THE CONSTRUCTION and delivery phase of the project to redevelop Cambridge City Council’s Park Street car park site will be delayed, following an unexpected announcement by the appointed contractor of their withdrawal from the scheme.
The contractor is unable to proceed as originally intended due to other significant schemes stretching their resources.
The car park was due to close in early 2021 and re-open in 2023. However, the programme for closure will now be determined by the design work and tendering process required to secure a new contractor with the minimum of delay.
The council will continue to liaise with stakeholders, neighbours and local businesses to optimise a new start date for demolition and construction. The car park will remain open until the new programme is secured.
The scheme will deliver a premium aparthotel of 229 rooms, with a public courtyard linking Park Street and Bridge Street, above a modern basement car park with around 225 public car parking spaces including Blue Badge parking, modern and flexible cycle parking (including cargo bike parking) and motorcycle parking.
Electric vehicle charging points will be provided for 10% of the capacity (22 spaces) initially, with infrastructure in place to expand this throughout the car park.
The scheme will achieve a BREEAM “Excellent” rating with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, high performance construction materials, mechanical ventilation heat recovery, air source heat pumps and solar panels. Elements to encourage biodiversity including green walls and climbing plants to attract pollinating insects, bird boxes, a bee hotel, and a ‘living roof’ for the aparthotel.
Responding to concerns over environmental performance, the new development will now be operated by air source heat pump technology (using only electricity and not gas). The façade and window designs will reflect the appearance of nearby properties and further reduce the carbon and operational emissions. A revised planning application incorporating these elements is due to be determined this month.
The important city centre site will remain in the ownership of the council. In response to concerns from businesses the council has been working closely with the developer and their design team to do everything they can to achieve a delivery programme with only one Christmas closure. However, the outcome of grounds investigation and monitoring completed this year, alongside archaeological requirements, will very unfortunately make this impossible.
The construction programme is evolving as more detailed technical information about the site becomes available and the programme will be regularly reviewed with the aim of completing construction of the car park in the shortest possible time. To minimise disruption, it has been agreed that Park Street car park will be completed in a phased manner, and reopen in advance of the completion of the aparthotel.
The reduction in the car park spaces in the new car park is in line with the council’s aim to reduce transport congestion and carbon emissions in the city centre.
People will be encouraged to make use of park and ride services, or where they do still need to drive into the city, to also use other public car parks a short walk away from the Park Street area. The delay to the car park closure will hopefully also see a return to wider use of public transport as progress is made through the coronavirus pandemic and into the summer.
The council and the developer are committed to progressing the scheme as soon as possible to deliver the wider economic benefits from the new hotel. The potential for job creation and employment which will arise from the construction phase will be an important contribution to the post-coronavirus recovery in the local economy. An independent report by Savills last year outlined the potential economic benefits of the redevelopment, including £2.5m annual expenditure in the city from guests staying at the aparthotel and the creation of around 35 full-time jobs, plus jobs created during the construction period.
Cllr Nicky Massey, Executive Councillor for Transport and Community Safety, said: “It is disappointing to have to delay start on site at this point. There are, however, some benefits for both the public and local businesses to having the car park open for longer as we move through the current coronavirus crisis.
“I’m delighted, however, that during these challenging times, this much needed redevelopment of the car park is still progressing and will create employment and economic benefit in both the short and longer term for the city.
“We will keep in touch with local neighbours, residents, traders and landowners to keep them informed and resolve any issues that arise during the course of the construction project. Our aim, and that of our development partner and their contractor, will be to minimise disruption and get the scheme completed as soon as possible.”
Marcus Boret from Marick Real Estate Ltd, the development partner for the project, said: “Despite this recent setback, we are encouraged by the interest being expressed by the Main Contractor marketplace. There has been considerable progress since we last reported this scheme. We now have a lot of data on the site follow our intrusive investigations and monitoring. This, coupled with comprehensive detailed design has allowed us to gain critical feedback from main and specialist sub-contractors for logistics, complicated boundary designs, and programme co-ordination, all of which will allow us to minimise the disruption when we deliver this project. Discussions with all key stakeholders are progressing well, and we are receiving a lot of positive feedback from the investigations that have been completed. We are also pleased that we have managed to improve the sustainability of our scheme and eliminate gas entirely from this.”
Simon Walford, StayCity’s Development Director, said “We are delighted to be bringing our Wilde Aparthotel by StayCity brand to Cambridge. Our mix of both leisure and business guests will be perfectly suited to enjoy the city’s many cultural, educational and historic attractions as well as its plentiful restaurants and bars.”