Northern Fringe East — Cambridge

Grosvenor; U+I / Town

Cambridge is a city experiencing unprecedented growth – great change is underway – but what is the vision for the shape of the city in the next half-century? What is the spatial strategy underpinning this vision?

Cambridge performs on a global stage of cities at the heart of a strong ‘knowledge economy’. Its continuing role in this urban club, and its economic resilience, depend on the quality of the city’s environment: an ambitious sense of the sort of place it wants to be. Our research has exposed threats in the quality of the city’s working environments and its supporting infrastructure.

Existing view along Cowley Road

The site is currently dominated by the city's main sewage works

The largest area of the city yet to be fully developed is the North East quadrant, an area of 250 hectares occupied by the city’s sewage works, under-used rail sidings and the world-renowned Science Park. A new railway station has been established – Cambridge North – providing a fast link to London. Hard won, this station will provide critical new infrastructure to the north of the city, in an area which is the last opportunity for major urban growth that achieves net-zero-carbon and creates a connected and walkable neighbourhood.

Since 2012, 5th Studio have been promoting a strategy which radically urbanises this topography, welding together a territory in a way that overcomes the encircling infrastructure, forging good connectivity with both north Cambridge and the landscapes along the River Cam. As part of this work, the City Council were successful in winning a £220m bid to central government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund to relocate the city’s sewage works.

Having instigated the project and worked with a number of parties, including Grosvenor, to realise this ambitious vision, 5th Studio is currently advising the landowners’ chosen development partner, U+I and Town.

2021-2025 ~ 300 homes

2025-2030 ~ 1700 homes completed

2030-2035 ~ 3200 homes completed

2043 – all homes complete

Illustrative view along an improved Cowley Road



Unit 14
21 Wren Street
London WC1X 0HF
t +44 (0)20 7837 7221
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Gwydir Street
Cambridge CB1 2LJ
t +44 (0)1223 516009
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2 King Edward Street
Oxford OX1 4HS
t +44 (0)1865 684004
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We are keen to receive CVs and short portfolios from Part 1 and Part 2 designers. Please contact us via

We actively encourage qualified applicants who are Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, disabled, female and LGBTQIA+ as these groups are under-represented throughout the built environment professions.