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Plans for next stage of new town north of Waterbeach supported

Proposals for the second half of a new town north of Waterbeach have been supported by South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Planning Committee – and will see more than 1,300 affordable homes come forward.


The Committee met on Friday (29 January) and voted to support outline proposals from RLW Estates for up to 4,500 homes. The application covers land between the former Waterbeach airfield and barracks to the west, and the ‘Fen Line’ railway line which links Cambridge to Ely to the east. 30% of the new homes will be affordable rent or properties that are provided at below market levels - such as shared ownership and intermediate rent.


The development will also deliver a wide range of community facilities including a new secondary school, primary schools, community centres and playing fields. Parks, play areas, allotments and community orchards are also planned, along with natural wildlife habitats and sports pitches.


The plans are associated with significant improvements to public transport, including a relocated, safer Waterbeach Railway Station. Proposals to move the station onto the site were approved by the District Council’s Planning Committee in 2018. They will see a two-platform station with platforms long-enough for at least eight carriage trains, with the potential for expansion to accommodate 12 carriages in future. It will result in a new, modern station that existing and future residents will benefit from.


A network of safe, direct walking and cycling routes will be provided from the start of the development, linking homes with public transport and the town centre, schools, and employment areas as they are constructed. Two local bridleways will be integrated into the new town, providing an attractive route for horse riders. The aim of all of these upgrades is to help reduce car use, providing attractive and environmentally friendly alternatives.


The Council will continue to work closely with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Cambridgeshire County Council and Greater Cambridge Partnership to progress initiatives to assist with the impact on traffic levels on the A10. This could include the upgrade of the A10 between Milton and Waterbeach, a public transport corridor between Milton and Waterbeach and improved cycle connections to Histon, Impington, Stretham, Fen Ditton and Lode.


There will be access to the development via the A10 – avoiding the need to pass through the village of Waterbeach. Measures to mitigate the traffic impact on surrounding villages such as Waterbeach, Milton, Landbeach, Horningsea and Fen Ditton will also come forward as part of the subsequent discussions between RLW Estates and the Council.


The plans also include shops and employment space, such as offices and space for light industrial, storage and distribution use. The plans are in-line with the Council’s current Local Plan which allocates the site for a new town.


South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Planning, Cllr Dr. Tumi Hawkins, said: “This is a significant step forward in the Local Plan aspirations for a new town north of Waterbeach. One of our key aims now is to work with RLW Estates to ensure the development comes forward while being respectful of the village of Waterbeach. We’ll also be working alongside our local government partners to progress the necessary transport upgrades, including local public transport, cycling and walking routes. We know traffic on the A10 is a concern and financial contributions from this development will support measures to help to alleviate that. The plans will help deliver many of the new homes that we know we need – along with a significant number of homes that are affordable to live in.”


Chris Goldsmith of RLW Estates said: “We are delighted that the Planning Committee granted permission for our application that will create a vibrant, sustainable new town of 4,500 homes at Waterbeach. We are looking forward to working closely with the Council to deliver our vision of a sustainable community that will place cyclists and pedestrians at its heart, creating an environmentally conscious and future proofed development.”


RLW Estates are a consortium comprising Royal London, St John’s College, Cambridge and Turnstone Estates.


A Supplementary Planning Document, which will give more detail on how the new town should be planned and delivered, was adopted by the Council in February 2019. This is being used to guide how the new town should be designed, developed and delivered so it is consistent with the Local Plan. It is being used to guide a comprehensive approach to its development and the provision of links across the whole site.


A separate planning application from different developers Urban&Civic, covering up to 6,500 homes on the western part of the site closest to the A10, was given outline planning permission in May 2019.


Image credit - LDA / RLW