Hobson Street cinema – when profit is not the main driver

This proposal from Johnathan Gimblett stands in stark contrast to a direction for the architects & consultants to maximise the potential financial returns of the land under Hobson Street Cinema.

I’ve taken the liberty to expand the image (I hope that’s OK!) because Mr Gimblett has done something that I wouldn’t have even dreamt of.

The imaginative use of glass vs the existing bland proposals sets Mr Gimblett’s proposals apart from the developers’ architects’ response to the parameters from the site owners. i.e. maximise the financial return, minimise the cost. It’s what the present planning and property/finance system incentivises. Generations of ministers and governments have lacked the willpower and imagination to respond to this challenge and put the interests of the wider community, city/town, society, and environment ahead of the financial returns of those who hold the wealth. If it wasn’t the present owners and consultants doing this, it would be a different lot. My issue is with the system. Which is broken. Utterly.

This is the part that’s particularly interesting (above) – the potential to open up Hobson’s Passage and thus deal with the present stench of rubbish and human waste that could benefit both buildings either side of the passage.

Above – note the imaginative use of try to bring in more natural light into an otherwise cramped space with little natural light

Above – the facade maintained with the proposal trying to work *with* the building rather than completely demolishing it.

“Will it comply with the Building Regulations and the National Planning Policy Framework and the Local Plan?”

That’s what expensive technically-qualified people are there to do: take the concepts such as the above and turn it into something that can be tested against the regulations and guidance, put out to public consultation, and then ultimately onto a planning committee.

The problem with the land and property bubble in/around Cambridge – and in other cities, is that the biggest driver above all else is maximising financial returns. Not only that, doing that in a manner that seeks to comply with the bare minimum, with the system enabling any value being extracted in a series of land and property sales prior to anyone who actually wants to do something positive with the site actually securing ownership of it. Hence why I think any planning permissions should expire upon the transfer of ownership of any site. (Furthermore you then have to deal with the risk of the system coming up with a method of gaming the system by having a site being turned into a ‘company’ and the ownership of the company being the thing that gets bought and sold in lieu of the site.)

If you’ve got any thoughts/comments, feel free to get in touch with Mr Gimblett on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jonathan_gblt as these are his ideas, not mine.

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:

%d bloggers like this: