New Museums Site

Preparation of a masterplan for the redevelopment and enhancement of the University's New Museums Site - the location of many important scientific discoveries.


Following Beacon's work on the Arup Building within the New Museums Site, we were appointed as part of a project team led by LDA Design, to provide heritage planning advice on the redevelopment of the site overall.

The New Museums Site (NMS) was developed from the mid-C19 onwards on the site of the University's original Botanic Garden. Prior to this, the site had once been the site of the Augustinian Friary, remains of which still survive in the basement of the Arts School and underneath the Cavendish Laboratory on the site.

The NMS developed in an ad-hoc manner over the course of the C19 and C20 with buildings erected as needs required and as funds became available. As a result, the site has a mixture of high quality buildings, many of which are found around the edges of the site, and mediocre additions and poorer quality buildings, mostly within the interior of the site. Legibility and permeability of the site are also poor which, combined with the low quality public realm, results in a very disappointing experience. The challenge was to better reveal the important scientific history of the site and enhance the retained heritage assets on the site whilst improving the site's contribution to the character and appearance of the Cambridge Historic Core Conservation Area in which the site lies. Beacon liaised with the City Council's Conservation Officer and English Heritage (now Historic England) over proposed demolitions within the site and potential alterations to listed buildings. We also submitted a listing amendment request to English Heritage to clarify the designation status of the Arts School and Examinations Schools.

Following the successful completion of the indicative masterplan for the site which was approved by the University's Project Board, Beacon worked with the University and the City Council to produce a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to support and guide the development of the site. Phase 1 of the masterplan (the Arup Building refurbishment) has already been granted planning permission and is nearing completion. Phase 2 of the masterplan which involves the redevelopment of the Examinations Schools and the alteration of the Arts School and ground floor of the Cavendish Laboratory and its Rayleigh Wing to accommodate a Student Services Centre for the University is on site. Phases 3 and 4 involve the redevelopment of the central and south parts of the site and are being developed for submission at the end of 2017. These phases involve the alteration of a Grade II listed building and locally important street-facing ranges of buildings in the conservation area.


Masterplan approval gained from University Project Board. Phase 1 (Arup Building refurbishment) granted planning permission July 2013. Phase 2 (Student Services Centre) granted LBC and planning permission in 2015.

The project was a Finalist in the 'Excellence in Planning for Built Heritage' category of the 2015 RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence.

ClientUniversity of Cambridge
AppointedJuly 2013 - ongoing
Services providedAdvice  
BP teamJenni Mason   Jon Burgess  
ArchitectLDA Design; Bennetts Associates Wilkinson Eyre
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