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News release from: 13/12/2023

District Council approves plans for Northstowe permanent community centre

District Council approves plans for Northstowe permanent community centre

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s plans for Northstowe’s first permanent community centre – which will put the environment at its heart - have been given the green light.

The Council’s Planning Committee today (Wednesday 13 December) voted to approve the plans for the building on Stirling Road – adjacent to where the Council’s temporary community centre is located.

The centre will be built using Passivhaus principles, which means it has very high standards of insulation and air tightness, reducing energy demand. Solar panels and ground source heat pumps are included to provide on-site renewable energy generation. It is expected that most residents will walk or cycle to the community centre, so 70 bicycle parking spaces are included.

An artist impression of the permanent community centre for Northstowe. A large main hall is shown with a gymnastics class taking place. With thanks to CZWG Limited.
With thanks to CZWG Limited for this image and the image at the top of this page.

The building will feature green roofs and surrounding spaces for nature - including hedges, trees, integrated bird / bat boxes, deadwood features and a bee house. Combined, this will help to achieve a Biodiversity Net Gain of 19% within the site, as part of the Council’s commitment to doubling nature.  

The centre will be two-storeys with a courtyard garden. There will be a central double-height foyer through the centre of the building, leading to the courtyard garden. A large double-height main hall is included, and an open café on a corner to provide views onto The Green. A flexible space for all ages, suitable for any noisy or potentially messy activity, opens onto the courtyard garden. There will be further meeting and working spaces on the first floor.

An artist impression of the permanent community centre for Northstowe. The outdoor courtyard area is shown and includes tables and chairs, benches and planting. With thanks to OKRA.
With thanks to OKRA for this image.

South Cambridgeshire District Council ensured Northstowe residents had significant input into the design. This has been via online discussions, drop-in events at the Northstowe Community Forum which the Council runs, presentations and a workshop with young people.

The permanent community centre will include:

  • A main hall - A large multi-purpose hall for formal and informal events; public assembly, visual and performing arts, practice and tuition, lectures, and demonstrations.
  • Foyer / café - An informal community gathering space, serving hot drinks and snacks, for waiting, meeting, and greeting.
  • Kitchens - To serve the main hall and café.
  • Community support space.
  • A base for staff, Town Council offices, reception and booking point.
  • Consultation / meeting rooms – Multi-purpose spaces for meetings and groups, visiting community workers, including police, and potentially NHS services.
  • Community co-working / shared space - A free-range space for community book share / swap-shop and co-working, including a computer area.
  • Flexible activity space - A robust ‘make space’ for arts and crafts, workshops or other potentially messy or noisy activities, connected to the secure courtyard garden.
  • Storage
  • Toilets including a changing places facility.
  • A safe and secure outdoor space

Cllr Bill Handley, Lead Cabinet Member for Communities at South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “This is a fantastic milestone for what we think will be a wonderful building. We’ve put some ambitious plans together for a permanent community centre which Northstowe residents can be proud of. A huge thank you to everyone locally who has been involved in the design work. We are especially proud of the sustainability credentials that are key elements of the building, and we’ve committed significant Council funding to make this building as green as possible. Whether it be solar panels, ground source heat pumps, green roofs, extensive planting, or the other environmentally-friendly elements – these are impressive environmental credentials. We’ll now be moving forwards to the more detailed construction planning and, as we have done for the temporary community centre and sports pavilion, keep Northstowe residents informed every step of the way.”

District Councillor for Northstowe, Cllr Tom Bygott, commented: “It is excellent to see the Council’s plans for the Northstowe permanent community centre move forwards. The plans for the new building look really exciting and it is pleasing in particular to see how environmentally friendly the design is. I am looking forward to seeing progress continue.”

District Councillor for Northstowe, Cllr Natalie Warren-Green, added: “This planning approval is a welcome step forward for Northstowe. The Temporary Community Centre is proving to be a great success - attracting a wide range of the community to activities and to the café, as well as to the Sunday Market, and the Health Workers making use of this facility. Having Communities staff based here means that residents have more access to the team too - who are actively supporting people and groups as the community evolves. The Permanent Community Centre is set to be a great success based on the evidence of the use of the Temporary Community Centre and the learning we are gathering about what the space will be best used for. In short, this permanent building is definitely set to meet requirements of the growing community in Northstowe, and I am delighted that approval has been granted.”

The Council will now formally appoint contractors to build the centre. It is currently anticipated that it will be ready in winter 2025/26 – and Northstowe residents will be kept informed during the construction process. The Council is contributing £6.5 million towards the building, alongside funding contributions from the developer, whilst the Northstowe permanent community centre project has also received funding from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.