Cambridge University and City Council to collaborate on student housing scheme

16 July 2012

A current initiative between Cambridge University and Cambridge city council shows plans to create a new community centre in Cambridgeshire.

The plans are for a 3000 home scheme, with planning permission already underway for plots between Huntington Road and Madingley Road. The university and the council also foresee the establishment of a non-profit organisation which will manage the community centre and the land surrounding it.

The site in north-west Cambridgeshire will include up to 2000 student units, which have been applied for by the university.

Tim Bick, head of the city council, sees the strength of the project lying in the collaborative effort between council and university, referring to the project as “a historic innovation in partnership between two of the city’s oldest institutions.”

Speaking on behalf of the university project team, Paul Barnes heralded the objectives of the university to lie “in the long term”. He revealed community facilities and better transport to be among the priorities, adding, “it’s really important that the people living there feel it’s a good, strong, thriving community and want to come and live and work in Cambridge.”

Daniel Bartholomew, a 2nd year English student and Access Officer at Fitzwilliam College, speaks positively of the prospect: “I think that an attempt at integrating the students and the local community can only be a positive thing provided it is managed correctly. The university and the students dominate for most of the year, so to be able to give back and to show gratitude to the local community is very encouraging.”

Also backing the initiative is Duncan Maud, a 2ndyear MML student at John’s. “It is becoming increasingly difficult for students to rent privately as prices continue to rise, and so it’s refreshing to see the City Council taking steps towards alleviating the financial pressures upon students.”

Graham Andrews, an MPhil student in Classics at St Edmund’s and self-confessed ‘disillusioned northerner,’ remained cynical however. “It seems ridiculous spending money on building projects when they’ve got less to spend on academia”, he said. “If they want to invest in the community, why are they building student accommodation?”

As well as the 2000 student homes and a community centre, Cambridge University also proposes to build a hotel. As reported by The Cambridge Student in June, the Cambridge Union Society also intends to create a boutique hotel as part of their 200th Anniversary Campaign.

A decision will be reached on the 8th August as to whether the initiative is to go ahead.

Ben Dalton – News Reporter

Photo: Jimmy Appleton