Planning application 104-112 Hills Road

Planning application 104 – 112 Hills Road 20/03429/FUL
Betjeman House site and Flying Pig pub deadline for comments midnight Friday 25th Sept 2020

This is a key Cambridge site. The Flying Pig pub campaigner Luke Nashaat has listed Cambridge Local Plan(2018) policies he believes the application contravenes and asks for support. The deadline for objecting to the application is is midnight, Friday, 25 September,2020 His comments are set out below:

Policy 21 – Station Area West 2 – This is the Betjeman House site. It is meant to have been masterplanned, and any new application for this site must be based on that masterplan. The council has to organise this, not the developer. The community have been denied a meaningful say in the type, scale, scale, massing, etc. of the new proposals, despite developer claims to have consulted thoroughly. Lots of documentation has been produced after it became clear this wasn’t going to be let go: for example a whole load of alternative designs have been hastily produced (to apparently comply with EIA legislation, But none of the public have been shown them at any consultation. All the information now available appears compliant with requirements, but have not been subject to due scrutiny at the appropriate moment.

Policy 76 – Pub Protection Policy – granting any permission affecting a safeguarded pub is conditional on it being demonstrated that the viability of the pub will not be adversely affected, and that  ‘the loss including associated development will not detract from the prevailing character and appearance of the area, including where the building is of merit or has any distinctive architectural features.’

  • Further on in the supporting text to Policy 76:

‘It is important that public houses are not lost due to deliberate neglect, in particular those of heritage value. In cases where a planning application concerns a heritage asset and there is evidence of deliberate neglect or  damage, the deteriorated state of the heritage asset will not be taken into account in any planning decision.’

Queen Edith’s Councillor Colin McGerty similarly reiterates in his objection ‘that the application is inconsistent with Policy 76 of the Cambridge Local Plan 2018, Protection of public houses’.

‘The Flying Pig public house, which sits within the proposed development and is listed on page 300 of the local plan as a protected public house will be lost as a much valued, vibrant and viable local business if the development is allowed to go ahead as currently proposed. None of the tests in sections a. – c. on page 223 of the local plan are met as this is a busy, viable business which is greatly valued by the local community. Furthermore, neither test d. or e. is met which would justify “The loss of any part of a public house, or its curtilage” as is the case with this application, which proposes to demolish the rear section of the building including the pool room and remove the private outdoor space. This would mean that the viability of the business is seriously undermined as a viable freehold enterprise. Also, the integration of the pub so tightly into such a huge office block would greatly detract from prevailing character of the area, which is noted for its traditional, friendly and old fashioned pub style. It should be noted that both tests d. and e. must be met for any development to proceed but it is clear that neither test is met’.

Luke Nashaat adds: ‘I assume that such a huge development will go to the planning committee for consideration and I urge you to recommend they reject the application until such time that it is demonstrated that the Flying Pig public house can remain open as traditional, freehold family enterprise with live music and adequate live-in accommodation which can continue to serve it’s community as it has done since 1840.

Policy 61 –  Conservation and enhancement of Cambridge’s historic environment ‘To ensure the conservation and enhancement of Cambridge’s historic environment, proposals should: a. preserve or enhance the significance of the heritage assets of the city, their setting and the wider townscape, including views into, within and out of conservation areas; b. retain buildings and spaces, the loss of which would cause harm to the character or appearance of the conservation area; c. be of an appropriate scale, form, height, massing, alignment and detailed design which will contribute to local distinctiveness, complement the built form and scale of heritage assets and respect the character, appearance and setting of the locality; d. demonstrate a clear understanding of the significance of the asset and of the wider context in which the heritage asset sits, alongside assessment of the potential impact of the development on the heritage asset and its context; and e. provide clear justification for any works that would lead to harm or substantial harm to a heritage asset yet be of substantial public benefit, through detailed analysis of the asset and the proposal.’

The history of the site is incomplete (which is not to slight the histories set out thus far.) There is substantial new information as a result of over two years sporadic research into the Flying Pig building, and the wider site.

  • Re: the ‘substantial public benefit’ required above : an extract from the economic benefits Statement from Savills (page 3) : ‘The current Coronavirus crisis will have a major impact on demand and values in the short to medium term. Our analysis presented in this report was prepared before the Coronavirus crisis hit the UK. The analysis and conclusions should be considered as potentially relevant to the situation once the UK economy has recovered from the most significant impacts of Coronavirus. However it is too early to estimate how the crisis will impact on trends, and for example how strong the rebound will be and to what degree there is a change in the composition of demand and activities in the post Coronavirus crisis world. Given the strength of the Cambridge economy we expect Cambridge to be at the front of the recovery. Our findings should be kept under review as the situation evolves.’ So, the assessment of economic benefits is, by the authors own admission, out of date.
  • Covid impact on office demand This application ignores Covid’s impact on office demand: even prior to Covid, there’s mounting academic research that as a building type, open-plan offices are detrimental to the wellbeing of the occupants and bad for productivity. Covid has substantiated that research


Policy 55 – responding to context – ‘ ‘Development will be supported where it is demonstrated that it responds positively to its context and has drawn inspiration from the key characteristics of its surroundings to help create distinctive and high quality places. Development will: a. identify and respond positively to existing features of natural, historic or local importance on and close to the proposed development site; b. be well connected to, and integrated with, the immediate locality and wider city; and c. use appropriate local characteristics to help inform the use, siting, massing, scale, form, materials and landscape design of new development.’ – This proposal fails most of those tests.


Policy 58 – Altering and extending existing buildings ‘Alterations and extensions to existing buildings will be permitted where they: a. do not adversely impact on the setting, character or appearance of listed buildings or the appearance of conservation areas, local heritage assets, open spaces, trees or important wildlife features;  b. reflect, or successfully contrast with, the existing building form, use of materials and architectural detailing while ensuring that proposals are sympathetic to the existing building and surrounding area; c. ensure that proposals for doors and windows, including dormer windows, are of a size and design that respects the character and proportions of the original building and surrounding context; d. create altered or new roof profiles that are sympathetic to the existing building and surrounding area and are in keeping with the requirements of Appendix E (Roof extensions design guide); e. do not unacceptably overlook, overshadow or visually dominate neighbouring properties; f. respect the space between buildings where this contributes to the character of an area; and g. retain sufficient amenity space, bin storage, vehicle access and cycle and car parking.’

Policy 62 – Local Heritage Assets –  ‘The Council will actively seek the retention of local heritage assets, including buildings, structures, features and gardens of local interest as detailed in the Council’s local list and as assessed against the criteria set out in Appendix G of the plan. Where permission is required, proposals will be permitted where they retain the significance, appearance, character or setting of a local heritage asset. Where an application for any works would lead to harm or substantial harm to a non-designated heritage asset, a balanced judgement will be made having regard to the scale of any harm or loss and the significance of the heritage asset.’

Luke adds : This is without correcting errors that have not been picked up because the site hasn’t been masterplanned.

I (Luke) question the justifications given in advance of the application being submitted for that not having been done: I question that the extant permission can be implemented in full without requiring relevant consent to demolish an unlisted building in a Conservation Area (Conservation Area Consent, as was). That is a planning application, which requires the site to have been masterplanned. I was told the developer has a legal opinion on the matter but was refused sight of it. A footnote in the Planning Statement by Bidwells (page 11) states there is ‘extensive caselaw that the designation of a site within a conservation area cannot apply retrospectively.’ These evidences now need to be produced.
I also question the validity of the extant permission: the description of the proposal misleadingly states: ‘including retention of ‘Flying Pig’ Public House’. The council and developer claim that meant ‘the facade’. The extant permission sees the entire building demolished, including the facade, which is then rebuilt further back from the road than it currently is. That means the publicity notices advertising the application (06/0552/FUL) were ‘recklessly misleading’ (in my opinion), which is an offence under Section 65 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990

  • I don’t believe the cumulative impacts of some of the other developments that will occur , for example along Station Road have been adequately assessed in the EIA process, I think because actual permissions haven’ yet been granted, even though they are under the auspices of the Station Area masterplan (I need to check that)
  • There’s much more. and that’s before correcting factual inaccuracies that would have been picked up on the masterplanning process.

Luke asks: Please forward to all who may be concerned and ask them to write to object and copy to members of the planning committee


Wendy Blythe

Chair, FeCRA

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2 Responses

  1. Máirín Lennon says:

    It makes no sence knocking down pool room & removing the open garden space . UNLESS YOU ARE GOING TO IMPROVE THEM BOTH .

  1. 23 September 2020

    […] Planning application 104-112 Hills Road […]

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