Christ's College is set for a new library, as well as a glass atrium, which will enclose what is currently an out-door courtyard within the College. The works also include restoration and adjustments to the existing library to bring the facilities up to 21st Century learning standards. The plans were approved by the Cambridge City Council Planning Committee on Wednesday.
The project is currently on hold and is planned to be restarted within the next 3 years subject to funding. The works for planning and listed building consent were initially undertaken in 2009 and 2010, planning was granted and in 2016 the team reapplied and gained renewal of both applications.
The New Library will be built on the site of the existing Grillet Library, which abuts Christ's Lane in the city centre. The current library will be demolished to make way. The College's desire to place the New Library at the heart of its academic community has led to the choice of this central site over others. Its position will allow the library to have a First Court presence along with other key College functions such as the Chapel and Hall. The college brief also highlights the need for library accommodation, but also the addition for a space where students can meet for informal study. It will also allow a direct connection with the Old Library designed by Bodley in 1895. Additional benefits are that disabled access will be provided to Charles Darwin's room and the Fellow's Parlour.
A glass atrium has also been approved. The atrium will enclose the Bath Court. The area was originally a kitchen garden and has since been used as a washing area before the current library was built.
Professor Frank Kelly, Master of Christ's College, said the new development would make it easier for the college to function as a modern working institution, and would also provide a communal social space for students, currently lacking in the college.
"The plan is the result of a long period of deliberation," said Prof Kelly. "We require more space and the current lay-out does not respond to this. It also improves disabled access to the existing buildings."
Prof Kelly said the college "valued its heritage assets" but that it was important to move with the times and fulfil the needs of a modern, working institution.
Councillor Kevin Blencowe, Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Transport, said: "It will enliven this part of the college. I have no problem with trying to blend the modern with the traditional. It is a working institution. It may be hundreds of years old but we need to move with the times and also respect the past."
Cllr Lucy Nethsingha said: "While these are enormously important buildings, it is important that Cambridge is a living and changing place. I think the plans do a good job of developing the college while also respecting historic buildings."