Cambridgeshire

Cambridge Castle Mound: Campaigners' new bid to 'ensure public access'

Castle Mound Image copyright Google
Image caption Castle Mound is the only hill in Cambridge and is 25m (80ft) above sea level

Campaigners are launching a fresh bid to keep "the only hill in Cambridge" open to the public after a council decided to lease the site.

The Castle Mound lies in the grounds of Cambridgeshire County Council's Shire Hall offices.

The authority has selected developers Brookgate as a preferred bidder to take on a 30 to 40-year lease for the estate - rather than sell it.

Friends of Castle Mound want the lease idea dropped "for the social good".

The county council will move from Shire Hall to new headquarters on the former RAF Alconbury base by 2020.

A council spokesman said the decision to lease the Cambridge site will ensure it remains in public ownership, confirming the authority's "commitment to enshrine continued existing public access to the Castle Mound".

Image copyright Google
Image caption Castle Mound, next to Cambridgeshire County Council's headquarters at Shire Hall, was the site of a Norman fort

But Isabel Lambourne, secretary of the Friends of Castle Mound, said the lease is "the equivalent of selling it".

The group submitted a petition signed by 3,000 people to preserve free public access to the mound and is formulating a second one calling for the lease to be withdrawn.

"Castle Mound is incredibly important and we don't want it privatised," said Ms Lambourne.

"We want guarantees this company will not charge entry. Ask the public what they want to do with it."

'Public access'

Brookgate has proposed to create a "prestige hotel and prime office accommodation" at Shire Hall.

The company is involved in transforming the CB1 development around the city's main railway station and was behind the creation of the Cambridge North station.

Conservative council leader Steve Count said: "We are very aware of our responsibilities to safeguard and enhance public access to the heritage assets on the site.

"But we are also mindful of the need to make the very best use of our assets in order that we can re-invest resources in the essential frontline services which the people of Cambridgeshire rely upon."

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