MCW Architects completes Cambridge mixed-use scheme

The site had been occupied by a building for over 300 years, most recently by a public house built in 1903 which later traded as an Indian restaurant until its closure in 2016 due to fire damage. Identified as a ‘building which detracts’ within the local Conservation Area Appraisal, the project provided an opportunity to reimagine a prominent corner site overlooking Newnham Mill Pond.

Local developer CamProp GCR’s brief called for one-bed or studio apartments above a ground-floor commercial unit. Two upper floors provide seven fully accessible flats with framed views across the millpond towards the city while maintaining privacy for the residents. The ground floor has been occupied by a café-deli, doubling up as a venue for evening events.

The site is located in a flood-risk area, which influenced the decision to place all residential units on the first floor. Mitigation measures to the ground floor included the choice of in situ concrete up to first floor level with high-level routing of power and data feeds. Temporary floor barriers can be inserted into external door frames.

The scheme is clad in hung tiles to complement but contrast with its historic surroundings.

In response to the sensitivity of the site and the level of interest in its redevelopment, MCW along with planning consultant Carter Jones held a series of consultation sessions with local community groups. These were held in MCW’s own studios – with representatives from the local community and both South Newnham Residents Forum and Newnham Croft Residents Association.

Source:David Valinsky

Architect’s view

This has been a special project for us – a remarkable opportunity to tackle placemaking at a small scale on a wonderful site that is a stone’s throw from our studio in Cambridge. We enjoyed getting to meet members of the community and undertaking a genuinely collaborative process to create what has proved to be an immensely popular addition to this part of the city. It’s great to cycle by in the morning around the early morning coffee drinkers, enjoying views across the millpond; and in the evenings to see the patchwork of apartments reflected in the water.
Colin Moses, director, MCW Architects


Project data

Completion date January 2023
Project cost Undisclosed (under £5 million)
Gross internal floor area 567m²
Architect MCW Architects
Client GCR Camprop
Cost consultant Project Eleven Consultants
Heritage consultant Donald Insall Associates
Structural and civil engineer Conisbee (planning)
Structural engineer Cooper Associates (post-planning)
M&E consultant Scotch Partners
Civil engineer CAR
Acoustic consultant Cass Allen
Fire consultant GB Compliance
Principal designer CamProp Construction
Approved building inspector Shore
Planning consultant Carter Jonas
Main contractor CamProp Construction