Underwater and overlooked

Our bright new scheme in Cambridge finds new possibilities for much neglected land

It takes a certain kind of company to see potential where others cannot.

Despite the many technical and planning obstacles, we’ve found a way to revive a forlorn landfill site on the edge of a booming city, whose pressure for land is intense.

By working with the local council, businesses and residents, we are formulating a proposal that relocates non-conforming industrial business, improves local amenities and infrastructure, and gives the community access to beautiful lakes adjacent to the Tins Link and Cherry Hinton Brook that nobody really knows exist.

Coldhams Lane


Other developers looked at this site but found it too difficult.

Fear of the unknown – particularly the subterranean unknown – scares most developers from tackling so-called anomaly sites like Coldhams Lane. Following a string of unsuccessful attempts by others to develop plans on this former landfill site, we found an answer.

The quarry at Coldhams Lane, on the north east of Cambridge, was opened in 1900 to provide materials, for construction works. When quarrying ended in 1956 it was used as a waste disposal tip. Landfill on half the site ended in the 1980s, and the remaining pits were filled with water.

The opportunity for a development arose when we were invited to present proposals for a comprehensive master planning approach to this part of Cambridge.  The owner showed interest because our approach takes all the mystery out of the site. Our proposition entailed an initial investment in a year’s worth of investigation and monitoring, to fully understand the issues, with an option to purchase if it proved possible to develop.

Once we had completed our site investigation, the land was purchased and negotiations began with Cambridge city council to consider a Planning Application.

Like most large scale schemes discussions began with the planning department, the Borough Engineers, the Local Councillors and residents before any applications will be prepared.

The lakes have also long been a focus of local campaigning for public access and leisure use as part of an ‘urban country park’.

“It took a company prepared to look at the issues methodically,” says Ian Anderson of Iceni Projects, “…and this is a site that’s been looked at by many, many developers before – we’ve consulted on it for others – but no one to date has demonstrated an approach to the issues that was sufficiently practical.”

Careful analysis of the problems of the site, a thorough approach to remediation and detailed consultation with the local authority, its politicians and technical officers, was the groundwork here.

The approach gave confidence to the local authority that we would be able to implement the development plans.

In addition to our willingness to compromise on the plan, we agreed to make improvements to an existing cycle path which crosses the site and also to improve and preserve the lakes as a local nature reserve with public access. This has all been undertaken with extensive public consultation.

Coldhams Lane is typical of our approach – in developing plans, we’re ready to negotiate on alternative uses, prepared to compromise and enthusiastic about investing in local improvement projects.

“Anderson’s thoroughness is opening up sites that have lain idle for years.” Ian Anderson, Principal, Iceni Projects