Sam Davies

Where is our pavilion?

I’ve had a spate of emails recently about the continued lack of visible progress towards delivering the new pavilion at Nightingale Park. As today marks the seventh anniversary of the signing-off of the second and final tranche of funding at South Area Committee on 14 December 2015, I thought I would briefly describe what I know about where we are.

The project is funded by two sources:

  • Contributions that property developers in the area are made to pay to mitigate the impact of development (‘S106’ money). In the case of Nightingale Pavilion, this money relates to the Ninewells development;
  • Money from Sports England, which comes with particular requirements to deliver upgraded changing room facilities.

The proposed plans therefore combined changing rooms and showers, a community room and a kitchen, and externally accessible public toilets. This would be a valuable new asset for residents in the south of Queen Edith’s, an area which the City Council recognises has a shortfall in community facilities.

Beyond exasperating

With the funding in place, it’s therefore been beyond exasperating that the project has had so much delay.

Some of this has been related to the massive disruption to ‘business as usual’ which the Council had to make during the pandemic, and the change in focus of the relevant officers. There have also been practical problems, such as the discovery of asbestos in the concrete plinth which the old building sat on, and an increased focus on environmental standards and energy efficiency, which prompted design revisions.

However, even taking all these factors into consideration, it still seems fundamentally unreasonable that a facility designed to ‘mitigate the impact of development’ in an area of acknowledged deficit, has still not been delivered several years after the developers moved offsite and the last residents moved in.

The exasperation is compounded by the fact that information has been so difficult to come by, even for me as a councillor – something I have found hard to understand.


I have finally been informed – today! – that there is a production slot to commence the build in January. The pavilion will be a modular build, largely constructed offsite and then shipped in, so getting a start time allocated in the factory is a key milestone.

The council team has placed a holding purchase order to secure the slot and to also lock in the steel prices for the construction. The factory will then confirm the actual date when it will go into production.

After all this time, we can be forgiven for not quite believing it until we see it. However, just maybe we will see the pavilion in 2023. I will continue to keep you updated.

Sam Davies


  • Thank you Sam for perservering. Your news is good. The delay made one concerned that the money has gone elsewhere; perhaps into ‘promotional’ leaflets for the congestion charge!

  • At last some good news! but we won’t hold our breath … I fear the project might really have evaporated into thin air without your constant pressure and reminders. Thank you, Sam, for yet another thing that you have been doing for Queen Edith’s.

  • Am I being cynical in wondering if the external toilet facilities included in the spec, will be ripe for council closure the moment they are opened?

  • Thank you yet again, Sam.

    As you say, we shall just have to wait and see. The arrogance and indifference are incredible.

    Happy Christmas. You have certainly earned a break.

    Len Rix

  • Great news! However we will only believe in it when we see it completed. Thanks, Sam, you are indefatigable!

  • Please make sure it does not have timber or any other combustible cladding. Please check it has level access unlike Shelford. Other uses such as play group might be beneficial. Well done in getting answers.

  • During my time as Councillor this project was my “baby”. I fought to secure the funds for the Pavilion from the Bell School development. If memory serves me right, we secured £420,000 and we commissioned the design requesting a veranda to be incorporated so that parents/grandparents can sit outside protected from the rain and watch their children/grandchildren playing in the park.( I dont know if this is its still the case)
    I believe I was also involved in the granting of a planning permission for the pavilion and the last act I was involved in it was to demolish the old Pavilion and make room for the new one.
    It’s up to the current Councillors to constantly pester and almost “annoy” the officers to get the job done.
    Good luck we are looking forward to seeing the project completed.

    George Pippas
    Former Cambridge City Councillor and Mayor

  • Thanks for the update Sam. The Pavilion will be a good thing but I do worry that it will be the target of increasing anti social behaviour in the area in/around the park. Young men were climbing on the roof of the old building and vandalism has been a problem in other areas of the park too. At very least it will need CCTV linked to police otherwise I fear it might start to be knocked around.

  • If the Pavilion is ever constructed perhaps we should have a plaque ere Ted “We waited X years for this”
    Any other area in Canbridge would simply not have been treated this way!!