Planning Application News: Hills Road

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Where is the planning application for?
291 Hills Road, the house on the north-east corner of the Long Road crossroads.

What does the site look like?
The large detached house is about a hundred years old, on a relatively large plot. It is hidden behind trees and vegetation…

…but here’s what it looks like…

What do they want to do?
Almost inevitably, demolish the house and replace it with flats. The planning application comes from Gibson Developments Ltd, the same people who are demolishing the houses just a few yards away at 3 and 5 Queen Edith’s Way and replacing them with six new houses across the two plots.

What will the flats look like?

The plan is for the new property to have 15 one- and two-bedroomed flats in two blocks. The entrance to the plot would move from Hills Road around the corner into Queen Edith’s Way. About half of the 25-30 trees on the plot would be removed. There would be parking for 15 cars, mainly in a basement.

The Hills Road Area Residents Association & Queen Edith’s Way Residents Association have jointly produced a statement on the development. You can read it here.

When is the last date for local people to comment?
Friday 15 September 2017.

Where is there more information available?

Click here to read all the documents.

The key documents are the ones labelled ‘REVISED D & A STATEMENT’ and ‘FINAL PLANNING STATEMENT’ on the full list of documents here.

How do I make a comment?
I would suggest the best people to contact with questions and comments are:
The City Council case officer, Charlotte Burton – email charlotte.burton@cambridge.gov.uk
• City Council Planning Services, Tel: 01223 457200
• Your local City Councillors:
– Councillor George Pippas – email george.pippas@cambridge.gov.uk
– Councillor Tim Moore – email tim.moore@cambridge.gov.uk
– Councillor Jennifer Page-Croft – email jennifer.croft@cambridge.gov.uk

You must quote reference “17/1372/FUL”

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


Reminder – Whenever I add a new article to this website about new developments in Queen Edith’s, I send out a notification email to anyone who wants it. If you’d like to be included on the circulation, please add your name to my list here.

11 Replies to “Planning Application News: Hills Road”

  1. The new building looks incredibly bland. I recognise this is not relevant when commenting on applications (in terms of what the officers will consider) but still. Why do developers and architects never make an effort with these? Why do we rarely get a building that has real class?

  2. I am very confused by the contrast between the description of the approach to landscaping explained on page 15 of the Revised D&A statement and the illustrations contained in the ‘Street Views’ document.

    Those illustrations do not reflect to me that “The landscape design is a fundamental part of the development and centres on an approach of retaining as much of the existing landscape structure as possible. The proposals are to be integrated within the wider landscape, for example by softening and connecting the edges of the development.”

    I also love the statement that “Evergreen hedge planting will give instant structure and help soften view of Queen Ediths Way and Hills Road.” What about the appearance of the property when viewed from QEW and Hills Road? Or will we all be so wowed by the “playful pitched roof forms which relate it to surrounding buildings” that we won’t mind losing half the trees on the site?

    1. More generally: there is more money to be made from demolishing existing housing stock and building 15 one & two bed flats than there is from restoring what could once more become a truly wonderful family home. Some will argue that it’s “better” to promote 15 (moderately expensive) dwellings than one (massively expensive) dwelling; but there is still clearly a market for the latter in South Cambridge (e.g. this) and it is that style of house which has characterised our neighbourhood for the last 100 years. The thing I find most ominous about this application is the way it is justified by reference to all the other family homes we’ve already lost. I think we can all see where this is going …

  3. How depressing.
    A lot of modern architecture is well designed and inspiring – not this example.
    Remember when Taylor Vinters Building on Milton Road was nicknamed the Belgrano?
    What shall we call this one – Tirpitz?

  4. I have watched – with some trepidation – this once grand house sinking into decay. It was the home in the 1940s of Winton-Smith, the famous sausage maker with a factory on East Road, just behind where the Fire Station is now. I am sure, with the current pressure on Cambridge for old family houses that this grand house could be marketed and snapped up by a well heeled buyer who would restore it to its original gracious Edwardian state.

    The “gobbling up” of Cambridge – as we used to know it – is a disgusting scene, lining the pockets of builder- entrepreneurs to the detriment of local neighbourhoods. “Old” Cambridge is vanishing as we blink, and by old I mean Cambridge from 1900 onwards. The planners do not seem to care what is happening to this once very special city.

    1. Rosemary, I totally agree with your comments above. Would you consider writing a letter to our local papers, or even to a national one? We have little chance of stopping this block of flats via our local planning dept, and the horror many of us are feeling is a citywide feeling.

      And just wait, once approved, and built (with no allocation of ‘social housing’) as they almost certainly will be, the estate agent’s advert will say ‘within easy reach of London via the new Addenbrooke’s Railway Station’.

      Thanks Chris, for your great service with this planning notification site – what a shame for us all that each and every application in our area (and all over Cambridge) is a garden grab (in this case 3 gardens!) block of flats.

  5. The Planning Department does not seem to have the staff to resist such developments (having difficulty attracting/keeping them due to the cost of living in Cambridge) so applications back up and the pressure on to push them through. Charging more for applications and using funds to pay more to keep staff could be the answer but this can undermine relative pay structures in the Council – does central government dictate planning application charges?

    If new houses and apartments were made available to those employed or seeking employment in or around Cambridge then perhaps the inevitable change in the City’s character maybe better accepted.

    1. A good point about the cost of living. One strategy might be to look at housing, since that takes up most of people’s income. Since housing is in short supply, it’s cost is increased, pricing many people out. One idea is to demolish inefficient uses of land, such as individual houses on large plots in the city, and replace them with buildings that provide more accommodation.

      Alternatively we can get very nimby about the whole thing, so that large housing estates are built out of town. Then we can all moan about the amount of commuter traffic coming into the city on a daily basis and how it’s ruining our city.

      1. Lovely theory James, but the empty flats locally demonstrate that the market isn’t working in the way that you (or any of us) would wish. Sadly, developers seem happy to let flats go unsold in the hope of getting an inflated price, and when they do, “buy to leave” is all too common. Large occupied buildings could be replaced by even larger semi-occupied ones, housing no more people at any one time.

  6. This development gives a very rare opportunity to improve the junction at that corner. The current design was severely constrained by the available width. A decent cycleway with separate pavement could be fitted in as part of this development, which would be a really useful bit of planning gain. This could be done without land actually changing hands, and would make the new buildings more attractive as residents (as well as everyone else) would have a nice segregated cycle route without pedestrian/cycle conflict at the corner. The planners can’t require this, but hopefuly the developers can be persuaded that such a change is in their interest.

    The existing building does look pretty, but it also looks shockingly badly insulated and is the sort of building that is hard to fix. Given the pressing need to decarbonise in less than 20 years, properly insulating this building is necessary anyway. Demolition and rebuild will probably be the most cost-effective, (and technically effective) way of doing this, whatever sort of building is put up instead. Huge old Edwardian piles like this all need massive refurb of some sort ASAP. We should insist that the replacement is passivehouse grade – it makes no sense to build anything worse, given that new buildings are likely to be there for another 100 years.

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