Five o’clock on the afternoon of Monday 25 March 2019 saw the end of the initial public consultation on the North East Cambridge Area Action Plan, being jointly prepared by Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council. At the heart of this plan, alongside the developing-out of the area around Cambridge North railway station, is the proposed relocation of the water treatment works at Milton to enable the redevelopment of the 120-acre site to become the latest, significant development site in the ever-expanding city.
That consultation on this first strategic phase ended just shy of a fortnight after the Chancellor of the Exchequer confirmed £227 million of public funds to progress the proposed development is no coincidence.
The development project - earmarked for 5,200 new homes and up to one million square feet of commercial development - is of such major national significance that government grant to relocate Anglian Water’s treatment works is being made available in order to unlock the potential of the Cambridge North East Fringe.
In the story of Cambridge’s expansion, the development spans two chapters. It is certainly the last of the sites of any substantial scale within the city’s local authority boundaries and it also completes an arc of strategic regeneration and development projects to the north of the city.
This chapter of development, arguably, began in the early 2000s with the regeneration of Arbury Camp in becoming Orchard Park. Well underway now is the new settlement of Northstowe centred around the site of the former RAF Oakington and, in turn, the wholesale redevelopment of Waterbeach Barracks. On a smaller scale towards the north city village of Girton, there’s also the Darwin Green development - albeit the latter is residential, in the main, rather than mixed use.
Add these ‘northern’ located projects to the developing CB4 site around Cambridge North railway station and you can see how this North East Fringe district could be seen as the final project in a phase of the city’s development.
Yet in looking at the vision prepared for the development, it would be very wrong to characterise it as the ‘final frontier’.
It was last summer (July 2018) when we at Barker Storey Matthews joined in the chorus of approval by property professionals in the city when it was announced that U+I had been appointed as the masterplanner to lead the landmark project - whose value is calculated at circa £3.5 billion and will take 15 years deliver fully.
U+I is a development company with a reputation for its fresh approach to regeneration and redevelopment and a desire to roll-up its sleeves and creatively involve both community and commercial stakeholders in its projects from the get-go.
It’s regarded as a pioneer in developing brownfield sites, in which it specialises. And, not to be delicate about it, or, indeed, too frivolous, what could be a more challenging ‘brownfield’ site than one on which a water treatment plant has been for decades?
The proposed North East Fringe district cannot help but be the compass counterbalance to the North West Cambridge development of Eddington between Huntingdon Road and Madingley Road. As a development led by the University of Cambridge to its own brief, Eddington sees some striking and award winning commercial and community use buildings.
The calibre of the proposed North East Fringe development looks set to be part of a new movement in the development industry and, it will, in all likelihood set the tone for the next chapter of Cambridge’s development story.
For more information about development opportunities in Cambridge, contact Ben Green, 01223 467155, firstname.lastname@example.org.