Mill Road Depot

To: Sav Patel
Cambridge City Council
Planning Services
01223 457167
Re. Planning Application Reference:17/2245/FUL
For: The erection of 184 dwellings (including 50% affordable housing), 72sqm of floor-space consisting of Use Class A1 (Shop), A2 (Financial and Professional Services), A3 (Food and Drinks) or D1 (Non-Residential Institutions) - in the alternative, basement car park (101 spaces), surface water pumping station, open space (including play area), alterations to the junction with Mill Road, together with associated external works including cycle parking and landscaping.
Application on behalf of
Cambridge Investment Partnership (CIP)
From Andy Brown,
113 Gwydir Street,
07799 457311
I have examined the Planning Statement and the Design And Access Statement and the accompanying drawings available on the Council’s planning website and wish to OBJECT to the above planning application on the following grounds:
Urban Grain
Open Space and Gardens
Community facilities and additionality
“Affordable” housing and alternative tenures.
In general, it must be noted that while the Planning Statement notes (para 2.3 and 2.4) that the Planning and Development Brief will not be adopted, along with the local plan until later this year, it was used as the basis of the consultation process and referred to in both the Planning Statement and the Design And Access Statement. My objections are based on the failure of the proposals to meet the Brief
The CIP proposals are an overdevelopment of the site.
a) The Brief states that the site is suitable for 167 dwellings at a density of 62 dph. The current CIP proposal has increased the number of homes to 184, on a reduced site of only 2.145 Ha, a density of 86dph.
On this calculation, the CIP proposals exceed the Brief by over 38%
b) The figure of 62dph reflects the density of the local area. The brief also states that St.Mattews is poorly supplied with open space and the Depot Site should be used to provide addition open space for the community. In fact the proposals also include 0.6 Ha of open space. The actual development space for housing is only 1.55 Ha. At 62 houses per hectare the total number of dwellings should be no more than 96.
With 167 dwellings in 1.55, Ha the proposal exceed the Brief by 74%
2. Urban Grain
The Brief says that the development should reflect the local context and that building heights should be compatible with the local surroundings. It is clear that the layout of the CIP proposals bears no relation to the surrounding neighbourhood. In particular:
a) The density of the surrounding area is achieved because the Victorian terraces have narrow fronts, minimal front gardens and narrow streets. The limited open space is partly acceptable because most of the houses have adequate back gardens. The proposed layout does not reflect this.
b) Two North-south streets have been squeezed into the site with a distance between them of less than 50m This does not reflect the local street layout of St Matthews. For comparison the distance between Sturton Street and Ainsworth Street directly to the north of the site is about 90metres while the average distance between streets in St. Matthews is 77m.
c) The building heights are almost twice those of the houses in the surrounding streets. The Brief suggests that 4 storeys may be acceptable for apartment blocks and 5 storeys adjacent to the railway. The CIP proposal has 5 storey blocks extending 40m into the site from the railway perimeter. Given the proposed ‘grain’ of the site, this can hardly be seen as the ‘edge’ of the site.
3) Open Space and Gardens
While there is more open space proposed than the minimum suggested by the Brief and in fact required by the Local Plan, we might still hope that a City Council lead development might attempt to be an exemplar for the provision of open space. The proposals make inadequate allowance for open space for the new dwellings, let alone to compensate the local community for the existing lack of provision.
a) The Design and Access Statement (Table 2, p127) states that there should be 0.77 Ha to meet the requirements of the Cambridge Local Plan (2006)
b) The high housing density of the CIP proposal has been achieved at the expense of any garden space for the houses. In a development where family houses seem to be restricted to ‘yards’ no more than 8 metres length, it should be essential to provide sufficient open space for the new occupants.
4) Community facilities and additionality
The proposals for community facilities are grossly inadequate and do not reflect the Brief.
a) The Brief assumes that the development will provide an opportunity to provide community facilities for both the new residents and the existing local community. The proposal to ask the YMCA to provide community facilities on the site is at the cost of losing the current facilities on Gonville Place. The figures provided to the consultation of 100m2 of community space shows no increase in provision, as this merely matches the existing space on Gonville Place which will be lost under the proposed scheme.
b) There is no provision for community control of any community facilities.
c) The time-line in CIP proposals show that the planning application for the YMCA development, including the community facilities, will not be submitted for planning until after the CIP planning application for rest of the site. It is not acceptable for the CIP to make a planning application based on a promise of provision by a third party in a later application and development. Indeed, the St. Matthews community has seen the folly of this approach where repeated schemes at the old Howard Mallet Community Centre site have failed to deliver on the promises of the original applicants.
5) “Affordable” housing and alternative tenures.
The suggested proportion of ‘affordable housing’ is disappointing, given the existing Council ownership of the site. The Brief’s references to supporting alternative forms of tenure such as co-operatives have been ignored.
a) The CIP proposals suggest that 50% of the housing will be “affordable”. While this exceeds the Brief, it is a disappointing proposal for land which is already in the City Council’s ownership. If the Council expects at least 40% of affordable housing on land sold for development, the CIP should be proposing considerably more affordable housing on this site, which is land already owned by the Council.
b) The Brief refers to co-operative tenures and in the past the council has shown an interest in supporting alternative forms tenure, such as the Housing Co-operative and the K1 Co-housing project. There is also research from organisations such as the New Economics Foundation to show that alternative approaches to land ownership, such as Community Land Trusts, can enable land value to be retained by the community and house prices to be both affordable and resistant to market pressures. However, there is no mention of these issues in the CIP proposals.
c) The proposals do not describe or discuss the financial model for the development or make any case for limiting the scope of affordable housing and options for alternative tenures and ownership models. Only if this information is provided can the local community and the planning department evaluate the justifications for departing from the Brief or for failing to provide an exemplary scheme for the city.

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