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A school, a park, a supermarket – and homes! Welcome to Eddington

Heather Topel is Project Director, North West Cambridge

- 4 minute read
Heather Topel

It has been five years since we broke ground on the North West Cambridge development and began realising our plans to create an entirely new district of the city. Since then, the physical landscape has been transformed to such a degree that it’s easy to overlook a small but vital change. Today, we no longer speak of North West Cambridge, but of Eddington – not a project, but a real place that’s home to a living, breathing community.

The first phase of Eddington’s development is now approaching completion. By the end of 2018, 700 of the 1,500 homes will be available for University and College staff, rented at affordable rates, with 80 per cent already completed. A total of 1,500 properties will be made available on the open market, and the first of these have gone on sale. Girton College has established a thriving graduate community, Swirles Court, with rooms for more than 300 students.

Many of the community resources are now in place for Eddington residents, including a Sainsbury’s supermarket, landscaped parklands and the community centre at Storey’s Field – a multipurpose space used for everything from mother-and-baby groups to jazz festivals. The University of Cambridge Primary School, which opened its doors three years ago, now has nearly 300 children on its roll.

The University committed itself to creating a sustainable community: a site-wide rainwater recycling system, a centralised district heating system, and underground waste storage

In its plans for Eddington, the University committed itself to creating a sustainable community. Much has been written about the measures taken to minimise the environmental impact of the new district, and help its people to live more sustainably. They include a site-wide rainwater recycling system, a centralised district heating system that eliminates the need for gas boilers, and underground waste storage that removes bins from the urban landscape.

However, the impact of Eddington goes way beyond the local. It is a way of securing the University’s long-term future, ensuring that we will be able to recruit and retain the most able staff internationally, driving our groundbreaking research and maintaining our position as a world-leading place of learning. Without the infrastructure to support our staff, it will be impossible for the University to continue to thrive.

Since the late 1980s, we have been faced with a severe shortage of affordable homes for academics and support staff. Many end up in cramped and expensive house-shares in the city centre, or have to commute from satellite villages, which places a strain on the transport network. These issues are particularly acute for postdocs, who are often at the University for a short period of time, linked to a research grant or project. Their needs are catered for at a dedicated centre near Eddington’s Market Square, run by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

Even as residents move in to the homes that have been built, we are looking to the next stage of the development. This could include further accommodation for staff and students, more houses for sale on the open market and a greater set of social facilities, in conjunction with land dedicated to academic research and commercial use.

Our hope is that within a short time Eddington will be considered as much of a neighbourhood as Mill Road, North Newnham or Chesterton. Unlike a private property developer, we have a long-term interest in the prosperity of our city; the University has an 800-year history in Cambridge, and we expect to be bound up in its story for 800 years to come. Through an ambitious partnership between town and gown, we have created an entirely new district with a mixed academic and urban community, offering a high quality of life and enhancing University and city alike.

Our responsibility to developing this urban extension to Cambridge is one that we take tremendous pride in, and we hope Eddington will enable the University to thrive for generations to come.

Find out more about Eddington.