Cambridge Marque 'Doesn't Live Up To Expectations'

An independent report into the planning process around the controversial Marque building on the corner of Cherry Hinton Road and Hills Road in Cambridge shows the council 'largely followed correct procedures'.

That's despite the finished building 'not living up to expectations.'

The report, which was produced by independent planning advisor, Barry Shaw, will be presented to Cambridge City Council's Planning Committee next week (4 March).

The Marque development had a novel design that was passed between a number of contractors over a period of six years. The planning history was complicated with requests for changes to the original design ideas spanning a number of years.

Completed in 2013 the final structure is in a prominent city location and has attracted very mixed reviews.

Mr Shaw's review looked at understanding the circumstances around the construction of the scheme and whether there are lessons to be learned from the process.

The report concludes that the council largely followed the correct procedures in its assessment, determination and post-application procedures for The Marque.

It recognises that the finished design does not live up to expectations and this is partly due to the conceptual nature of the scheme that was approved at the outset.

One element of the proposed design, a screen on the central section of The Marque, posed major challenges for the developers when translating the concept design into a buildable structure.

The report says this particular development is a one-off and that there are no underlying problems with the council's handling of major planning applications.  

It also offers some pointers on how specific risks could be managed and undesirable outcomes avoided for future major planning applications.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: "The council is committed to learning lessons from The Marque.

"We will review the extensive detail and analysis in the independent report and its conclusions. We also look forward to the full discussion on the report at Planning Committee next week.

"Our local communities rightly expect us to achieve consistently high standards of design. We have made changes to the independent design and conservation panel that advises us and we continue to value its input and recognise the important role the panel plays.

"We need to ensure in the future that completed developments match the promises made when projects commence, particularly for large buildings and prominent sites.

"That means getting things right at the beginning, during the often protracted periods in the middle, and at the end of development projects."

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