Great Kneighton and the aura of Cambridge

Great Kneighton and the aura of Cambridge

Visitors arriving in Cambridge from the south will have noticed the city’s skyline has changed dramatically in recent years.

Alongside the new buildings at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, the Great Kneighton site at Trumpington is being developed into 2,300 homes with a secondary school, shops and other community facilities next door to a 120-acre park which sits within a wildlife corridor.

Architecture practice TateHindle has designed more than 600 homes in six of the 20 land parcels made available by developer Countryside. It has been responsible for a collection to the north of the site called Aura.

The firm’s design director Mike Jamieson says the scheme has been designed with the creativity and originality he believes have been a hallmark of Cambridge since the city’s technology growth in the 1980s first drove and increased demand for homes and infrastructure

Jamieson said: “The big plus for the community at Great Kneighton is the 120-acre park directly to the east. It was Greenbelt but it was inaccessible scrubland. In terms of planning gain it was a significant move.

“It creates this fantastic new park for Cambridge that sits between the bio- medical campus, Addenbrooke’s and Papworth hospitals and the homes.”

The former farmland was originally owned by the Pemberton family and its history and character had to be considered. Specially commissioned pieces of art and new street names throughout the scheme all have local relevance.

The range of property is varied and includes 40 per cent affordable housing. Transport connections are good, with the guided bus service and pedestrian and cycle routes offering direct access between Great Kneighton via its central hub at Hobson’s Square and the city centre, and, while not openly discouraged, car use has a low profile.

Jamieson explained: “We needed
 to create an appropriate response that would not only sit within the outline consent but also respond to the nature and character of Cambridge.”

The result, Jamieson says, is contemporary and sustainable living space with properties from one-bedroom apartments to five-bedroom detached homes. Many of the apartments are up to 10 per cent bigger than similar properties in the city centre.

Designs are geared to offer the best views and maximise daylight, and
 in most cases living areas are on the first floor to enable discrete parking and create extensive views over the landscape.

Outside areas are designed to soften the impact of the car. Kerbs are just 25mm high to blur the edges between roads and pavements, and block paving is often used. Many surfaces allow rainwater to evaporate or drain to an abundance of water features and a pond to ease pressure on the drainage system.

As sustainability was a priority, all homes are provided with smart meters while some also have PV panels.

Jamieson added that it is hoped the mix of homes will encourage a more diverse community to develop.

He said: “One of the real benefits of Aura is the variety offered which can appeal to all sections of the market from first time buyers to a growing family. A good example is the Aura Building which seems to be popular with young professionals, families as well as the over-55s.”

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