In the latest example of “Quick – there’s a space – let’s build on it!”, competing parties have their eyes on the plaza in the centre of the Leisure Park. First out of the blocks, in the black corner, are the owners of the site, X-Leisure (themselves owned by Land Securities), who want to build a new restaurant building between the Travelodge and The Light Cinema. In the white corner is the management of the Cambridge Junction, who have had to bring forward ideas they’ve had about expanding the arts and entertainment venue, something I suspect more residents would support. Anyone living at that end of Cherry Hinton Road has something like 25 places to buy food and drink within a five-minute walk, so more arts facilities might be considered a priority.
But wait: according to the Cambridge News report, the rebuild of the Cambridge Junction will be a massive eight storeys, with facilities for music, creative, cultural and tech companies and keeping the theatre and rehearsal space. It’s hardly an insignificant development itself. And I know that there are many families who like the idea of a TGI Friday’s restaurant coming to the area. So maybe things aren’t so black and white.
The huge paved area in the centre of the Leisure Park is unquestionably poor. I’m sure the planting arrangements for the site were never fully realised, a bit like at the Marque opposite. However, it’s being claimed by those who were there that the scale and density of the buildings at Cambridge Leisure were permitted only because of the open space of the plaza. So filling it in with yet another restaurant, preventing the Cambridge Junction from expanding, is not at all palatable either.
As an objector on the council’s planning website has already written: “Yes, the Square could be better. But improve it, do not build over it. If Land Securities do not have the imagination of skills to do this then it is time to place the square in the hands of those who can.”
You can read the public comments about the restaurant proposal here and see the documents associated with that application here. The Cambridge Junction development does not seem to have been put forward as a formal application yet.
I have re-published Cambridge Junction’s extensive response to the restaurant application in full below. Details of their proposal are here.
What do you think?