club and public tennis court.

Ekin Road estate

Another significant proposal is being considered at the nearby Ekin Road estate, where the city council has appointed JLL, an independent consultant, to review options on potential refurbishment or redevelopment, to ensure homes there are modern, sustainable and comfortable places to live with much greater energy efficiency. The city council will be publishing a report by JLL next week to set out some options, after which the council will consult with residents on any next steps in March.

No decisions have yet been made, but the site is being considered for possible redevelopment as part of the council's wider plans to improve the standards in existing council homes and to build additional council homes to meet local need across Cambridge. Some of the council's older council homes on sites like Ekin Road are in desperate need of repair, and the council has to balance financial viability with the benefits refurbishment or redevelopment may bring.

As well as these two major council-led projects, significant additional investment is being planned for Abbey in the coming years, both from the council and from other key stakeholders in the ward.  

UK Shared Prosperity Fund, council grants and other initiatives

Through the government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund £282,000 has been allocated to a project called ‘Focus On Abbey’. This is bringing together people from the community, voluntary, charitable, public and private sectors to support community led projects aimed at empowering local people to improve quality of life in the area.  

By working collaboratively, investment has been secured to provide additional support to the residents of Abbey who have been unable to work due to long term health conditions. Other community led projects being developed with partners include one for local parents to help ensure their children get a fair chance in their education and future careers, and another one building a business model to support the work being done across the ward to give people better access to healthy, affordable food that is sustainably produced.

The council’s Community Grants Fund is continuing to help fund a number of projects in the ward, including a food hub, a junior youth club for 8-13 year olds, networking events and farming sessions for members of the community at the nearby Cambridge Co Farm.

Abbey Leisure Complex

Meanwhile, the Abbey Leisure Complex has seen government investment of around £700,000 in decarbonisation projects at the pool, along with investment of S106 developer contributions totalling £265,000 in the new water slide and outdoor fitness equipment.

A joint partnership with the Football Foundation will see £800,000 invested later in the year for the redevelopment of the artificial pitch at Abbey Leisure to a new 3G rubber crumb pitch, bringing the total investment in sports and leisure in Abbey ward to £1.75million.

Cllr Mike Davey, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “There are some really exciting changes in the pipeline for the Abbey area over the coming months and years. Our aim is to ensure that everyone in the community benefits from them, and that no one is left behind.

“Abbey is a vibrant part of our city, with a real sense of community. Along with our many partners, who are involved in a huge range of projects focused on Abbey ward, we share a vision for it becoming an even better, fairer, healthier place to live in the years ahead.

“To do that we need to have regular, meaningful dialogue with the many different groups – residents, sports and leisure clubs, faith groups, businesses, schools and more – who make up the community here.

“We think that a more frequent way of engaging with everyone will be a great way to keep those conversations going and to help Abbey residents have a real say in the future of the place they call home. So, we’re inviting everyone to attend the first public meeting on 13 March and look forward to seeing people there.”

Address for the open meeting on 13 March: Christ The Redeemer Church, Newmarket Road, Cambridge, CB5 8RS.