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News release from: 04/09/2023

District Council submits plans for permanent community centre for Northstowe

District Council submits plans for permanent community centre for Northstowe

A planning application to provide a permanent community centre for the first phase of Northstowe has been submitted by South Cambridgeshire District Council.

If given the go ahead, the building will be built on land owned by the Council next to The Green, between Pathfinder Way and Stirling Road. The site is alongside Northstowe’s temporary community centre, which the Council recently opened for use until the permanent centre is ready.

The phase one permanent community centre is one of several permanent community buildings that South Cambridgeshire District Council is bringing forwards at Northstowe. The others are the phase one sports pavilion, which is due to be completed in September, the phase two civic hub, which will include dedicated healthcare space, and the phase two sports pavilion.

The planning application for the permanent community centre proposes a two-storey building with a courtyard garden. The plans feature a central double-height foyer through the centre of the building, connecting The Green with 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. The plans also show further meeting and working spaces on the first floor.

Interior artist impression Northstowe Community Centre CZWG Ltd

South Cambridgeshire District Council has worked to ensure Northstowe residents have had significant input into the design of the building. 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 plans for the permanent community centre 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

The planning application proposes that the centre is 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 walk or cycle to the permanent community centre, so 70 bicycle parking spaces are included, along with equipment for four electric vehicle charging spaces and other necessary car parking.

The building plans also feature green roofs, flowers, plants and hedges, solar panels, integrated bird / bat boxes, deadwood features and a bee house. Combined, this has helped to achieve a Biodiversity Net Gain of 19% on the planning application, as part of the Council’s commitment to enhancing nature and Net Zero.

Cllr Bill Handley, Lead Cabinet Member for Communities at South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “We’re hugely excited about our plans for the permanent community centre at Northstowe. Local residents have had lots of input and really helped us to shape the design. We are aiming for a warm and welcoming building that will serve the community and its activities and groups for decades to come and nature and the environment are at the heart of the plans. Now we really need the community to tell us what they think to make sure that the building is going to provide what they need. I would encourage people living in and around Northstowe to have their say by commenting on the planning application. In the meantime, I would remind everyone that we recently opened the temporary community centre at Northstowe and, if any residents haven’t taken a look already, I would encourage them to do so. Given the high demand we have already seen at the temporary building, we think that the permanent centre will be very well used right from the off.”

Northstowe community building artist impressionCoutyard collage OKRA Northstowe Community CentreDistrict Councillor for Northstowe, Cllr Tom Bygott, commented: “I am pleased to see plans for the permanent community centre in Northstowe take a step forward and encourage residents to have a look and have their say. Public consultation is an important part of the planning system so I would urge residents in and around Northstowe to get involved in future planning for shaping what they wish to see here.”

District Councillor for Northstowe, Cllr Natalie Warren-Green, added: “I am delighted to see progress on the permanent community centre. I’ve visited several facilities like this across South Cambs which really bring people together, building a vibrant community spirit. I’m pleased that Northstowe is getting closer to having a permanent hub for residents to use for a wide range of activities, a cafe, and as a base for the community team and health workers too. The use of the temporary community centre in the meantime will help in decision making about what the space will be best used for, when, which is a fantastic opportunity to meet requirements of the growing community in Northstowe.”

The Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service has now launched a three-week public consultation as part of the planning process before the application is determined. People can comment on the planning application by visiting and searching for the planning reference 23/03248/REM – with comments encouraged by Friday 22 September.Northstowe community building artist impressionCoutyard collage OKRA Northstowe Community CentreNorthstowe Community centre artist impression credit OKRA

Once the public consultation has ended, all comments will be carefully considered, and the application will be determined by the District Council’s Planning Committee. If permission is given, the Council will provide Northstowe residents with information about when building work will start and details about when it is expected to open.

A temporary community centre for Northstowe was opened by the Council earlier this summer. Anyone who wishes to book the temporary community centre for a group or event can complete a booking form. The temporary community centre received funding from the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund.