Haysom Ward Miller were recommended by a planning consultant to our client who had recently had a planning application for apartments on the site refused. The site was previously an old builder's merchant adjacent to a disused railway line, now repurposed as a guided busway linking the village to the centre of Cambridge. The character of the immediate surroundings is dominated by the over-engineered materials and signage of the level crossing and disused neighbouring industrial buildings.
We advised that in the first instance we would lead fresh negotiations with the Parish Council who had strongly opposed the previous scheme. We proposed a new approach which was to consider firstly the wider public realm; to reimagine the level crossing as a new public square.
The Parish Council were greatly encouraged by the potential of this approach, and took the lead in the subsequent community engagement programme, bringing together two other teams of developers and architects with whom we submitted a joint planing application to renew our site and the existing neighbouring derelict sites. This included renewing the old disused but potentially quaint railway station building. We agreed a shared palette of materials and consistency of form to create a coherence to the wider area.
Other neighbouring amenities included a local pub, a community woodland, a local convenience store, and the engagement process included consultation with local stakeholders to encourage the adaptation of these facilities so that they might help to animate and enliven this shared public space.We proposed that the building on our site be stepped back to provide a green, tree-lined landscaped edge to the busway, with the entrance facing the junction to form a point of focus to the space.
Car parking would be tucked away below a raised podium, landscaped above to form a shared garden for the residents. The massing of the development is broken up to reflect the scale of the surrounding urban grain. The planning application was strongly supported by the Parish Council, received no significant objections, and was granted planning approval under delegated powers by the planning officers.