The Campaign: this page sets out the argument that was put by the East Paddock campaign

The East Paddock is the last remaining large green space on the West Cambridge Site. We believe the University's proposals for the densification of the site could be greatly improved by adjusting the layout to spare the southern part of the East Paddock from development and preserve it as green space.

This need not conflict with the University's objectives, because an adjusted layout could provide the same area of academic floor space in a higher quality setting. The proposed sites for the new Cavendish Laboratory and for the Engineering Department would be unaffected.

To support this proposal, please email Alex Reid at

current master plan
West Cambridge Site master plan approved 1999, updated 2004

The West Cambridge Site is Cambridge University's partly-developed science and technology campus, which lies along the south of Madingley Road. The East Paddock is shown as the meadow image in the plan above
(click for larger version). It is an ancient meadow on the West Cambridge Site, lying between the Veterinary School and J J Thompson Avenue. Less than 5% of the total area of the West Cambridge Site, it is the last remaining large green space not yet approved for development.

The existing master plan, shown above, was approved in 1999 and updated in 2004. It does not approve any development on the East Paddock.

An illustrative revised master plan, shown below (click for larger version), was published by Cambridge University in May 2015 but is not yet submitted to or approved by the City Council. It proposed that the whole site (including the East Paddock) be built over, leaving no substantial area of green space on the 165 acre West Cambridge Site.

May 2015 master plan
Illustrative revised master plan proposed by the University May 2015

In its latest version this plan has been modified to increase the green space to be provided on the Vet School site when it is re-developed - but that is at least ten years away.

The University still intends to build all over the East Paddock; the northern three quarters for the new Cavendish Laboratory, and the southern quarter for a shared use building for Physics and Engineering.

We recognise that there may be compelling technical reasons why the new Cavendish Laboratory needs to be built on the East Paddock.

But we feel passionately that the southern quarter of the East Paddock should be spared from development and turned into green space, additional to the green space now proposed within the Vet School area when it is re-developed. Our arguments are:

a. No conflict with the University's objectives. The land which we propose be turned into a park is less than 2% of the West Cambridge Site. It is surely possible to adjust the master plan so that the same academic floor space is provided in the remaining 98% of the 165 acre site. We recognise this might involve some reduction in the space for commercial organisations, but do not believe that is a serious objection. For a suggestion as to how the master plan might be adjusted, without impacting upon either the Cavendish Laboratory or the Engineering Department, see our Detailed Proposal.

b. The character of Cambridge.  It is a defining and much valued characteristic of historic Cambridge that dense development alternates with frequent and substantial parks such as Jesus Green, Parker’s Piece, Midsummer Common and Lammas Land. We believe this special character should be maintained in the extensions to the city.

c. The example of the North West Cambridge Site. This Cambridge precedent has been admirably followed in the University’s excellent master plan for the North West Cambridge site, shown below, which incorporates a large public park.

d. Amenity. Turning part of the East Paddock into a park with a character similar to Parker's Piece (shown below) would provide a welcome amenity for the several thousand who will eventually be working or living on the West Cambridge site, and for the local community. It is depressing to think of so many people (including many young people) cooped up all day in laboratories and offices without green space in which to relax or take exercise.

Parker's Piece

. Sense of place. A park formed from the southern part of the East Paddock would provide a green lung at the heart of the West Cambridge Site. It would create a sense of place, and would uplift the quality of the whole development to a standard befitting a world class university.

f. Existing policy. The existing 2004 approved master plan states that ‘the major area of paddocks to the front of the Veterinary School [the East Paddock] continues to provide an open area as a setting for the buildings’. Also the draft Cambridge Local Plan 2014 states that proposals should ‘create clearly defined public and private amenity spaces that are designed to be inclusive, usable, safe and enjoyable’ (Policy 56f). For further information, see our page on Planning Policy.

g. A historic opportunity. The preservation of the East Paddock is a historic opportunity because once green space is built over it can never be recovered. 


We seek your support

This proposal is put forward by a group of more than 300 Cambridge residents who believe extensions to the city can and should achieve the same high quality as its historic core.

For our list of supporters, who include all four Councillors for the area, the Vicar of the Parish, and many people who live or work on the West Cambridge Site, please click the blue Supporters button to the left.

For further information, and to express your support for this proposal to spare four acres of the West Cambridge Site from development and turn it into a public park, please contact:

Alex Reid
27 Millington Road, Cambridge CB3 9HW.
Tel: 07748 654008






Return to front page
Detailed Proposal
Planning Policy
Evidence on Benefits