Celebrate a local family house before it’s destroyed forever

On Sunday afternoon (13th May) neighbours and other local residents will be gathering outside 292 Hills Road to celebrate the house’s distinguished history, and to show concern at the escalating threats to Cambridge’s historic housing stock. More information on the event here. Unfortunately it’s not the only family home we’re losing, and some residents fear things are going to get worse…


As mentioned on this blog already, the historic family home at 292 Hills Road is about to be demolished by its owner, despite residents’ attempts to preserve this lovely house. But that’s not all. There was a brief respite given to 291 Hills Road, just across the junction from 292, when the City Council Planning Committee recently threw out plans for flats on that site, but the latest response from its owner, Gibson Developments? An application to demolish it anyway. And as with 291 Hills Road, and 3 and 5 Queen Edith’s Way before them, if owners want to demolish houses which aren’t listed, there’s currently little which those who care about the neighbourhood can do to stop them.

If these scheduled demolitions go ahead, property developers will have bought four long-established family homes within a 100m radius, at a cost of well over six and a half million pounds, just to destroy them. Of course, what’s built in their place might be beautiful, or it might be the type of accommodation the area really needs; but I don’t think any of us believe it’ll be either.

I fear that we could be at the start of a terrible time for established houses in this area. Property ‘development’ companies are circling like vultures. The latest edition of the City Council’s own magazine contains adverts from two more companies (not involved in the properties above) targeting homeowners with the offer to “help land owners unlock the maximum potential value from their plots” and “pay cash for any purchases” if you have “a large garden… in Cambridge”.

I always assumed that as a rule, nobody would demolish a property without accepted plans for the site, for fear that council planners would take a dim view and consequently insist on a less profitable replacement than hoped. That no longer seems to be the case: the property developers here reckon they’re in control now, and they may be right. Demolish first, discuss later, and to hell with what the community might have wanted. Changes may have to come from a higher level than the council, but we need to gather ideas and push for action.


Details of Sunday afternoon’s gathering can be found here.

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