Plans for the Beehive Centre have today been unveiled.

Railpen, one of the largest pension managers in the UK, first submitted plans last year, including proposals for new retail, leisure, and community space, as well as laboratory and workspace and green public spaces. However, following a public consultation on the plans, Railpen has taken feedback on board and modified the designs.

Matthew Howard, Head of Property at Railpen, explained:

“The feedback on our original proposals was clear: most people did not object to the idea of redeveloping the Beehive Centre but felt we could make further changes to improve the proposals.

“We have listened very carefully to the feedback from all parties and worked over a considerable period of time to ensure we respond and make changes. This includes reducing the size of the proposed buildings as much as possible without compromising the feasibility of the scheme.

“We are still listening, and we are going back out to talk to residents to explain the changes before we submit a revised planning application.”

The revised plans now feature:

  • A new public park roughly the same size of St Matthew’s Piece. Hive Park will be a south facing open lawn with cafés and restaurants lining it.
  • There will be more trees than before with 275 to be planted. More of the existing trees will also be retained.
  • There will be reduced height and massing of a number of buildings and adjusted building footprints and locations to increase separation distances between buildings and our neighbours.
  • There will now also be more distance between the site and immediate neighbours on Silverwood Close, York Street, Rope Walk and St Matthew’s Gardens.
  • Another feature of the revised plans is a new direct cycle / pedestrian route to improve connectivity through the site and to support Phase 2 of the Chisholm Trail.
  • Around 20 new shops and leisure facilities, including a small supermarket and gym.
  • Coldham’s Lane Roundabout will be upgraded, with the introduction of a new four-way junction separating pedestrians and cyclists from motor traffic, reducing the possibility of collisions or conflict.
  • An Urban Greening Factor measurement to evaluate the quality and quantity of the green space provided. More commonly used in London, the measurement will, in combination with carefully selected building materials, ensure the proposals help reduce urban temperatures.

The development will also fund an additional 15 public buses per hour with a service extension to the train station, a new service to Milton Park & Ride, as well as new direct services to Cambourne and St Neots, Huntington and St Ives, Ely and Waterbeach. More than 4,200 cycle parking spaces will be created, and 460 car parking spaces – a third of which will provide electric vehicle (EV) charging.

The proposals will continue to bring much-needed social infrastructure to the area, including a youth facility, a new educational hub and ‘Makers Lab’, new skateboarding and roller-skating space and events space.

Once complete, the Beehive Centre will be home to more than 6,000 jobs, with over 2,000 of these requiring no specialist qualifications. A pioneering employment and skills plan is being developed in partnership with a wide network of community organisations to help local residents overcome barriers to employment and gain sustainable, well-paid work.

Matthew Howard added:

“There is still lots of work to do but we have always believed that a redeveloped Beehive Centre will benefit residents, workers and visitors – from more jobs in the neighbourhood and a varied mix of shops, restaurants, cafés, leisure and community spaces to significantly improved public transport provision and now a new public park.”

A drop-in public consultation event is being held at the former SCS Unit (next to Coldham’s Lane) on Cambridge Retail Park on Wednesday 17 July (12pm to 4pm) and Thursday 18 July (4pm to 7.30pm), where people can talk to the project team, and leave feedback to contribute to the design process.

An online webinar will be held on Friday 19 July, from 12pm, where the development team will be on hand to discuss the proposals. To register for the webinar or for more information, click here.