What amenities will be available for the local community and families?

Our proposals were designed following three rounds of consultation with the local community from 2020-22. Over 3,000 local residents responded, in total, to our public consultation. We have also welcomed feedback and support from local community organisations, including the Mill Road Traders’ Association, YMCA Trinity, Allia, Indie Cambridge, Cambridge Community Arts, Cambridge Muslim Trust and Cambridge Sustainable Food.

Around half the 3-acre site will be dedicated new public open space. A community pavilion will form the centre-piece and will be shaped by a local design competition following planning permission.

Residents, alongside workers and the existing local community will be able to enjoy a substantial greening of this brownfield site, with a huge 350% increase in Biodiversity Net Gain. This includes:

  • 4 sunny grass lawns
  • 5 Green roofs
  • 30 raised planters for edible planting such as herbs & vegetables, working with Cambridge Sustainable Food to help produce food for the community and local wildlife, in addition to educational and social opportunities
  • 6 proposed edible trees being planted with species including Crab Apple ‘Everest’
  • 11 evergreen planters
  • 11 ornamental planting beds featuring flowers voted upon by local residents in 2021
  • 13 Raingarden beds with wild flowers
  • Hedgehog habitats, bat and bird boxes
  • Sustainable garden infrastructure with a social impact, to be commissioned by Phoenix Trust

Furthermore, there is an extensive ground floor featuring new community amenities for all, such as:

  • Dedicated children’s nursery/creche with outdoor play space
  • Estate Management Office
  • Library of Things
  • Communal Kitchen
  • Creative space / workshop / artists studios
  • Co-working and community meeting space
Are the proposed residential units intended for local people or will they be aimed at those who live outside cambridge?

We are building homes that are available for everyone to live in, but we very much hope that the Devonshire Gardens development will attract people already living in Cambridge and the surrounding area. All these homes will remain under the long-term ownership of Railpen as a professional landlord. There will be comprehensive maintenance, security and upkeep of the buildings.

Access to green space continues to be very popular. Can you share any further detail?

Feedback across all engagement has highlighted the desire from the local community to see large, open green spaces where people can meet and community events can be held. This has been a focus of our design, responding to the community need and opening up the site for all to enjoy.

We will deliver generous and welcoming new public green spaces with an open park at the heart of the scheme. The space will be flexible, able to host community events and activities.  We want to give back public, open space to the community and this central green park will be accessible from a number of entrances, improving pedestrian routes in line with local feedback.

Landscaping for this space will include an extensive tree canopy, interconnected paths throughout the site, a varied planting design and edible landscapes, responding to requests for more trees, and open, grassy areas. Flora and fauna will flourish, as this brownfield site is extensively greened with a new public park, additional plants and trees, bird boxes, bug hotels and other ecological improvements.

The removal of the fence around the existing site – particularly along Devonshire Road – will open up the street, and the setback nature of the residential component facing the Victorian terraced houses will allow the existing width of the pavement to be increased, creating more space for pedestrians and cyclists.

Will there be affordable housing throughout the site?

Yes. In line with national guidance, at least 20% of the homes will be affordable and rent levels will be at least 20% below local market rents. This is also consistent with guidance contained within the Council’s emerging build-to-rent policy.

What is ‘build-to-rent’?

Build-to-rent is a relatively new concept in Cambridge. Homes delivered using this approach are specifically built to be rented rather than sold.

We are building homes that are available for everyone to live in, rather than properties to purchase as investments. Ensuring these homes are available for rent under the long-term ownership of Railpen as the sole professional landlord, supports our commitment to creating a community and complementing the existing character of the local area.

There will be a high level of standards and security of tenure. This includes good quality living spaces for families or individual occupiers, with access to internal and external shared communal facilities, comprehensive maintenance, security and upkeep of the buildings. Other features include:

  • Very low energy bills with smart meters and smart heating systems to take advantage of off-peak, low cost electricity.
  • No service charge. Rents cover this cost, so this is not separately charged.
  • 20% of the homes will be affordable with Discount Market Rents set at least 20% below local market rents. This is also consistent with guidance contained within the Council’s emerging build-to-rent policy.
  • There will be no ‘Poor Doors’ – The Discounted Market Rent units will be tenure blind and pepper potted throughout, with no differentiation in quality and shared access to all services and amenities.
  • Security of Tenure – Tenancies of up to 3 years will be provided to tenants who wish to have that longer-term security, as opposed to the 6-month – 1-year contracts popular within much of the existing Private Rented Sector
When do you envisage these proposals will be built?

We should be in a position to start on site in Q4 2023, which will see it completed around Q4 2025.

What are the next steps for your proposals?

We will engage with the community on a construction management plan and launch a design competition for our planned community pavilion, which we intend to be designed by local people.

Prior to any works starting, we will work with the construction team to draft a construction management plan. We will consult with residents before submitting this to the local authority to approve. This will detail timings for works to start, which roads the construction vehicles can use and how to address any concerns that may arise.

How sustainable will your proposals be?

We will be replacing a private builder’s yard with new homes, offices, a crèche and publicly accessible green open space, delivering significant environmental improvements to Devonshire Road. There will be reduced noise and improved air quality as a result.

Due to the sustainable, central location of the site and its proximity to Mill Road, Cambridge city centre and the railway station, our proposals aim to be largely car-free. We will also be supporting the Chisholm Trail, a new walking and cycling route which will connect Cambridge’s two rail stations and the north and south sections of the Busway cycleway.

In addition, there will be generous provision for cyclists, with parking, both outside for the visiting public and secure facilities within the buildings for tenants, guests and residents. This includes increased cycle storage provision with flexibility to store cargo bikes and e-bikes, as well as charging facilities.

The development will have no fossil fuels on site with an all-electric approach, powered by a combination of extensive, roof-level solar panels and an increasingly decarbonised grid. We are also adopting a fabric-first approach ensuring that the homes and offices are very well insulated in order to reduce energy demand in winter and mitigate the risk of overheating in summer. 

We are members of the UK Green Building Council and Cambridge Clean Tech and we will be engaging with local groups including Cambridge Carbon Footprint and Cambridge Climate Emergency to share ideas, encourage dialogue and promote best practice to businesses, organisations and the local community.

For further information on our sustainability proposals, please view our sustainability and biodiversity pages

Will there be space for pedestrians and cyclists within your development?

Absolutely. We will be seeking to support and integrate the Chisolm Trail into our site, as well as including new walking and cycling routes for this part of Cambridge. There will be generous provision for cyclists, with parking, both outside for the visiting public and secure facilities within the buildings for tenants, guests and residents. This includes increased cycle storage provision with flexibility to store cargo bikes and e-bikes as well as charging facilities.

Space for pedestrians, not only within the site but also along Devonshire Road, will be increased with the set back buildings along Devonshire Road, allowing the introduction of a second, wider pavement, in line with feedback.

How tall will your proposals be?

The heights of the buildings across the site will range from 2 – 5 storeys, although the tallest elements will be significantly set back from Devonshire Road, adjacent to the railway lines.

How will the site be kept safe?

Homes across the site will remain under the long-term ownership of Railpen as a professional landlord, with comprehensive maintenance, security and upkeep of all buildings.

The Applicant will be engaging with the council, police and other local stakeholders on community safety issues to ensure appropriate Secure by Design strategies are in place.

What are your proposals for Parking?

Our sustainable proposals will be relatively car-free with a small number of spaces provided for drop-offs and deliveries, an Electric Vehicle Car Club, site visitors and people with disabilities.

People who live or work in Devonshire Gardens will not be eligible to apply for residential or visitor parking permits in the parking zone. Any permit applications made from anyone with an address within Devonshire Gardens will be denied. This is a legal obligation that we are already committed to.

Devonshire Gardens will also provide 540 secure cycle spaces (including 30 accessible/cargo bike spaces), as well as walking routes to the station and local high streets.

How will homes benefit from natural daylight

All homes will benefit from excellent levels of natural daylight , indoors and outdoors, with a private balcony or garden space. Analysis of the homes demonstrates that 95% of the residential rooms meet the target for levels of natural daylight (using average daylight factor, as recommended by Building Research Establishment). This is high for an urban location, such as Devonshire Road and significantly higher than many other local schemes.

are the homes at risk of overheating?

Our proposals includes enhanced solar shading, excellent insulation, green roofs and mechanical ventilation in order to minimise the risk of overheating. Analysis shows that none of the homes are at risk of overheating, even under a future 2050 climate scenario.

How will your proposals integrate with the Chisholm Trail?

Our plans for Devonshire Gardens support the introduction of the Chisholm Trail and will connect the rail stations and the north and south sections of the Busway cycle path. A 5-metre-wide route running north to south on the eastern boundary of the site allows residents to journey around the city with ease.

How will Trees form part of your proposals?

Trees play a key role in tacking our climate and ecological emergency. That’s why we’re planning to increase the number of existing trees on site by 55%.

There are currently 78 trees on the site. We will replace 16 existing trees, which is absolutely necessary, because they have come to the end of their life (as identified by Cambridge City Council’s Tree Officer).

However, we will be significantly increasing trees by planting 68 new semi-mature trees across the site, boosting local biodiversity.

How will waste be collected and recycled?

Residents will have access to local food waste collection and on-site composters for organic fertiliser.

Refuse and recycling collections for all homes will be via bins located in secure stores, which will be accessed by the refuse collectors. No bins will be left on the streets.

Is there any potential for overlooking of surrounding properties?

Any potential for overlooking onto existing Devonshire Road properties will be substantially minimised by the extensive tree coverage planned along Devonshire Road. This includes those retained trees and new trees which will be planted. Furthermore, the new proposed properties will be stepped back significantly from the current fenced-off border of the site, providing further mitigation. Furthermore, the tallest buildings are next to the railway line and will therefore have no impact on neighbouring roads.