Trinity Investment Management (not connected to Trinity College) acquired the Grafton Centre in 2022, and are now consulting on changes to the centre that keeps a smaller number of shops, retains the gym and cinema, but converts much of the building into laboratories for science research.
The proposals include:
Reducing the number of shops to reflect the growing number of empty units at the centre – but retaining some retail and leisure, including the cinema and gym, alongside improved public spaces around the centre
Improving the connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians, restoring some of the historic connections that were blocked when the Grafton Centre was built
Repurposing as much of the existing structure as possible – to limit disruption to neighbours and minimise the amount of carbon-intensive demolition and construction
Delivering much-needed research space for promising science start-ups – a sector which is growing and needs more lab space across the city
Whilst this post is open for comments, and readers are welcome to debate the issues around the proposed development, this does not guarantee thatTrinity Investment Management will be able to engage with them on this platform.
In June 2022 we held our first stage consultation on our proposals for The Beehive Centre at which we outlined our principles for development and asked for the local communities input to create a scheme that brings social value and tangible benefits to the local area and Cambridge.
The consultation was well attended and we heard and captured a wealth of insights and ideas from local people about what you value about The Beehive Centre today, and what you would like to see in the future. This feedback has informed our updated proposals which we are ready to show you at our upcoming consultation.
We strive to work with the people of Cambridge to reimagine a key strategic site, embracing sustainable and inclusive design through a vision to the creation of a new local centre with accessible, green and useable spaces to strengthen Cambridge’s status at the forefront of the science, technology and innovation sector.
four communications on behalf of Railpen
Thursday 24th November – 2:30pm to 6:30pm Friday 25th November – 2:30pm to 7:30pm St Barnabas Centre, (Old Schoolroom) St Barnabas Church, Mill Road, Cambridge CB1 2BD No prior booking required.
The digital consultation webinar will take place on Wednesday 23rd November – 6:00pm to 7:00pm
To register your interest for the digital consultation, the QR code on the PDF can be captured with your smartphone/tablet. Otherwise it resolves to: https://qrcodes.pro/nPGeLI.
Many of you will be aware that Railpen, who invest the Railways Pension Schemes’ assets, will be redeveloping the Travis Perkins site adjacent to Devonshire Road for long-term tenanted residential accommodation, and that, whilst this has been broadly welcomed by the community, some of the details of Rail Pen’s initial plans were felt to be in need of improvement. Of course, this is an entirely different project to the Beehive Centre, but we’ve referenced it to give context on Rail Pen.
Whilst this post is open for comments, and readers are welcome to debate the issues around the proposed development, this does not guarantee that four communications or Railpen will be able to engage with them on this platform.
It’s down to all of you, in the Mill Road community: if you would like to help local activists in their quest to put together a community bid for the former Mill Road Library, email email@example.com.
On Wednesday 10th August 2022, local community groups received notice from Cambridge City Council that Cambridgeshire County Council intend to sell the former Mill Road Library building.
City Councillor Mike Davey (Petersfield ward) convened a meeting on Wednesday 7th September 2022 which was attended by over 100 local people.
The Grade II listed building, where community and cultural activities have always taken place, is on the City Council’s list of ‘Assets of Community value’ detailing buildings or land which are felt to provide an important service to their community.
More discussion will need to take place, but two local community groups have registered an interest in making a community bid under the Community Right to Bid rules, which means that it cannot be sold until February 2023, to give the local community a chance to compete with commercial groups. There is much work to be done to make this project succeed but also a large number of people eager to make it happen.
Many suggestions for how the old library could serve the community were mooted at the 7th September meeting. There was also warm welcome for the new Mill Road Community Centre which will be opening soon, on the Ironworks (former Mill Road depot) development and a determination that the two centres should work in close conjunction.
Suggested uses for the old library included:
an arts cinema, theatre, and venue for local musicians and literary activities
an art gallery and exhibition space focussing on local artists
a cultural space for Community Arts
a venue for the Cambridge Literary Festival
Speaking later to Mill Road Bridges, Piero d’Angelico, Mill Road Traders’ Association Ambassador, saw the old library project as analogous to running a business: “As a trader, I know what my outgoings are, and how much business I must do in order to cover my costs and make a living.” D’Angelico stressed that finding uses which generate a reliable income stream will be key to mounting a successful bid.
It is worthwhile noting that Mill Road Fringe – an offshoot of Mill Road Winter Fair – will showed three films in September 2022. However, as these were free, they wouldn’t pay the bills!
Jordana Learmonthe from Cambridge Art Salon, a hub of local artists, has written to Councillor Davey to pledge the Salon’s support by committing to use the exhibition space, if the facility is provided, and thus some rental income will be ensured.
Another commentator was in touch with Mill Road Bridges to suggest that the building be divided into two floors, with one floor being rented out to an organisation, or to small firms, that can pay a market rent. That could leave the other floor for any community-related functions that complement the new facilities being built, rather than competing.
A number of attendees observed that a brand new, purpose-built community centre, immediately behind the old library, is scheduled to open late this year, seeing it as essential that activities pursued in the old library building be complementary to the new community centre, providing a different type of activity. The general feeling at the meeting seemed to support this aim.
John Franks, Chair of Petersfield Area Community Trust, told Mill Road Bridges, “Using the old library as a generic community centre won’t pay the bills; we have a really good purpose-built one next door!”
Asked if there is now a clear plan, Franks told us, “It’s more the case that people are still open and looking for other ideas.”
It’s complicated… Here’s the view of local historian, blogger, and former civil servant, Antony Carpen.
I’m not going to go into the party political issues. I imagine this would have been a very tough negotiation between members of the [County Council’s] Joint Administration. I can’t believe that Labour councillors would have wanted the building to be sold off if there wasn’t a hope of putting together a bid for community ownership. But ultimately the past 12 years of central government austerity has meant councils across the country have had to take similar decisions because ministers and Parliament have not given them powers to raise revenues through much wider means.
Mill Road Library, most recently in use as a Hindu temple, and now to be sold by Cambridgeshire County Council, was opened on Wednesday 2nd June 1897, by the Cambridge City Council. The library passed to the County Council’s control when all of England’s local government was reorganised in the 1970s, finally closing in March 1996.
In 1998 the Indian Community and Cultural Association became the new tenants, and erected some beautiful carved stonework inside. However, all was not well…
The Indian community organisation that took over the library were granted a 25 year full repairing lease on a peppercorn rent in exchange for maintaining the building fabric. This building which is grade 2 listed was considered a financial liability to the County so this was seen as a zero cost way of maintaining the structure.
Unfortunately the lessees did not spend any money on external maintenance in 10 years allowing water to enter the building and cause extensive damage. The City Council which is responsible in law to ensure listed buildings do not fall into disrepair served notice on the County Council about the deteriorating state and the County sent in surveyors who […] estimated the repairs to be in the region of £300,000.
This blogpost is open for comments but, if you are able to help, getting in touch with the Mill Road community’s activists to help in their quest to put together a community bid for the former Mill Road Library is much more important. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Wednesday 10th August 2022, local community groups received notice from Cambridge City Council that Cambridgeshire County Council intend to sell the former Mill Road Library building. Full text of this letter is shown below.
Dear community group,
I am writing to advise you that the owner of the former Library, Mill Road Cambridge, has notified us of their intent to sell the property. This property is on a list of ‘Assets of Community value’ which is kept by the City Council. This list has all of the details of buildings or land which are felt to provide an important service to their community and as such, if they are sold, community groups should have an opportunity to raise the funds to purchase the asset. You can see the full list of Assets of Community Value here: Community Right to Bid scheme – Cambridge City Council
The owner of the former library cannot sell the building for a period of 6 weeks from the date they notified us of their intention to dispose of the property. This is called the ‘interim moratorium period’. The interim moratorium will end on Friday 16th September 2022. You are advised that should your community group wish to be treated as a potential bidder for the asset you must notify us of your intent within this period, at which point we will inform the owner.
If you do wish to be treated as a potential bidder you will have until Sunday 5th February 2023 in which to develop a proposal and raise the money required to bid to buy the asset, so long as you have notified us before 16th September. Please note that the owner can sell to whomever they wish – this process is simply to allow community groups time to consider whether they wish to bid and if so, to have time to raise the funds for the purchase.
You should be aware that in order to be treated as a potential bidder, interested parties must qualify as a community interest group by a) having a local connection with the land, and b) falling within one or more of the following definitions;
a company limited by guarantee that does not distribute any surplus to its members;
an industrial and provident society which does not distribute any surplus to its members and is registered or deemed to be registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965; or
a community interest company.
There is some useful guidance on whether a body qualifies as a charity here:
Amongst groups to receive the letter were Petersfield Area Community Trust whose chair posted:
We are disappointed that the building is being sold, as we hoped the County Council would find a new community use for this historic building on a lease that kept it within public ownership. However, this process gives community groups a chance to assemble a bid, and we would love to hear from any group who would like to do that. Cambridge City Council manages this process for any community asset in Cambridge, so we or any eligible group have until Friday 16th September to advise them if a group would like to take this opportunity. Giving the City Council a notification of an intent to bid would cause a moratorium on the sale until Sunday 5th February 2023, in order to give the group the chance to assemble the bid, although this is still a tough goal in just six months. We are sure there would be huge community support for an effort to buy the building, and its location just behind the new Mill Road Community Centre may provide new opportunities for community collaboration. PACT would be happy to hear from any group which is not sure of their own eligibility to trigger the moratorium.
John Franks, Chair of Petersfield Area Community Trust Read the full Petersfield Area Community Trust news release here.
If you would like to help Petersfield Area Community Trust in their quest to put together a community bid for the former Mill Road Library, email info@PACTcambridge.org.
Local historian Antony Carpen, blogging as Cambridge Town Owl, posted on Friday 12th August 2022, in support of Petersfield Area Community Trust, giving some of the background to the library, and its recent travails.