University’s bid to save cash by reducing size of boat house backed by planners

The original plan for the boathouse at Fore Mill Wash has been down-sized.

The original plan for the boathouse at Fore Mill Wash has been down-sized. - Credit: Archant

Cambridge University’s bid to save cash by down-sizing its boathouse plans on the banks of the River Great Ouse near Ely have been approved by officials.

The university’s boat club, women’s boat club and lightweight rowing club won permission back in 2013 to build a new state-of-the-art boathouse and training facility in Fore Mill Wash, on a stretch of the River Great Ouse.

At the time, the plans met with strident opposition from wildlife campaigners, who claimed otters, marsh harriers and water voles, as well as other rare wildlife, would be adversely affected by the development.

Despite the concern, groundwork got under way at the site last summer.

But ‘funding constraints’ led the university to apply for permission to revise parts of the plan earlier this year, with the roof and parts of the building made smaller and building work carried out over a phased period, to allow the university to raise sufficient funding.

This week, East Cambridgeshire District Council planning official Sue Wheatley approved the revised plans, saying that the smaller scale of the building would not detract from the quality of the design.

She said: “The changes to the design have arisen due to funding constraints and the need to phase the development. They do not dilute the quality of the scheme.

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“Whilst there can be no guarantees that the development would be completed, the CUBC has been successful to date in raising funds and once the first phase of the dry boathouse is in place, it is anticipated that this would help encourage later phases to come forward.

“It would be unreasonable to impose a condition requiring the phases to be completed by specific dates.”