News release from 24/01/2020

Comment on new plans for Huawei R&D centre

Comment on new plans for Huawei R&D centre

New proposals have been submitted by technology company Huawei for a research and development centre on the former Spicer’s site in Sawston.

A public consultation has now been launched by South Cambridgeshire District Council, so local people can give their thoughts on the plans, which Huawei say would create the equivalent of 350 new full-time jobs. The consultation runs until 22 February.

Initial plans for the site that were submitted last summer were withdrawn by the applicant. Since then, Huawei have been working with the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service, a partnership between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils, on a revised set of proposals. Significant changes to the proposals have been made since they were last submitted, to help address previous concerns around the landscape and visual impact. The new plans suggest a lower floor level and curved roof.

The proposals say that at least 10% of the emissions from the development would be offset by renewable or low-carbon energy sources. Solar panels would generate electricity for the building while heating and hot water would be provided by renewable means.

The development avoids the adjacent woodland which is protected as a biodiversity priority habitat and offers potential homes for bats, nesting birds and dormice. In addition, new grassland would be created to the west of the existing woodland, utilising soil from the site.

The new plans include around 50,000 square metres of research and development space along with approximately 9,500 square metres of office space. Research and development in the field of photonics – which involves the use of lasers, optics, fibre-optics and electro-optical devices across a range of technologies such as data communications – would be carried out at the new facility. New footpaths, cycleways and roads are also planned as part of the development.

The site sits between Whittlesford Road and the Cambridge to Liverpool Street railway line with the A1301 beyond, and the proposal includes improved access via the A1301. The proposal also includes an east-west footpath and cycle link from this main site entrance via the A1301, through to Whittlesford Road.

There would be a 20-metre buffer between the new centre and the Scheduled Ancient Monument of the Iron Age hillfort known as Borough Hill, which sits to the south east of the site.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Planning, Cllr Dr. Tumi Hawkins, said: “We’ve held several workshops with Huawei since they withdrew their original plans for this site and there have been significant changes to the design as a result. These are therefore new proposals and so I would encourage local people to let us know their thoughts. It’s quick and easy to register your opinions on our website so I am encouraging residents to make sure they get involved and have their say.”

Local people can comment on the proposals.