The Mill Lane riverside area is set to be redeveloped after almost a decade of discussionLouis Ashworth

Following almost a decade of discussion, plans to redevelop the Old Press / Mill Lane area of Cambridge are set to be revealed later this month. The regeneration, proposed by the University, Pembroke, Darwin, and Queens’ colleges will include retail and leisure facilities and is expected to cost in excess of £35 million.

The University has also announced that colleges are seeking to develop a substantial part of the site for graduate student accommodation in order to address the lack of available accommodation in the city for University students.
Plans for redevelopment have been a long time coming.

The Historic Environment Analysis was completed in October 2008, followed by a period of public consultation, which took place between 23 February and 6 April 2009. These discussions resulted in the adoption of a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) at the Environment Scrutiny Committee on 12 January 2010. The SPD set out the City Council’s requirements for the site’s development, including the safeguarding of the “architectural, historic, cultural and archaeological importance of the site, taking advantage of its setting on the river frontage within the historic city centre.”

These public consultations are set to take place later this month, with exhibitions taking place in the Cormack Room at the University Centre on 22 and 23 March. The University Reporter states these consultations “will be supplemented by meetings with members and officers of Cambridge City Council and other local and regional politicians, and with environmental, transport, and architectural heritage groups, and community organisations.”

Subject to approval by the University and colleges, the master plan for the redeveloped site is expected to be finalised later this year. The University has already approved the grant to Pembroke College of a long lease for Kenmare House, Stuart House, and 4 Mill Lane. Meanwhile, the approval of Regent House will be sought for the further divestment of land and buildings, as well as for the construction or demolition of individual University buildings and additional works on the site.

An additional 150 student rooms will be built for Pembroke students as a result of the redevelopment and there are also proposals for an auditorium as well as a number of meeting and teaching spaces. The redevelopment is expected to be completed in 2021/22, with the completion of the Ray and Dagmar Dolby Court – named after Pembroke alum and his wife who bequeathed £35 million to the college in his will.


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Mill Lane is the location of a number of departments, lecture theatres, and other university buildings including the Faculty of Biology, Graduate Union, and the University Centre. 

In a statement, the University said: "The Mill Lane lecture block will continue to be used in the short-term and we are working on plans for the continuing provision of modern and flexible teaching spaces suitable for a world class University. The University will work with the local community to ensure that the impact of the future works is minimized."

This redevelopment is a part of a wider move by the University and Council to alleviate overcrowding and rising land prices in the city with the £350 million investment by the University on the North West Cambridge Development (Eddington) eventually planned to result in 3,000 homes, accommodation for 2,000 postgraduate students and 100,000 m2 of research facilities. Girton College have already opened accommodation of their own at Eddington, with Swirles Court housing 325 students.

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