The city council endorsed the proposal, stipulating that the college must finish the renovation within a three-year timeframe.LOUIS ASHWORTH

St John’s College has been permitted by the council to turn a set of Victorian villas into postgraduate apartments.

This comes amid concerns about the availability of postgraduate accommodation.

In November 2023, St John’s submitted a proposal to the city council, asking permission to turn two college-owned properties on Madingley Road—12 and 12A—into nine self-contained student apartments.

These Victorian and Edwardian era buildings, built in 1888 and 1911, will now be outfitted with modern appliances, including internal doorways, windows, and CCTV cameras. The fruit store nearby will also be turned into cycle parking and a plant room, Cambridgeshire Live reports.

This renovation calls for repairs to the structures, including recovering roofs, extending the buildings’ longevity, and switching out rotten timbers. It also involves the “careful” removal of roosting bats in both 12 and 12A, the proposal states.

This project will provide housing that is close to the college and will be located within walking and biking distance from the city centre and University facilities.

The proposal’s goal is to furnish students with “higher-quality student accommodation which better meets the needs of postgraduate students”.

Given the buildings’ historical context, the Victorian Society (an organisation seeking to “ preserve Victorian and Edwardian architecture and encourage research into the art and history of the period”) has opposed some of the project’s features. In particular, the society expressed worries over the project’s stated overhaul of the internal insulation and the spoliation of windows.

But on 22 February, the city council approved the proposal, subjecting the college to complete the renovation in three years. It also required that no heavy machinery work falls outside 08:00 to 18:00 on weekdays and 08:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays. It has also forbidden work on Sundays and bank and public holidays unless the Local Planning Authority grants exceptions.


Mountain View

Lucy Cav fails to repair John’s-owned accommodation

The college has also been asked to submit details on the CCTV installation, including their locations, the dimensions of external cables, descriptions of any other security measures, and any alterations to the brickworks.

The council also prohibited students from moving in until the accommodations meet the carbon reduction strategy of the Carbon, Energy and Water Efficiency Report.

As for the bats, no tree work can start until the college gets a licence from Natural England. Alternatively, the council requested a declaration from the relevant licensing authority confirming that the particular work applied for does not require a licence.