News: 5 October 2016Cambridge team to visit Innovation Districts

Barton Willmore has announced the winners of its Travel Award, supported by The Barton Willmore Foundation. Claire Brindley, Nichola Traverse-Healy, Paul Derry, Justine Bailey and Kristina Mead, from our Cambridge Planning team, have been awarded funding to visit Boston, USA to study the application of ‘Innovation Districts’ in the city.

The team’s proposal comes as a result of careful consideration for how Cambridge could tackle its burgeoning housing crisis. With the City’s economic success in recent years largely due to the success of the University of Cambridge and its unique relation with industry, this economic prosperity brings housing pressure and today Cambridge is facing an unprecedented housing shortage. However, the unique and much-loved character of Cambridge, and the presence of its surrounding Green Belt, means that high density and high-rise development options are limited.

Innovation Districts are a novel way of providing new housing concurrently with business growth: leading-edge institutions and companies cluster with a mix of other uses (homes, offices, retail and leisure). Often focused around existing suburban science parks, Innovation Districts enhance technical and research focussed environments, creating physically compact, mixed-use urbanised areas to mutually benefit housing and commerce.

“Cambridge benefits from several high-tech science and research parks which have been invaluable to the City’s economic prosperity, but currently do little to address the housing crisis. We believe the Innovation District model could provide an opportunity enable housing, retail and recreational opportunities to be retrofitted into existing science parks, making them 24 hour destinations and are keen to find out as much as possible about their application elsewhere.” Says Nichola Traverse-Healy, Planning Associate in the team.

On their five-day trip, the team will visit Innovation Districts in Kendall Square, Cambridge (Massachusetts) and Boston Seaport as well as meeting with industry experts at the Boston Redevelopment Agency, Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Cambridge City Council.  The team also hope to speak to businesses who have developed and grown within Innovation Districts.

The Barton Willmore Foundation, made up of existing and retired Partners, fund a range of activities to support development and learning. It was the winning team’s identification of a timely topic with local justification and consideration of the practical application that was particularly commended and won the Trustees' vote.

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Travel Award, Travel Blog, Cambridge, Innovation Districts, Technology