Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No to Bunker Records Centre

The County Council has been looking for a site for its public access County Records centre. I had suggested the former nuclear bunker off Brooklands Avenue. Sadly, it appears the answer is no - just had this back from the County Council:

"Thank you for your interest in the ex-cold war bunker at Trumpington as an option for the Cambridgeshire History Centre. I and colleagues visited the site on 27th November to ascertain its suitability.

Whilst it had potential for records storage (being large, secure, and naturally cool, with internal walls that could be removed in the newer part of the building) it did not offer the same potential for staff or public facilities. Staff facilities were a cramped network of small rooms on different levels which could not be adapted due to the listed status of the old part of the building.

In respect of public facilities there was no potential at all for these, either in terms of space or suitability. The site also suffered from poor access, being tightly located within an essentially residential area with limited scope for car parking and not close to public transport drop off points.

We have, therefore, rejected this site as an option on the grounds of lack of space, difficulty of adaptation, and problematic access."

I have to say I am disappointed. I visited the site at the back of the Accordia development last week, and there has been huge amounts of building since I was last there and the site now looks very cramped, so I can imagine there may be limited options to extend the bunker building to meet the County Council's requirement.

The Accordia site is 'award winning', and certainly has plus points, like the quality of building design and materials, and the use of landscaping - when the posh town houses started at around £1m each, you would kind of hope the buildings would be nice.

But putting aside the fiasco of the childrens playground still not being open (poisonous trees planted around the edge, months and months to remove, still not done despite promises from the Council etc...), if this is planning's finest hour, I'd hate to see its worst (actually I think I may have visited its worst, but that's another story). The site is just a dormitary development, nothing that could remotely be described as a destination on site. No shop, no pub, no significant community facilities. People will leave their property in the morning, return in the evening, and never have cause to meet their neighbours. And the transport is also a missed opportunity - there should have been a major cycleway running through the site connecting with the Guided Bus way and Newton Road. With such a lack of focal point, its a shame the bunker couldn't have been put to a more public use.

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