Eastern Gate: Planning Committee ignores City Council’s own policies

RARA, in conjunction with Petersfield and Brunswick residents’ groups, has spent many hours in discussions with the City Council about their Eastern Gate development framework. The process began in July 2009, with a first ‘vision’ document agreed in July 2010. In October 2011 the Council adopted the final framework as a Supplementary Planning Document, known as an SPD. This sets guidelines for future development, and should be taken into account as ’emerging policy’ even before adoption. This particular SPD had three important requirements for any future development along the south side of Newmarket Road:

* That developments should vary in height between 3 and 5 storeys to avoid long horizontal rooflines.

* That through routes across the site should be built to help break down barriers between the communities to north and south of Newmarket Road.

* That developments should be set back to allow a continuous line of trees to ‘green’ this approach to the City.

Unfortunately, the Planning Committee has chosen to jettison all three requirements by approving a 5 storey residential block with a 90 metre frontage to sit alongside the previously consented Travelodge hotel of a similar height. Together the two buildings will form a continuous 5 storey 180metre long ‘canyon wall’ from the Cambridge Refrigeration Technology (CRT) building to Coldham’s Lane.

The Committee also allowed the developer’s proposal to step the west end of the building forward to match the frontage of the CRT building (an ugly concrete block). The alternative, which residents argued for, would have been to maintain the building setback along the full frontage in the expectation that the CRT site will also eventually be redeveloped. This would have allowed tree planting to continue all the way to the natural break of Abbey Street.

The Planning Committee also ignored the Council’s Open Spaces Strategy which requires major developments to provide open space. In a block with family accommodation there will not even be a children’s play area.

We all feel that our time has been wasted and that we cannot have confidence in a Council that does not attempt to enforce its own policies. We shall be making protests.