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Report of the Council on further development on the Sidgwick Avenue Site: Notice

26 February 2001

The Council have considered the remarks made at the Discussion of this Report on 16 January 2001 (p. 385).

They welcome Dr Meeks's acceptance of the need for re-housing colleagues so that they have adequate and appropriate space in which to work and interact with other academic disciplines on the Sidgwick Avenue Site. The development of the Site is entirely driven by this academic priority; it has been reflected throughout the process of selection of architects and other designers, the writing of the requirement briefs for the Site and each of the constituent buildings, and the various open meetings that have been held for those who currently work on the Site, or plan to do so. No external developers are involved.

Allies and Morrison, the architectural and masterplanning practice appointed to develop the Master Plan, have been selected as architects for the first two buildings proposed for the Site - English and Criminology - principally on the basis of a track record for enhancing existing sites by the addition of sympathetic buildings and the sensitive creation of spaces within the Site. This has been done very much in the spirit of the original Master Plan drawn up by Sir Hugh Casson of Casson Conder. Indeed this exercise was preceded by a special review as to whether the full needs of academic Faculties and Departments could be achieved on this Site. Dr Meeks is right to remind the University of how piecemeal developments over the years have led to a lack of site quality in other, older University sites and that is precisely why the Planning and Resource Committee requested a Master Plan, so as to create a site which, for those who use or visit it, achieves the best balance between providing good academic space within a cohesive site and avoiding the pitfalls of over-development.

The Council agree that the link with the University Library is important; the buildings along West Road will enhance the 'streetscene' there and will also introduce a new transition area for people entering or leaving the Site at West Road. The proposed development will also enhance the view of the Law Building by providing a attractive courtyard in an area currently used for car parking and storage of waste bins.

Dr Meeks suggested that an appropriate test for the proximity of buildings was whether trees could flourish between them. This may not have been the case in many developments in the University, but the Master Plan certainly places a high priority on tree planting and soft landscaping; additional tree planting is envisaged in several areas.

The Council welcome Dr Meeks's comments regarding the recent work carried out elsewhere on the Sidgwick Avenue Site around the Raised Faculty Building. There is no intention to pave over the whole court at the centre of this building and discussions will be held to consider to what extent this area should provide a meeting space - which it presently does not.

In response to Dr Meeks's last point regarding car parking, as for all new developments the University has to comply with car parking standards required by central and local government policies. There will be a reduction (but not an elimination as suggested) of car parking on the Site and this was extensively discussed at the open meetings with staff and students. The University, as part of its Transport Plan, proposes to set up a bus service which should help alleviate the very serious transport problems in the area.

Turning to the comments by Dr de Lacey and Ms Hewetson, the Council confirm that there will be full and continued consultation with users and cycling groups and certainly with the Sidgwick Site Committee regarding safety, security, services, and other matters affecting the Site. Discussion has already begun with some of these groups, in particular the Sidgwick Site Committee, and this will continue until the completion of the project. The Council appreciate particularly the Sidgwick Site Committee's welcome of 'a coherent approach to the planning and development of the site'.

The Council understand that certain Boards of Faculties with buildings on the Sidgwick Site consider that they have not been consulted sufficiently. Two Open Meetings in November directed at individual users, but also at the various Faculties on the Site, were widely advertised and well attended. With the agreement of the institutions involved, consultation was also directed through two representative users, namely the Chairmen of the Councils of the Schools concerned. It had been hoped to post the Master Plan and an appropriate feedback mechanism on the Web at an early date to facilitate consultation; this has regrettably been delayed because of staffing problems but will be put in place as soon as possible. The Council will, however, ensure that all the Faculty Boards on the Sidgwick Site are specifically addressed in any further consultation process.

In their Report the Council recommended that approval be given to the principles of the Master Plan, which would then be submitted to the City Council for approval. Detailed plans for the individual buildings on the Site would be brought forward in Reports to the University for discussion in the usual way. There would at this stage be further opportunity for consideration of specific construction projects.

The Council have therefore agreed to submit a Grace to the Regent House (Grace 4, p. 511) for the approval of the recommendations in this Report.


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Cambridge University Reporter, 28 February 2001
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