Waterbeach, a new settlement?

The Cambridgeshire Structure Plan is coming up for review and many developers are putting forward proposals for inclusion. The campaign has received documents relating to one such proposal for a new settlement to the north of Waterbeach, on and around the site of the barracks.

This proposal includes 12,800 dwellings, and employment for 16,300 people. Between 2016 and 2030, phase two would add 8,200 dwellings. The first phase would cover 545 ha, of which 295 ha would be ‘previously used land’. Currently, there are some 40,000 dwellings in 4000 ha for Cambridge City, and about 1,900 dwellings in Waterbeach.

The developers express the wish to promote Waterbeach as a walking and cycling community, with a ‘wide-ranging network of footpaths and cycleways’, and ‘to cater for the needs of commuter cyclists in particular.’

The main transport proposal is for a ‘high frequency rail shuttle service, an entirely new and dedicated rail franchise’ between a relocated Waterbeach station and Addenbrooke’s. I understand ‘high frequency’ to mean every 15 minutes, although it’s not clear how developer’s promises would become reality.

So far the proposals are high on aspiration and low on detail. The developers promise that the detail will be filled in as the structure plan review process progresses. Nothing is going to happen until the new structure plan is agreed, and Waterbeach barracks is still in active use!

The Regional Planning Guidance for East Anglia prefers development within, and on the periphery of, the built up area of Cambridge to a new settlement, so there is likely to be much discussion before this or any other new town proposal becomes reality.

Mike Richmond