Azara Blog: Castle and Victora Road Conservation Area

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Date published: 2012/04/24

Apparently Cambridge City Council has an obligation to review Conservation Areas now and again. Surprise, the only outcome of such reviews is to extend the Conservation Areas further and further outwards from the city centre. The current algorithm seems to be that any neighbourhood that is, to a large extent, Victorian or Edwardian or older, is placed in a Conservation Area. It is good for the middle class bureaucrats with dubious aesthetic taste who like to determine what people can and cannot do with their property. It is not good for anyone else.

The latest Cambridge City Council proposal for a Conservation Area is for the Castle and Victoria Road area.

Of course it includes Victorian / Edwardian terraces. The boundary stops just at 1930s housing. There is no reason for this other than snobbery. Needless to say, over the next twenty years they will start forcing areas with 1930s housing into Conservation Areas.

There are a few oddities. As part of the general snobbery they say the following about the perfectly reasonable Peter Maitland Court at the corner of Victoria Road and Garden Walk: "the red brick, three-storey Peter Maitland Court detracts, its scale emphasised by the colour of the brick". Well, that's a convincing argument. In fact it was designed by Bland, Brown and Cole whose work is pretty good on the whole, including here.

On Benson Street there is a 2010 building containing two flats for Murray Edwards College, designed by AC Architects Cambridge. The report here says: "it is assertively modern and uses a cream brick, but it has lead sheet roof and its scale is modest - one and a half storey to the road - and it fits in well". But this is exactly the kind of building that could easily have trouble getting planning permission in future in such a Conservation Area. And presumably the only reason it is deemed good is because it is so new. Give it another twenty years (like Peter Maitland Court now) and no doubt the conservationists of the day will complain about it.

Of course industrial buildings also get slated, because we can't possibly have industrial buildings in Cambridge, e.g.: "Unfortunately the rear view of the Tyre Depot on Histon Road is unattractive."

Unbelievably they want to make the southern end of Histon Road part of the Conservation Area. And yet they themselves admit it is in effect a dump, and in particular the view up the road "detracts".

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