Urban upgrade envisaged for Cambridge

Isobel Boyson 18 October 2007

If you’re used to arriving at Cambridge Station to be greeted by endless queues of buses, cars trying their best to mow you down and cyclists fighting for parking space, things are about to change – just give it £850 million and a couple of years.

Plans for a major redevelopment of the station area have been released this week, promising to transform CB1 into a utopia of green spaces, public squares, health centres and harmonious traffic arrangements.

The huge project will also address Cambridge’s housing shortfall by incorporating 1,500 one- and two-bedroom apartments into the design, over three quarters of which have been designated for Anglia Ruskin students. Priority for the other flats will be given to key public workers, such as Addenbrookes staff.

And if that’s not enough, the 24-acre site, devised by Ashwell Property Group and architect Roger Stirk Harbour & Partners, will include a paved pedestrianised area in front of the station that will be double the size of market square, surrounded by shops, restaurants and cafés and broken up by a strip of parkland.

A radical overhaul of access to and from the station is also on the cards. Chief Exec of Ashwell, Paul Thwaites, said: “at the heart of the redesign is a focus on delivering a high quality transport interchange, which will enable people living, working or visiting the city to move between transport by bicycle, bus, train and car with ease.”

All on-street parking on Station Road will be removed, the entry route to the station will be widened and, in contrast to the heavy congestion experienced at the moment, the bus stops and taxi rank will be moved to the sides of the building to ensure a regular flow of traffic. Cyclists can also look forward to a generous 3000 spaces – six times the current number in the crowded bike park.

But earlier in the year it appeared that the scheme hung in the balance when local residents voiced concerns at the size of the project.

The developers decided in April to withdraw their appeal on the initial proposals and instead embarked on a revised scheme and consultation project to win the locals over.

The new plans, which have been on public display over the weekend, have been scaled down by 23% and a new round of discussions with residents and the City and County Councils

has begun.

Isobel Boyson