Cherry Hinton residents grill new land owners of Coldham’s Lane site – and credit to them for doing so at short notice

The site has a long history, and despite being worn down by previous developers, residents stood their ground repeatedly – resulting in the former owners selling the site to a new investment company. Also, the new owners of The Grafton have revamped plans that you can comment on.

TL/DR? See:

The site is that of the old cement works which is featured on the Cherry Hinton History site here. Geoff Kitchin took this wonderful photograph below

Above – by Geoff Kitchin on CCAN herethe disused cement works from the late 1980s

You can read more about the history of Cherry Hinton Village on the CCAN website here. Furthermore, the Victoria County History entry is here. And finally you can join the Cherry Hinton Local History Society here.

***How in the world do you repurpose a former tip full of who knows what, in order to build a science park on it!?!?***

That’s what was so impressive about the cross-examination by the residents at the event at Cherry Hinton Library earlier today. The consultant adviser responsible for that part of the project was subjected to detailed and expertly-targeted questioning given that no one really knows what is buried under there. In a nutshell, their proposal is to ‘cap and seal’ the site, put in additional materiel on top of the cap, and sink some very deep piles into the bedrock which will support the buildings that will be on ground level.

‘If you don’t construct a rail/light rail stop as part of these proposals, many of us will oppose it due to its inevitable impact on road traffic’

Which is what several of us told the transport consultant – who said we needed to make the case early on to get the discussions going. (Scroll to the end to see the email address). I told the consultants they needed to get in touch with Cambridge Connect Light Rail, and also Rail Future East Anglia to start negotiations on how to in corporate a new station between Cambridge Central and Cherry Hinton’s old station incorporated into their proposals.

Above – the plans from Cambridge Connect backed by Rail Future.

*Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn residents, if you would like to support new rail stations and an upgraded railway line between Cambridge and Newmarket, get in touch with Mr Wakefield of Rail Future, and also seriously consider joining Rail Future East (see the link here). You can also have a browse of their most recent newsletters here.

Residents can also email their local MPs ( to contact the Rail Minister on their behalf to ask what actions the government will take to ensure the developers meet with Network Rail, Rail Future, and the Combined Authority to discuss proposals to upgrade the track and ensure a rail or light rail stop can be incorporated into the plans for the site.

“What if this doesn’t happen?”

The developer’s transport consultant talked about commuter shuttle buses from the Newmarket Road Park and Ride, along with the extended Greenways to Fulbourn. I responded that given the number of people potentially working on the proposed site, that won’t be nearly enough to prevent an increase in traffic on a chronically-congested Coldham’s Lane – something local residents have been complaining about for decades. For me, commuter shuttle buses are a symptom of a failure of central government’s buses policies. So long as local councils are banned from forming their own bus companies, are restricted from raising revenue to subsidise a comprehensive network, and pay decent wages to bus drivers, we’ll see more commuter bus services set up that exclude the public and create further congestion as each one sets up their own service.

***No more spreadsheet architecture!***

This was in one of their brochures.

Above – spreadsheet architecture on display

Fortunately for me the consultants had set up their exhibition stands in front of Cherry Hinton Library’s local studies section – whose books I’m familiar with. I showed them the library’s copy of Hideous Cambridge by Jones and Hall – also on Tumblr here.

Above – Hideous Cambridge by Jones & Hall (2013)

(A few copies are available on that auction site)

I pleaded with them not to design and build entries suitable for a second edition!

I also showed two of the architects some of the local history books full of photographs of long lost buildings of Cambridge – in particular ones by Mike Petty MBE, and also by former Mayor of Cambridge the late John Durrant. I showed images of the former Mill silo at Cambridge Railway Station, encouraging the architects to take some inspiration from the top of the building that was burnt down in suspicious circumstances and not restored by Brookgate – one of a few other large developers that came in for criticism from local residents for over putting profits over civic pride.

Above – the old Fosters Mill silo by Cambridge Railway Station – a familiar landmark visible from the top of Lime Kiln Hill, south of Cherry Hinton.

Why local councillors, the Combined Authority, and pro-rail/light rail campaigners need to make the case *now* to the new developers for new station and upgraded rail links

The consultants told us they are still at the masterplanning stages. Therefore *now* is the time to get in there and influence the plans. I suggested they get in touch with Cambridge Connect & Rail Future to see if they can work together – and even fund an early feasibility study. Given the cost of the development, I told them that the costs of a feasibility study is pocket money in the grand scheme of things, and that if local and central government were able and willing to co-fund a rail link, much of the opposition on transport congestion grounds would evaporate – and someone like me instead of being a possible objector to their proposals, could become a supporter if they came up with excellent proposals. And that’s what I ended with. I said I didn’t want to go through yet another losing battle with developers. I wanted them to come up with something excellent that local residents could be proud of, that local school children could go and visit and do projects on, and one that would contribute towards solving our city’s problems rather than contributing towards them.

Have your say!

See and scroll to the end. Feel free to copy that link and share it.

Revamped Grafton Centre proposals.

My first reaction?

I don’t like spreadsheet architecture. Furthermore, it turns out more than a few people also have issues with it too. So much so that ministers have tabled amendments to the Levelling Up Bill incorporating new guidance on ‘Beauty’ in buildings. RIBA, the Architects’ Institute has complained (see here), and also isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder? It’s a controversial subject but then at the same time isn’t it right that people who have to live with the decisions of new building designs (eg local residents) have a say over what the design of new buildings are like given how it will affect their lives? It turns out that the mental health impact of architecture is a new field of study.

“English Heritage and Historic England, two of Britain’s other major heritage and conservation charities, are also exploring the therapeutic side of their properties”

Vanessa Thorpe, 21 Sept 2019 in The Guardian

So feel free to incorporate design and appearance into your feedback to the developers, wherther on the Coldham’s Lane site at and/or for the Grafton Centre’s proposals at

Food for thought?

If you are interested in the longer term future of Cambridge, and on what happens at the local democracy meetings where decisions are made, feel free to:

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