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The Property Board Cambridge University returns to Future Cities Forum

Above: aerial view of the Eddington development, North West Cambridge, with M11 on left of picture - owned by Cambridge University (courtesy Cambridge University)

Future Cities Forum is delighted that Katherine Rodgers, Director of Property Development at Cambridge University's Estates Division, will be speaking at Future Cities Forum's 'Science Cities' event this month.

Katherine is the head of a new Property Group within the Estates Division. She is responsible for the practical delivery of the strategy and business plan set by the Property Board. Together with Liz Peace (Chair of the Property Board), she runs the University’s non-operational estate: that is, the parts of the estate not devoted to the core activities of teaching, learning and research. This includes a variety of commercial and residential rental properties, as well as the West and North-West Cambridge developments. The University operates commercial properties to produce vital income that can be used to support its core academic work.

The Property Board provides a new, unified governance body for the non-operational estate, responsibility for which was previously divided between the West and North-West Cambridge Estates Board and the Estates Division. The Property Board reports to the Finance Committee of the University Council.

Katherine has previously worked for leading real estate investment and development specialists Grosvenor and Lendlease in the UK and as Development Director at Our Place Sustainable Development, where she led the development of new communities across the country. She is also non-executive director on the Group Investment Committee and Group Board for The Hyde Group housing association.

Cambridge University Estates reported last year the opening of the dynamic £40 million West Hub, on the University’s West Cambridge Site, which it says represents the start of a radical transformation of the research campus to create a new and lively destination quarter in the city - the West Cambridge Innovation District.

It states:

'Featuring state-of-the-art buildings and cutting-edge laboratories, the West Cambridge Innovation District will be a world-leading home for research and enterprise, incorporating pedestrianised plazas, central gardens, lakes and urban orchards. The West Hub sits at the heart of the emerging Innovation District, in JJ Thomson Avenue, offering a new and unique meeting place for people to connect and socialise, and marks a new University approach to learning spaces and shared-used resources.

'Open and accessible to all departments at the University - as well as to members of the public - the co-working Hub enables new ways for academics, researchers, students, staff, businesses and the wider community to share, learn and collaborate through the flexible spaces it offers. The three-storey development – which features a shop, cafeteria and the site’s first bar – is situated in a highly sustainable environment, and is designed to be a focal point for the community. It will be open access to all from Monday to Friday, 8am to 9pm.

'Anna Steeden, the West Hub’s Operations Manager, said:

'The West Hub is a pioneering development, social in nature and designed from the ground floor up with people in mind. Above all it is a place of collaboration and co-working, designed to foster connectivity and serendipitous ‘collisions’ that spark new ideas. Its flexibility means its spaces can be configured to meet the daily needs of all Hub users - students, staff, and the wider community - and outside, its amenities will bring a new vibrancy to the site.'

At Future Cities Forum in Cambridge in early 2023, Katherine Rodgers commented on how the University is developing housing for a range of workers and academics, encouraging walking and cycling with good place-making:

'Our housing vision at Eddington was developed many decades ago and it was envisaged as a mixed use place. University staff are housed there and there is also a private market for homes. We need to attract and retain staff across every job type and Eddington addresses that housing problem. We have key worker housing and market homes through our partners and have ensured social infrastructure came about in terms of a school and retail centre. We have finished the first phase and are now starting on the remaining phases with opportunities to intensify homes on the land while not impacting the social infrastructure.

'Our university staff housing has a low take up of cars, so residents do not contribute to the impact on transport levels. Where we provide added accommodation for students, we have found that can relieve pressure on the wider housing market. We are making sure that we create wider social infrastructure and we have a generous amount of green space in the development.

'A lot has happened organically - key worker housing alongside market housing that is purchased. We have a large scale build to rent development. One of our residents from a key worker home has moved onto buying their own home, so the development works for different life stages.'

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