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Plans approved for next phase of Cambridge North

Secretary of State Michael Gove has approved plans for the next phase of a mixed-use regeneration scheme at Cambridge North, on the derelict former railway sidings land next to Cambridge North Railway Station and Guided Busway Interchange. The development is being brought forward by the Chesterton Partnership – a venture comprising Network Rail Property and DB Cargo and development partner Brookgate.

The development supports a national and regional need for new homes and science and technology space. It will deliver 53,700 sq m of commercial space, including provision for new laboratories and offices, as the Cambridge region and the wider UK looks to establish itself as a life sciences superpower on the global stage.

A truly mixed-use development, the plans deliver 425 new homes and 5,000 sq m of flexible ground floor space for cafes, shops, bars and community space. New public realm and green spaces will enliven an accessible new urban neighbourhood as a gateway from Cambridge North Station to the wider North East Cambridge area.

Once fully completed, Cambridge North will support 4,300 jobs and deliver essential space to allow smaller local and larger national and international businesses to grow and promote investment in the city of Cambridge.

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Following several years of workshops and consultations with stakeholders, community groups and the local authorities, the proposals have been designed in response to the South Cambridgeshire District Council’s vision to create great places with wellbeing and social inclusion at their heart around core infrastructure. The plans, by award-winning architecture practices Acme and Make, provide extensive green spaces, material improvements to biodiversity and respond to the climate change challenge with energy and water efficient buildings and by encouraging the shift to more sustainable means of transport.

New public spaces, which are accessible to all, such as Chesterton Gardens at the heart of the residential quarter, will create a neighbourhood courtyard including children’s play equipment, seating and extensive planting encouraging everyone to use the space. A new civic space, Chesterton Square, will provide an active public space, supporting amenities for the community to enjoy.

A ‘wild park’ of planting, with a pond habitat, will be a green, biodiverse space for visitors as well as those that live and work at Cambridge North to enjoy. The proposals will see a significant net gain in biodiversity of over 80% and will involve planting in excess of 340 new trees and providing landscape areas on building roofs.

"Cambridge North is a hugely important scheme given its scale and significance for the City and region."

The planned homes respond to significant local need and will provide a mixture of tenures, including 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom homes for sale, shared ownership or rent. 40% of the homes for private sale will be designated as affordable housing.

Cycleways will be expanded with a new spine route ‘Station Row’ through the site, and plans include parking provision for 2,500 cycle spaces.

Once complete, the new neighbourhood will enhance economic, social and environmental wellbeing for those that live and work at Cambridge North and to the wider area. It will provide work and training opportunities to support people from disadvantaged backgrounds with this commitment embedded throughout the design, procurement, construction, estate management and operation of Cambridge North.

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"The continued regeneration of public brownfield land around the Cambridge North Station will create an open and accessible mixed-use neighbourhood providing an attractive and vibrant gateway from the station to surrounding areas."

Robin Dobson, Group Property Director, Network Rail Property said:

“Cambridge North is a hugely important scheme given its scale and significance for the City and region. With planning approval received, this is a strategic step forward in the regeneration of over 30 acres of underused railway land to deliver significant investment and social value. Cambridge North puts infrastructure and travel at the very heart of a new neighbourhood community with new homes, science and technology delivering jobs and investment. The project demonstrates the pivotal role Network Rail Property can play in unlocking sites which deliver growth, jobs and housing. We look forward to continuing working in partnership with key stakeholders and the local community to bring forward the project many years in the making.”

Sven Topel, CEO at Brookgate, said:

“We are pleased that the Secretary of State has recognised the important local and national value of these plans in supporting the sustainable growth of Cambridge, providing much needed homes and science and technology workspace. The continued regeneration of public brownfield land around the Cambridge North Station will create an open and accessible mixed-use neighbourhood providing an attractive and vibrant gateway from the station to surrounding areas.

“The delivery of high-quality workspace, including laboratory, technology and office will make this development at Cambridge North an integral part of the city’s aims to become a life science superpower, in line with the Government’s own ambitions for the region and country.

“New homes, with a variety of tenures of homes alongside public spaces will help to grow a vibrant a mixed-use community with amenities that can be enjoyed by those that live, work and visit Cambridge North.”

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A sustainable development, Cambridge North is located two and a half miles from Cambridge city centre, with excellent public transport and cycling links into the city and surrounding areas. The proposals include energy efficient buildings utilising on-site renewable energy and providing a route to Net Zero Carbon. Each commercial building will target an Energy Performance Certificate A and BREEAM Outstanding ratings. Cambridge North will be highly water efficient utilising grey and rainwater harvesting.

The plans to transform the area are already underway: A 217-bed Novotel hotel opened in May 2021 creating over 60 full-time jobs and an office building, One Cambridge Square, opened in 2023 attracting tenants such as Samsung, EY and serviced office operator Newflex. The East of England Co-Op has opened a new convenience store in the building.