Cambridge

Romsey Labour Club saved from becoming student flats

Plans to turn an historic city labour club into student flats have been overturned, despite planning permission having been granted earlier this year.

In March, permission was given to redevelop Romsey Labour Club in Mill Road into 37 one-bed student rooms and a day nursery.

There were more than 100 objections to the proposal, with local councillor Dave Baigent among those questioning the decision, which he said would “destroy” a building that had significant community value.

Today (November 7), however, Cambridge City Councils planning committee reversed the decision after the application was called back in light of a newly adopted local plan for the city.

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Under the new local plan, “speculative” applications for student flats are not favoured. Given the applicants had not secured an agreement with an “established education establishment”, the application was recommended for refusal.

Cllr John Hipkin said: “I am astonished the developer has not been able to secure an under taking from an established educational establishment.”

Cllr Hipkin raised his concern that, should the application be rejected on a “technicality”, it could brought back again under appeal. He said this could end up being costly for the council.

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Cambridge City Council

Cllr Damien Tunnacliffe said he was worried that the council was “moving the goal posts” and that it was “inconsistent” to change a decision retrospectively like this.

Romsey councillor Dave Baigent acknowledged that the committee was “working in a very tight legal situation”, but said the proposals for student flats were very unpopular with the community, who had expressed “anger” about the proposed development.

Petersfield councillor Kelley Green said: “Cambridge is a growing city, but this plan is quite unpopular in the local community.”

Cllr Green also said historic buildings like this ought to be kept for the community.

Katie Thornburrow, who represents Trumpington at the city council, said she was worried about the planned student flats, and expressed her doubts that some of the rooms were accessible for people in wheelchairs.

The committee voted to reject the plans.

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