Queen Edith’s Walks – No.9: A Changing and Growing Area

The Queen Edith’s Community Forum has published a free, 32-page booklet called “Summer in Queen Edith’s”, with local walks and activities for all the family.

This is one of a number of walks produced as part of the Summer in Queen Edith’s booklet in July 2020. You can find out more here about the booklet and the other walks and activities in it.

Click the map for a printable version.

The future of Queen Edith’s is very likely to see more housing estates and more organisations moving onto the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

This walk helps you understand more about how quickly the Campus is growing. From the Hills Road side of the Campus, it’s hard to see exactly what’s going on here – which is that it’s becoming a small town in its own right, with its own shops, gyms, nurseries, and even one day its own train station. By 2030, over 30,000 people will work here every day!

The walk also encourages you to explore the most recent housing estate built in our area – Ninewells, where the first residents moved in back in 2015. How does it feel compared to the older parts of the neighbourhood? What do you like, what would you have done differently if you’d been making the decisions about its design?

Under normal circumstances, you would walk from Addenbrooke’s roundabout on Hills Road towards the main concourse past the oldest parts of the hospital dating from the early 1960s. However, under current conditions, it seems better to skirt round the outside and enter the Campus via Robinson Way off Long Road. You will pass the Cambridge Academy of Science and Technology, set up in 2014 to provide a specialist secondary education for employers in Cambridge’s technology sector.

You will walk past the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (est 2007) on your left, and see the yet-to-be-finished dramatic Astra Zeneca HQ in front of you. This project was due to open in 2017 but has overrun by three years and the cost has trebled from £330m to £1bn!

Follow the road round to the right past the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, opened in 2013 when it relocated from its original site at the Hills Road side of the Campus. You will see the Guided Busway bridge crossing over from Trumpington and the grey (and not very attractive) AZ ‘enabling’ building next to the railway line. It was announced in June 2020 that the area by the bridge would be the site of the long-awaited Cambridge South railway station, which is supposed to be built by 2025.

Cross Francis Crick Avenue and walk between the AZ HQ and Royal Papworth Hospital which opened in May 2019. This green space is part of the Public Art developed for the Campus. The artist, Ryan Gander, describes it as a ‘village green’ for patients, staff and visitors to the Campus. Can you spot the open gateway and the stile? What do you think of the fibreglass tents? If you don’t have a connection with the Campus but live in Queen Edith’s, do you feel this is a place for you too?

Carry on along Robinson Way. When you reach the turn at the end, by the yellow Car Park 2, look across the fields to the row of trees. All of the fields between where you stand and the trees have permission for future development and building out of the Campus. You can also see the £46m bronze and yellow Abcam HQ opened in 2018. Abcam is one of Cambridge’s most famous high-tech success stories – it started as a one-man business in 1998 and now employs 1100 people and had revenues of £259m last year.

Walk past the Rosie Maternity Hospital – maybe you were born there! Then turn right on Dame Mary Archer Way, and then at the end, left into the Ninewells housing development. This is described as an ‘urban fringe’ estate, with 260 homes built on to the edge of the existing neighbourhood. As you walk through, you think about how well connected it is to the rest of the area. Where do the children who live there go to school? Where do people go shopping? What is there for people who live there to do? Does it feel like it was built for a future where people will use cars less? Walk through to the junction with Babraham Road and cross very carefully.

Walk down to the southern-most house on this side, and in through the gate to a green field. This is where Queen Edith’s next ‘urban fringe’ site will be built in the next couple of years – 400 houses spread across this field and the field on other side of Wort’s Causeway. This is the future – how do you think we can make it work for people and for the planet?