The Chancellor of Cambridge University, Lord Sainsbury of Turville, and the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, marked the start of works for the University's 150-hectare mixed-use development at North West Cambridge, the University's largest single capital development project in its 800-year history, in a Ground-breaking ceremony today.


Representatives from the University and Colleges of Cambridge, local authorities, community members, and Project architects and consultants gathered to witness the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor 'turn the first sods' at North West Cambridge. 


The Vice-Chancellor said: "The North West Cambridge site is important for Cambridge, for the UK and internationally. The development enables the University to plan ahead and to provide the environment and facilities that are vital to attracting world-class researchers. Our investment in North West Cambridge is a long-term and deep commitment: the development is a measure of Cambridge's confidence in itself and in its future."


The masterplan was designed to meet the University's long-term growth needs and planning consent was granted for the whole scheme in February 2013. It includes 3,000 homes (50% key-worker housing for University and College staff), 2,000 bedspaces for post-graduate students, 100,000 sqm of research facilities and a local centre with public amenities. 


Roger Taylor, Project Director of North West Cambridge said "This development provides a tremendous opportunity for the University to work with the local authorities to create an urban extension that befits the city of Cambridge. Plans for Phase one look to provide a new high-quality built environment that reflects the existing qualities of the city, through the University working with 12 architectural practices of renown. The commitment from the team is to create an urban environment that will be an exemplar of sustainable living, and one of which the University and wider community can be proud of. It is wonderful to see many of our friends and colleagues here to mark the start the Project."


The focus of the first phase of the development is on the local centre and residential provision, which includes 530 homes for qualifying University and College staff, 400 homes for sale through residential developers, accommodation for 300 post-graduate students, and public amenities including a supermarket, retail units, a primary school, nursery, doctors’ surgery, hotel and police touchdown office, as well as open green space for formal and informal recreation. 


Phase one of the development is estimated to cost some £280 million with the scheme in its entirety estimated to cost £1 billion. The first buildings in Phase one will be completed from late 2015.