Azara Blog: Cambridge fire station planning application rejected

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Date published: 2006/11/09

The Cambridge Evening News says:

Plans for Cambridge's new fire station have been thrown out after being branded "Stalinist".

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority wants to demolish Parkside fire station and build a new one with 131 flats above, a restaurant or cafe and car parking.

But Cambridge City Council's planning committee said the scheme was overdevelopment and some flats lacked adequate light and ventilation.

John Andrews, managing director of developers Revurban Developments, told the committee: "High-quality design was of paramount importance to us. The scheme provides vital facilities at no cost to the local taxpayer.

"It is a positive contribution to townscape and design quality, affordable housing, provides the first car club in Cambridge and together with your officers, I recommend the scheme for your approval."

But councillors' concern ranged from the quality of the design to the dangers of radiation from a mobile mast on the nearby police station.

Coun Alan Baker, committee chairman, described the flats on East Road as "Soviet style, Stalinist" but Coun Sian Reid said the scheme was "imaginative".

Coun Baker said: "I don't think the application provides appropriate living conditions for light, air quality and the size of accommodation. We need more detail on the location and mix of affordable housing.

"I'm concerned about servicing of the commercial unit and it is my belief the tower is far too tall."

The committee approved a separate application for the demolition of existing buildings but rejected the new development by five votes to four. The fire authority plans to appeal.

Whenever a Cambridge councillor doesn't like a proposed development he (or she) calls it "Stalinist". It doesn't prove anything. And it's ridiculous that the planners cannot work with developers better up front, so that concerns can be addressed before applications are formally considered, for example with regard to height. As it is, an appeal will be made which is going to cost the taxpayer a lot of money whichever side wins. And the end build quality is unlikely to be any better, even if the city "wins". Too much building development money in the UK is spent on lawyers rather than on architects and engineers.

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