Petersfield Building Boom 1994-1999

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A striking amount of building has been going on in the area surrounded by East Road, Mill Road, York Street and New Street, much of it on sites derelict for many years. It's an example of the "densification" proposed as one of the Cambridge Futures options.

For instance:

The student buildings were mainly by the Suffolk developer Dencora and then leased to students by Spires. Most of those buildings were offered for lease to APU but at a rate per room that was deemed too high for students. Their lettings tend to be for a calendar year rather than for the academic year. Also the rooms tend to be smaller than what's considered the minimum size for students, perhaps because they're not intended to have the dual use of conference trade.

There's a striking difference between the City Council's handling of private developers and APU in the area.

Private developersAPU
Few if any public meetings requiredExtensive public meetings required
Minimal advertising of the planning applicationExtensive advertising of the planning application
Rapid determination of planning applicationMonths of delay in planning application
Approval of planning applicationRejection or time-out of planning application
No appeal requiredAppeal (very expensive) required, with many more delays
Minimal extra planning conditionsOnerous and sometimes ludicrous extra planning conditions (examples)


Examples of extra planning conditions

From Peter Taylor House, near to the wall of the Mill Road Cemetery.

  1. An archway between PTH and the 1909ish Ruskin Building was required to be constricted to be 7.5mm (!) wider than the legal minimum for a wheelchair, even though many wheelchair users will need to pass through it. Extra brickwork was thus installed to narrow the width - which can easily be removed if sense ever prevails.
  2. APU as part of its duty-of-care and security policy needs to make the area secure and free from the known sex pests and druggies in the graveyard. Accordingly a secure boundary is needed. The Church of England refused permission for adding fencing on top of the 4-ft-high brick graveyard wall. The next option was to install a fence at least 6ft higher (10ft) next to it or at least 6ft high set several feet in from the wall. The City Council only gave permission for a 6ft one right next to the wall, which would make it trivial to climb over from the brick wall.