Cambridge Past, Present & Future *object* to demolition of Hobson Street’s Art Deco Cinema

You can also email the project team via consult[@] registering your objections on similar grounds. Above – Photo by Mira66 on Flickr Here, taken in 2012 which is why it looks nicer.

You can read the letter in full via the document titled Consultation on redevelopment of 3 sites at Sidney Street/Hobson Street Cambridge., which is on Cambridge PPF’s planning consultation responses list here. You can also see the developer’s website here

To summarise:

  • The loss of the cinema façade at 21 Hobson Street and the design of the new facade
  • Roof Structure.
  • Community Space.
  • Cycle Parking
  • Construction
  • Post development
  • Public transport
“That’s more than a few issues!”

As one of the members of the public who met the project team at The Guildhall told me, the consultants conceded that their proposals were designed to maximise the financial return on the land beneath the building. Which is one of the reasons why it’s useful to have specialists in the field going along to cast a critical, expert eye on such proposals. At the same time – and as I mentioned in the video from my placard-backed sulk outside, the street cleaners also gave their opinions on how there is no way the current proposals would deal with the street cleaning issues that they have to deal with.

Above – outside the consultation event at The Guildhall on 19 April 2023

Decent urban design would ‘design out’ those problems and make their jobs easier. Which will benefit the city more? Designing out the problem while making a lower financial return (but not a loss), or extracting every last penny of value from the site for the owner while leaving the city’s residents to pick up the tab of the long term cleaning costs?

What Cambridge PPF said about the façade.

We believe that you should take inspiration from other developments which have retained frontages such as the former Addenbrookes hospital on Trumpington Street which retains the frontage with total modernisation of the interior for the University Judge Business School.”

The existing façade is of a 1930’s art deco design, the importance of which has been recognised by its designation as a Building of local Interest. The Conservation Area Appraisal describes the building as “Egyptienne”. It identifies the building as a focal feature and included in a key positive view. The architecture of the façade is highly detailed and has strong vertical lines emphasised by the windows and the articulation.

Cambridge PPF to c/o GDS Estates 21/04/2023
Comparing what the architects came up with to what their said just over a year ago in early 2022.

You can read what Donald Insall Assocs said here.

“Insall is applying our understanding of the history history [sic] and building pattern of the area to put forward design proposals for the sites’ redevelopment. Through this process, we are able to negotiate sustainable ideas ideas in discussion with the team, the local authority, and the community. We are designing a high quality sustainable solution that incorporates different uses and works to overcome the negative aspects identified around the site.”

Karen Teideman-Barrett for Donald Insall Assocs 14 Feb 2022

I’ve not seen much evidence of understanding that history. Furthermore, the developers need to explain why the building has been allowed to decay to the state that it is currently in. They have to own it.

Either way, do email the developers using the email address CambridgePPF did (at the top of this blogpost) or via their website here. Furthermore you can:

If you don’t ask, then you definitely don’t get!

Is there an alternative?

Yes – see Jonathan Gimblett’s ideas in the previous blogpost here.

Above – detail from Mr Gimblett.

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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