Vibrant ‘pop-up’ feel promised for city food and leisure hub  

3 D images of how the food and leisure hub in Newnham Street will evolve. 

3 D images of how the food and leisure hub in Newnham Street will evolve - Credit: Appleby-Blanco

Silver Oak coffee has won overwhelming support to convert a former double glazing centre and yard – empty for six years – into an open plan food and leisure hub. 

Nearly 100 comments have been received to their application to East Cambridgeshire District Council and the vast majority back the proposals.  

View of the site to be turned into food and leisure hub

View of the site to be turned into food and leisure hub - Credit: ECDC

Silver Oak owners Bruce Garside and Susanne Dent say in their design and access statement that if approved it would see the 35a Newnham Street site become “a vibrant new meeting place”. 

Appleby-Blanco, who drew up their proposals, says an aluminum canopy will seamlessly link the spaces “and provide a continuous sheltered walkway from one end of the space to the other.  

“By primarily using ‘temporary’ structures such as converted containers and off-the-shelf sheds the space will have a vibrant, dynamic, ‘pop-up’ feel to it.  

“A secret garden hidden within a plot of land that is largely not visible from the main street.” 

They have told East Cambs planners that having established two successful businesses in the city, Silver Oak hope to create an area for people “to enjoy food, drinks and atmosphere within a family friendly environment”. 

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Silver Oak team also canvassed the neighbourhood and found “overwhelming show of support”. 

Silver Oak Coffee

Silver Oak Coffee has ambitious plans for a new food hub in the city - Credit: Silver Oak

Their application says that on and off over the past five years the property had been advertised unsuccessfully to rent or sell it. 

“On one occasion it was let to be used as an aquatics centre but didn’t go through due to the covid lockdown,” says their agent Appleby-Blanco. 

Proposed image on Newnham Street

Proposed signage on the new leisure and food hub - Credit: Appleby-Blanco

“Based on these outcomes and the now promising collaboration with Silver Oak Coffee company we consider the partial change of use to be acceptable in the local area, where within 5 minutes' walk there are a number of other hot food and drink premises. 

“ The projected number of full time employed staff the proposal will bring to the site is a minimum 5 at off-peak times (early morning) up to 18 at peak times (Saturday evenings).” 

Appleby-Blanco says the proposal takes  a ‘light touch’ approach to the site; the majority of the built structures are being retained and renovate. 

The only demolition will be of the conservatories which were part of the previous business and have no architectural or historical value.  

The single storey and two storey buildings which are to be retained, whilst considered to be of little historical or architectural value in and of themselves, are being made the most of.  

“They will be insulated to create thermally comfortable, habitable spaces, and their interiors and facades will be completely overhauled with new cladding finishes,” says the company. 

"The proposal retains and reuses the existing buildings (not including the conservatories), renovating them so they are visually more appealing and functionally superior” 

New installations -  containers and the sheds- will be along the east boundary of the site and inward facing to create an internal courtyard space.  

View of the site to be turned into food and leisure hub

View of the site to be turned into food and leisure hub - Credit: Appleby-Blanco

“Their inward facing facades and interiors have vibrant colours and graphics creating a sense of vitality and dynamism, helping to attract customers,” they say. 

“Using containers and off-the-shelve sheds to create the food stalls and dining booths, and a lightweight canopy ‘hovering’ above lends a transient sense to the proposal.  

“This trend can be seen throughout the city in food trucks and market stalls - not least by the Silver Oak coffee flagship trailer The Rig in Ely’s market place.” 

The company says the use of converted containers eliminates the need for new build construction and is reusing a prefabricated element.  

Appleby-Banco says: “Our vision is to create an exciting space that serves both the local community of Ely but also attracts visitors to the city.  

“Silver Oak Coffee will also be positioned on site, inside a custom container.” 

As well as offering coffee and food, there will be a bar serving cocktails and drinks.  

There will also be an indoor child play area with seating space for parents and minders. 

A decision by planners is expected within the next six to eight weeks.