Cambridge elections – can we save Romsey Labour Club?

It’s things like this that helped persuade me the system of local government in England is broken. It’s one that stops local councils from protecting their civic heritage & local history.

“Patriotism is not enough! Only love can save the world!”

Above – thus declared the banner at the top of the Romsey Labour Club on its opening in 1928 – see Capturing Cambridge here.

Sadly it is in a very neglected state and it is not clear what the site owner wants to do with it.

“£3million price tag for Romsey Labour Club with new planning permission yet another example of a broken planning system”

Back in 2019 I wrote the above article shortly after the site owner secured planning permission for the development of a complex of apart-hotel rooms on what was the garden of the club. This was because shortly after the planning permission had been secured, the site owner put the site up for sale with the uplifted price of the planning permission.

The last valuation I can find is £2.5million from 2022 here with Carter Jonas listed as the agent.

But Bl**dy hell we tried.

You can watch some of the video footage in the list below:

  • 28 March 2018Speeches objecting to the planning application of 2018
  • 25 April 2019Speech by the site owner’s agent (Mr McKeown of Carter Jonas – note as in courts of law, he’s a professional who has been instructed by the site owner in the same way a lawyer is instructed to represent a client in civil proceedings or a defendant in criminal proceedings. It’s not a statement of their personal opinions!)
  • 03 August 2022Planning Committee hearing (rejecting application for additional units following the failure to sell in 2019/20 following the CV19 outbreak which hit the world economy)

There are still a couple of very old videos from the interior when it was used for community use under I think a previous owner.

The planning committee papers for 2019 for both the Romsey Labour Club *and* the Queen Edith’s pavilion on Nightingale Rec are here.

You can also see the wider historical context with the Mill Road History Society’s event on a history of schooling in Cambridge – Hills Road to Mill Road – the video is here.

“What can we do?”

Have a discussion with all of your city council candidates – see and ask about what their party’s national policy proposals are to enable such local historical buildings to be saved for community use. Alternatively you can write to the existing city councillors and your MPs who are not standing for election in May 2023 via and ask them for advice – and even an update from the Head of Planning of the Greater Cambridge Planning Service on what the current state of affairs is. It may even be a case of where you need to ask your local MP to write to the Minister for Housing and Planning to advise on what actions the local council can take.

Either way it’s got to the stage where we cannot let it rest. It’s an outrage that two of our most significant 20th century town buildings (The Hobson Street Cinema – do go to the event at The Guildhall on 19 April from 2pm-7pm to make your views known to the developer – esp saving and restoring the facade), are at risk.

We are Cambridge. We should be better than this.

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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