The North West Cambridge Development is celebrating a year of milestones which saw the opening of Eddington, Cambridge’s newest district.

Work on the first phase of the North West Cambridge Development has achieved major milestones in 2017 which have supported the start of a new residential community at Eddington. The first phase comprises 700 homes for key University staff, a post-graduate student complex for 325 students, and facilities to support the local community, including the community centre, primary school, supermarket, shop, parklands, play areas and sports fields, as well as infrastructure to support connectivity for the development.

The centre of the development, called Eddington, focuses on the delivery of housing and community facilities as a priority to meet the housing supply shortage in Cambridge, and to establish a sense of place and community spirit as soon as residents arrived. 

Highlights from this year include:

This £350 million investment by the University of Cambridge is unprecedented in its scale and ambition. The project seeks to support the University’s status as a leading academic and research institution on a global stage by providing affordable accommodation in a new community to enable it to attract and retain the best staff from around the world.

Heather Topel, Project Director for the North West Cambridge Development, said: “This year marks a sea change in the history of the project with the arrival of the first residents who will call Eddington ‘home’ and the opening of this new part of Cambridge to the wider community.

“Realising the University’s long-term vision for this project is a team effort with extensive collaboration and dialogue taking place around the University and with local stakeholder groups and the local authorities. We hope that Eddington will be recognised in Cambridge and beyond as a highly sustainable new place.”

Lisa Salloway

Lisa Salloway

Establishing the Community

2017 has seen the start of the residential community at the North West Cambridge Development, with a population of over 500 people calling Eddington ‘home’, including over 300 post-graduate students and approximately 200 residents living in the University key worker housing.

The first residents are University key workers who are living in the affordable housing on the development with their rent capped at a third of their household income. The first buildings to be lived in are made up of 119 one and two-bedroom apartments.

One of the first residents of Eddington is Lisa Salloway, a 44-year-old administrator for the University, who was “totally unable” to afford to live in Cambridge.

Lisa commented: “Moving to Eddington is the first time I’ve actually lived on my own, as I’ve always lived in shared houses. Having everything in your home in terms of amenities makes a huge difference. Even if I could afford to get a place, I’d have to buy all of that, which I don’t have to here. I like the way that Eddington is for everyone.”

The community is supported by the University of Cambridge Primary School, which opened in September 2015, as well as the Sainsbury’s supermarket and the Postdoc Centre which opened this year. A community event was held in September as part of the University’s Open Cambridge festival which saw 4000 attend tours and talks in the first weekend that Eddington was open to the public.

2018 will see an additional 500 homes available for University key workers move into Eddington, as well as the opening of the Storey’s Field Centre, Eddington Nursery, and local shops to support every-day living.

Helping people to lead more sustainable lives

The aspirations for the North West Cambridge Development to help people lead more sustainable lives are evident in the infrastructure delivered as part of the first phase.

Residents are using Cambridge’s first District Heating System which is powered by an Energy Centre at the heart of the development, which is a central boiler pumping hot water directly to people’s homes to use. This system provides energy efficiencies across the development and means that homes do not have individual boilers.

The UK’s largest underground bin system has also been commissioned at Eddington which means residents do not have individual wheelie bins. Instead residents take their waste and mixed recycling to sleek steel bin chutes set into the pavement outside their homes. The local authorities’ shared waste service began its operation in the Summer.

Extensive travel planning and infrastructure for cyclists, pedestrians and bus users is also in place to encourage sustainable journeys. There are now almost 900m of dedicated cycle routes, including the Ridgeway, a cycle and pedestrian only route which links Girton to Storey’s Way, as well as a network for commuting and recreational use.

Eddington is also the terminus for the Universal bus service which connects to the West Cambridge site, City Centre, Railway Station and Addenbrooke’s. Its patronage has increased by 49% in its first year in operation under Whippet coaches and is subsidised by the University.

New parklands and lakes are recreational areas for the community but also form the largest rainwater harvesting system in the country. The development includes a Sustainable Urban Drainage System which channels rainwater through green corridors, before it is collected in lakes and treated and pumped back into the system to be used by residents for flushing toilets and washing machines. This will help to cut the water consumption of residents on site by around 45% of the Cambridge average from 150 litres per person per day (lpd), to 80 lpd.

The wetlands also seek to encourage biodiversity to the area with the lakes, wet grasslands, woodland planting and new orchards. Ecological enhancements have also been made across the built environment, including two dedicated bat roosts within new buildings with multiple features in each facility, and over 250 new bird nest sites to encourage species including swifts, house sparrows and starlings.

These initiatives alongside highly sustainable homes which include triple insulated apartments and solar panels, help residents to live low-carbon lives and set new benchmarks in sustainable living.

AJ Architecture Awards 2017_Masterplan

Winning the Masterplan of the Year award at the Architects’ Journal Architecture of the Year Awards

Creating a place of high quality

The University’s commitment to building a long-lasting place at the North West Cambridge Development is evident when walking around Eddington.

The development won the Masterplan of the Year award at the inaugural Architects’ Journal Architecture Awards in December 2017; the judges highlighted the “a utopian oasis feel” of the development in appreciation of the open spaces, as well as a special member of the Primary School.

In addition, further accolades for the project from this year include:

  • A RIBA East Award and Shortlist for the Civic Trust Awards for the University of Cambridge Primary School designed by Marks Barfield Architects
  • Recognition for the water management scheme at the Utility Week and edie Sustainability Leadership awards in partnership with Cambridge Water
  • Craftmanship recognition at the Brick Awards for Swirles Court, designed by R H Partnership
  • Regular positive feedback from visitors and in the media

Looking ahead

The focus for 2018 will see the completion of the University’s key worker housing, including 700 homes occupied.

Hill Residential are building the first homes for sale, and it is expected people will move into those homes in Summer 2018.

The Storey’s Field Centre will open in early 2018 with a varied programme of community engagement events and cultural programme. The first gig by the Pale Waves takes place in February, and the first weddings have also been booked for Spring.

Additional community facilities at Eddington will also be made publicly available including the Eddington Nursery, local shops and the sports pitches next year.

The University is preparing the business case for Phase 2, which will deliver the infrastructure to support and enhance the growing residential community. Permission will be sought from through the University governance process and the local authorities on the detail of the designs.