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No 6363

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Vol cxlv No 7

pp. 115–133


First-stage Report of the Council on the North Range of buildings on the New Museums site

The Council begs leave to report to the University as follows:

1. In this Report the Council is seeking approval in principle for the construction works relating to the North Range of buildings on the New Museums site which includes accommodation for a new Student Services Centre.

2. The New Museums site is one of the University’s most prominent sites, occupying an historic location in the city centre with a unique, globally important, architectural and scientific heritage. The current built environment, which is the result of ad hoc development in the first half of the twentieth century, is unsatisfactory. Substantial areas of the site are, or will be, vacant following the relocation of the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, and the former University Computing Service to the West Cambridge site. These areas cannot be left unoccupied and allowed to deteriorate.

3. The improvement of the quality of the New Museums site is therefore an important and urgent part of the University’s Estates Strategy. To this end, a Master Plan has been produced under the guidance of a New Museums Site Development Board, which was approved by the Planning and Resources Committee on 15 October 2014. The intention of this Plan is to ensure that redevelopment of the New Museums site is carried out in a coherent, holistic, and sensitive way that respects the individuality of the existing buildings and institutions on it, while also representing, facilitating, and encouraging the communication and collaboration that is an essential part of the University’s success. In this way it is hoped that the site can be improved as an urban space and as an attractive place of work for staff and students as well as for members of the public.

4. In brief summary, the Master Plan proposes:

The creation of a more sustainable built environment and improved entrances and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists, with greater restrictions on access for (non-emergency) motor vehicles;

The retention and enhancement of those heritage buildings that contribute positively to the site and its surroundings;

Demolition of buildings of lower quality;

The creation of a new spatial structure with clear organization and better way-finding;

The rationalization and improvement of complex existing services networks.

5. The Plan has been developed in consultation with current and prospective users of the site, the Local Planning Authority, and English Heritage. An electronic copy of the Plan can be found at:

6. The first phase of the improvements, in the form of the refurbishment and alteration of the Arup Building (Reporter, 2012–13, 6294, p. 323 and 6316, p. 751), will be complete in 2015. The second phase will focus on the North Range of buildings and will provide accommodation for a new Student Services Centre, improved pedestrian access to the site from Bene’t Street, through high quality external spaces in what is now the Bene’t Street Yard car park and on the site of the Mond Building Annex, cycle parking with ramped access for approximately 500 bicycles in the basement of the Arts School, storm water attenuation measures, and the upgrading of an existing basement under the Austin Building to provide space for a plant room, which will in due course house an energy centre serving the whole of the site.

7. The accommodation for the Student Services Centre will be provided through the refurbishment and alteration of the Arts School and the ground floor of the Old Cavendish Laboratory East and Rayleigh Wings, together with construction of a new building on the site of the existing Examinations Hall.

8. The Student Services Centre is an important University commitment to student support and to the overall student experience, and will deliver services efficiently in the type of modern and integrated environment common in other competitor institutions. It will form a highly visible semi-public core area for student engagement, providing students with improved access to services and information, and will provide accommodation for a large part of the Academic Division of the Unified Administrative Service and cognate student-facing activities including the Accommodation Service, the Careers Service, and the Cambridge Trust. The building will also include replacement, better quality examinations space.

9. The Planning and Resources Committee, at their meeting on 15 October 2014, approved the Full Case for the project. The current estimated cost of the project is £39.2m including £6.5m for the demolition, public realm, and infrastructure works referred to in paragraph 4 above.

10. The project is planned to be completed so that the new building is operational by December 2017. A Second-stage Report will be published in due course to seek approval for implementation of the project.

11. Drawings of the proposals are displayed for the information of the University in the Schools Arcade. A location plan of the New Museums site is shown below.

12. The Council recommends:

I. That approval in principle be given for the construction works outlined in this Report.

II. That the Director of Estate Strategy be authorized to apply for planning permission and listed building consent in due course.

31 October 2014

L. K. Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor

Andy Hopper

Mavis McDonald

N. Bampos

Richard Jones

Susan Oosthuizen

Jeremy Caddick

Fiona Karet

Rachael Padman

Anne Davis

F. P. Kelly

Shirley Pearce

David Good

Mark Lewisohn

I. H. White

Helen Hoogewerf-McComb

Rebecca Lingwood

A. D. Yates

New Museums Site: North Range buildings