The Romsey Labour Club – what’s going to happen to it? Another empty unused former community building still lies empty

Image: Opening of the Romsey Labour Club, 10 Oct 1928, Cambridgeshire Collection

You can read the Mill Road History Society’s building report here

Last we heard it was taken off the market.

It was the subject of a hotly-contested planning application which the property owner ultimately won.

…hence writing a blogpost titled: £3million price tag for Romsey Labour Club with new planning permission yet another example of a broken planning system. I’m not going to repeat the explanation in this post as to how landowners can make a profit from the change of designation/planning status of plots of land. Three years prior, I wrote a blogpost on how developers in the vicinity of Cambridge Railway Station gamed the planning system to their benefit, meaning the community missed out on what should have been an iconic piece of redevelopment.

“Sounds like the Hobson Street Cinema just on a different road”

I’ve written about the Hobson Street Cinema above in an earlier blogpost here. With more than one old building needing restoration to bring back into the public realm, I made the case for a Permanent Mayor’s Fund for Cambridge to pay for it – primarily through bequests and soliciting large donations in the way Cambridge University and its colleges do.

“So, what is the plan?”

Encouraging people to get involved in the local elections in May. It’s up to voters to engage with their candidates to make the case for bringing old buildings back into public use.

…and encouraging people to contact the candidates standing in their area. In South Cambridge the Romsey Labour Club is within walking distance of many residents in Romsey and Coleridge Wards – the latter had not been designated as such when the club was opened in 1929.

“What about the property owner?”

This is something that the candidates and incumbent councillors have a role in leading on. I don’t want to be in the business of having angry mobs turning up outside people’s homes. (Or rather, *Ask nicely first*). There’s a huge opportunity for an up-and-coming candidate/new councillor to take this cause on and get the building back into community use, mindful that the existing planning permission expires in 13 months time (For serviced apartments amongst other things) before the permission and the value uplift vanish.

Reusing and recycling buildings is now essential in responding to climate change

See Historic England here. More applicable to the Hobson Street Cinema, this is likely to become more of a theme both in terms of changing the incentives for developers (things like VAT and tax incentives) through to regulations making it harder to comprehensively redevelop sites with existing old buildings that can be renovated instead.

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