Cambridge accommodation gets go ahead

Designs for student accommodation at the North West Cambridge Development have been approved by local planning authorities

Designed by the Cambridge-based architectural firm, RH Partnership, the student accommodation buildings for up to 325 post-graduates have been inspired by the traditional collegiate architecture in Cambridge. The proposals include accommodation within three open-sided courts of individual character and a series of three- to five-storey buildings that will define the strong street frontages.

Roger Taylor, project director of the North West Cambridge Development, said: ‘The designs for the post-graduate student accommodation naturally reflect the architectural language of the city and Cambridge colleges, whilst working to achieve high levels of sustainability and creating a great place for future students to live.  These are the first buildings in Phase One that have received planning approval and they reflect the characteristics of the masterplan, which is to create a new, cohesive urban extension to Cambridge.”

Andrew Drummond, project associate from RH Partnership, explained: “The last 18 months has seen an exciting and often challenging collaboration between the architectural, masterplanning and technical teams, working closely together to create an elegant extension to our city. The traditional sequence and hierarchy of spaces within existing collegiate sites in Cambridge was the inspiration for the series of courts and landscaped garden spaces within our proposals, which creates clusters of post-graduate rooms forming varying sizes of houses. The proposal uses a simple palette of materials which draws on the underlying grain and character of Cambridge architecture.”

Phase one of the development will include 325 post-graduate student bedspaces of the 2,000 that was agreed as part of the outline planning permission in February 2013.  This accommodation will enable new communities to be formed at a scale similar to the central college sites and is vital to meet the University’s need for growth of the post-graduate population. The design incorporates high levels of cycle parking to enable students and others to travel sustainably, as well as sensitive landscaping and pathways to nurture a strong sense of connectivity, and will meet the BREEAM Excellent standard.

The Joint Development Control Committee granted planning consent for the Reserved Matters Application for Lot 5 of the North West Cambridge Development on 18 December 2013.  The subsequent Reserved Matters Applications for the remainder of Phase One of the North West Cambridge Development will continue to be determined throughout 2014. Works on infrastructure will take place in 2014 and phased completions will begin from 2015.

The North West Cambridge Development is the most significant capital project that the University of Cambridge has undertaken in its 800-year history. Outline planning permission was granted in February 2013 for the scheme, subject to approval of site-wide legal conditions and Reserved Matters Applications, on the 150-hectare site of University farmland situated in between Huntingdon Road, Madingley Road and the M11.

The masterplan includes 3,000 homes (50% ‘key-worker’ housing, available for qualifying University and Colleges employees), 2,000 student spaces, 100,000sqm of research space, a local centre and community facilities including a primary school, nursery, doctors’ surgery, supermarket and retail units, as well as all of the site-infrastructure and landscaping for the scheme. The development has been designed as an extension to the city, with an urban rather than suburban grain and will be of the highest design quality as well as being an exemplar of sustainable living.

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