Campaign to save 291 Hills Road: the latest news

The campaign by local residents to save the large house on the corner of Hills Road and Queen Edith’s Way is proving to be a model of how people can get together and say what they want in their community. But of course, housing developers tend not to care about what local communities want – and the councils which make the final decision often side with the developers. So if you care about this landmark campaign, please read on and get involved, even if it’s only by sending in an email.

“Raylands” is the 1910 Edwardian house at 291 Hills Road which is surrounded by trees. I wrote about it last year, here and then here. Its history is covered on the Capturing Cambridge website.

A local company, Gibson Developments Ltd, wants to demolish the house and replace it with a modern block of flats which anyone would agree is not as in keeping with the area as the existing house. These people are also behind the demolition and replacement of the houses at 3 and 5 Queen Edith’s Way. After that was waved through by the City Council’s planning committee, local residents decided to get more organised about trying to save 291 Hills Road from Gibson Developments, and have come together under the ‘Cambridge Deserves Better’ banner. Support has come from many unexpected places, and over 100 objections have been submitted to the City Council, which must be some sort of record.

This is not NIMBYism. Many of the supporters of the campaign (including me) accept that we have an affordable housing shortage in the area. But demolishing properties in good condition to squeeze new ones on the same plot is not the way ahead. More half-million-pound flats is not what the area needs – there are plenty of unsold examples of those. The developer hasn’t explored options to retain, convert and extend 291 Hills Road, which could remain a large family home or be converted into more affordable flats. Every old building which is allowed to be demolished is another example for future speculators to point at. This is about retaining some sort of character to the area.

Below is a new, 3-page leaflet from the campaign to save 291 Hills Road. Please print it out and give it a read. The guide gives you some genuine reasons to object to the demolition of this house. Even if you’ve already done so, you can update your response or others in your household can add theirs. Objections can be added to the City Council website, sent in by email or by conventional post. We only have a couple more weeks to make our voices heard, so do make a few minutes to do so. Remember that – disgracefully – there are no councillors from the whole of the south area of Cambridge on the planning committee, so we’re appealing to people over who we have no electoral influence. Our arguments need to be technically sound, and the leaflet is a good guide to this.

Had a read of that? Click here to see a list of all the official documents.

The key illustrative guide is probably the one titled “DAS ADDENDUM”. It wasn’t available earlier so I made a copy here.

How do I make a comment?

The best people to contact with further questions and comments are:

You must quote reference “17/1372/FUL”

As well as commenting to the council, please feel free add any information and thoughts which you have in the space below for other local residents to read.

One Reply to “Campaign to save 291 Hills Road: the latest news”

  1. It’s much easier to make efficient buildings by knocking down and starting again than it is to do it by retrofitting. And efficient buildings is absolutely paramount if we’d like to keep the sea more than a mile away from Cambridge in the long term, amongst other issues. Any new design will be much better in energy terms than this old house, although we should insist on all new buildings in Cambridge being passivehouses. Every building replaced with a passivehouse (or refurbished to passivehouse standards (it is usually possible), is one small step to avoiding total disaster.

    So yes, keep this if it can be refurbed to passivehouse standard, otherwise get rid of it and put something decent in its place. We don’t have time to mess about any more. The next 20 years sets what happens to us all over the following 300, and right now nothing like enough people are taking the problem seriously. They still think historic buildings are a more important issue than the fact that we can’t be burning any fossil gas in boilers in 20 years time, which implies a complete replacement of either gas sourcing, or the heating requirement/equipment for nearly every building in the country. The fact the listed building people haven’t already been told they have no veto indicates a complete failure to understand how serious our climate problem is.

    What this building looks like from the outside really is neither here nor there.

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