Planning Permission Granted for a Science Museum

Location: Cambridge City Council

Fuller Long has helped Cambridge Science Centre (CSC) secure planning permission for the change of use of a building from B8 (Industrial) use into D1 (Museum) use.

Cambridge City Council’s Planning Committee voted unanimously in favour of converting the industrial premises into an interactive science centre and described the scheme as ‘marvellous’ and ‘brilliant’.

Fuller Long is delighted to have been able to assist in securing planning permission for what is a vital community and educational facility, adding to Cambridgeshire’s international reputation as the place for science teaching, learning and research in the UK.

In order to aid the granting of Planning Permission, we submitted a Design and Access Statement to accompany the Planning Application on behalf of CSC. With just 100 sqm of floor space, Cambridge Science Centre had reached and inspired almost 100,000 people from 2013 to 2016. Hosting school visits, family and community groups and acting as a base for the successful outreach programme, the site was invaluable to the charity’s growth. However, the charity had begun to outgrow its previous location, and with more exhibits, more staff, and hopes to accommodate and reach larger audiences, plans to relocate were imperative.

There were various reasons for the Science Centre and the need for its expansion, which were highlighted in our statements. By detailing that Cambridge’s position as a world leader in science, technology and engineering was put under growing pressure with the increasing lack of qualified and engaged staff. There is a huge need to add highly skilled young people to the employment market, but this can only be achieved by interesting them in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects at an early age.

To prepare children and young people to capitalise on STEM opportunities, support is needed to encourage them to pursue these subjects. The Cambridge Science Museum provides an opportunity where children of all backgrounds can experience hands-on adventures, creating the spark to inspire them in life to make a positive contribution to their communities. In doing so, the organisation offers important help to bolster Cambridge’s heritage and future.

Fuller Long also noted that CSC is also the only year-round STEM learning provider, supporting East Anglia’s 2.5 million residents, delivering impact in communities across the region and beyond. The Science museum is considerably influential for those aged 7-14, especially those with limited access to science capital. We argued that moving to a larger, more suitable location would be ideal for the CSC’s needs and would allow for a fantastic range of hands-on displays, interactive exhibitions, workshops and lectures that could accommodate the increasing number of visitors CSC could reach.

Fuller Long also stated that the proposed use as an interactive science museum, with accompanying facilities, was in line with the Council’s proposed plans for the estate. Not only would it provide a variety of work, but it would serve as a crucial community and educational facility, which would inspire people of all generations, with a particular emphasis on children and those who do not necessarily have access to the latest scientific, technological, engineering and mathematical developments. The Cambridge Science Centre would also create up to 29 jobs, thus presenting itself as a genuine economic, educational and community asset.

The proposed change of use would also support the strategic vision of the Council, as set out in the current and emerging Local Plans. Furthermore, the proposal was also in line with the general objectives of the NPPF. It would re-use vacant premises, deliver employment growth, strengthen the local economy and generate significant educational and cultural benefits that would add to the area’s vitality. Lastly, the application site was argued by Fuller Long to be well-placed to deliver an interactive science museum. It was a sustainable and accessible Brownfield site. In this sense, the proposal was seen as acceptable, and Fuller Long could gain planning permission for the change of use.

To discuss a planning issue with one of our experienced team of consultants for a no-obligation conversation or email us at

Image source: