The news has been criticised by campaigners but will be welcome to some studentsGeograph / David Hallam-Jones (

Controversial accommodation plans by Queens’ College have been approved following an appeal, after the plans were initially rejected in January.

The Owlstone Croft development will create four accommodation blocks, housing 60 postgraduate students, and would require the demolition of a College-owned nursery, which is located next to the Paradise Nature Reserve.

The appeal decision documents, seen by Varsity, state that “the appeal is allowed and planning permission is granted” for the demolition of the nursery building, and for the “erection of four accommodation blocks”.

When the plans were rejected in January, Cambridge City Council expressed concerns over the “excessive height, scale and massing” of the building next to the reserve, the project’s impact on the bat population, and the potential negative effects on the ecological landscape.

Friends of Paradise, a local environmental group, had been campaigning against the development on these grounds, and last year students penned an open letter in opposition to the plans, citing “a significant threat to biodiversity”.

Phillip Mileham, the planning inspector who approved the College’s appeal, found however that the plans would seek to “minimise impacts on and provide net gains for biodiversity”, in line with the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework.

Parents of children at the local school, Newnham Croft Primary, had also expressed concerns during the appeal process. A statement given on behalf of the school’s governors, seen by Varsity, states that the “noise and vibration impacts” of the demolition phase of the proposals could impact on children’s education.

The statement, heard during the appeal process, alleged that “the risks and impacts from air and noise pollution during the development phase have not been adequately recognised or assessed.”

“The risk to children’s health, education and welfare is unacceptable,” the address states.

Mileham’s conditions for the planning permission state that all demolition on the site must take place during school holidays, “in the interests of the health, wellbeing and education of children”.

Emma Munday, a Queens’ student who lived in Owlstone Croft last year and has spoken at planning meetings for the development, told Varsity: “Thank god common sense prevailed!”

“However, whilst today is a victory, we must remember the scale of the housing crisis, which any individual approval will not solve,” they said.

“The real issue is the planning process which enabled wealthy homeowning NIMBYs to drag this process out for a year, at significant cost and difficulty to my college no doubt,” Munday continued.


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Reacting to the approved appeal, Pam Gattrell, Chair of Friends of Paradise, told the Cambridge Independent: “It’s a sad day for Paradise Nature Reserve and for the community and the city, knowing that irrevocable damage will now be done to this unique natural asset. We are just shocked.”

A spokesperson for Queens’ College said that they “welcome” the outcome of the appeal, and labelled the development “an important step in our ongoing efforts to enhance educational facilities and living spaces for students.”

“We now look forward to continuing to collaborate with the City Council, the Newnham community, the Primary School, and local groups in implementing this exciting project. We remain committed to delivering sustainable community-focused homes for our Postgraduates, consistent with providing significant biodiversity benefits and preserving the ecological value of the surrounding area,” they said.