3,000 new homes
Enough to attract the world’s brightest minds

North West Cambridge development

When modern international research organisations, with their attractive facilities and lifestyle options, started to lure away the brightest and best minds from the UK, the University of Cambridge was determined to fight back.

One of England’s oldest universities asked us to provide professional and agency services to help deliver an urban extension on the edge of Cambridge for thousands of new homes and research units. It wanted to showcase its standing as a world-leader in research to entice the top minds from across the globe.

The North West Cambridge Development provides the University with a unique opportunity to develop an exemplary extension to Cambridge to meet its future needs. The vision is for a development which is seamlessly woven into the City, incorporating the highest design and environmental standards that will provide living, learning and research accommodation to enable the University and Cambridge to grow.

The University secured Outline Planning Permission in February 2013 for an urban extension totalling 150 hectares, on the north western fringe of the city of Cambridge.

Approximately 90 hectares will be developed delivering a total of 3,000 new homes, 2,000 student bed spaces, 100,000sqm of employment space; a mixed use centre and a primary school.  Approximately 60 hectares will remain as open space.


What we did?

We worked closely with the University to obtain a commercial planning permission, shaping the branding strategy for North West Cambridge Development to ensure it reflected the ambitions of the University and setting the disposal strategy for the market housing land.

We advised on the phasing of development to capture the market and the best developer partners, informed the development of design briefs for the market housing land, in addition to determining the size and phasing of the land parcels for sale.

Working with the University’s consultant team, we collated a full technical information pack to enable parties to tender with confidence. The disposal strategy adopted was a two stage selection process, which involved the University at every step. This was designed to enable a diverse range of developer partners to tender for the opportunity, whilst protecting the University’s ambition for exemplar design and quality.  Following selection of the preferred purchaser, we negotiated and concluded the legal contracts.

Bidwells continues to advise on the sale of the remainder of the Phase 1 market housing land in addition to the development and delivery process for the market housing land within Phase 2 of the North West Cambridge Development.



We have successfully secured the sale of five of market housing land parcels within the current Phase 1 release.  We achieved exceptional land values for Cambridge for these transaction, which will contribute towards the University developing 1,500 key worker and student units, research facilities, local centre and school. Our involvement supports the delivery of the North West Cambridge Development to showcase exemplar design quality, green credentials and community engagement on a national and international basis.


By using our multiple capabilities and market knowledge we were able to enhance the University of Cambridge’s reputation across the globe. This project is a game changer for the University for its focus on reputation rather than financial outcomes.

Brian Buckingham, Partner



The biggest real estate development in the history of the University of Cambridge.


The length of Bidwells’ relationship with the University of Cambridge.

150 hectare

Urban extension delivering 3,000 dwellings,











140124 NWC VW03b cropped with Sainsburys

140126 NWC MRK TWNSQ VW03 Local Centre

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