The new Waterbeach will be a town designed around getting people out of their cars

PUBLISHED: 19:36 09 December 2017

RLW Estates Waterbeach artist impression - View of the station square from the station building

RLW Estates Waterbeach artist impression - View of the station square from the station building

ILIFFE

Thousands of new homes at the new town expansion in Waterbeach will be in ‘superblocks’.

RLW Estates Waterbeach artist impression - A view from one of the DrovesRLW Estates Waterbeach artist impression - A view from one of the Droves

When parts of a new town are built at Waterbeach, the designs will be missing something: cars.

The latest design documents for the RLW Estates development are aimed at putting people first, with residential areas dominated by the needs of pedestrians and cyclists rather than combustion (or electric) engines. Called ‘Fen Island superblocks’ – a name which fails to conjure up the right imagery – the concept has been adapted from designs used on the continent.

Chris Goldsmith, director of RLW Estates, which held consultation events with Waterbeach residents last month, explained: “The essence of these superblocks – and I’m not too convinced by the name because I think it conjures up that these are massive blocks and it’s not that – is that they create spaces for people.

“It works in Germany and Holland quite extensively. This is about not having cars dominating spaces.

RLW Estates Waterbeach artist impression - A view from within one of the island superblocksRLW Estates Waterbeach artist impression - A view from within one of the island superblocks

“I very much doubt that in 20 or 30 years’ time that we’ll have quite the same fascination with cars, and we certainly won’t with the internal combustion engine.

“This is a place where we’ve got a clean canvas and we can design for the future. This place is going to be around not just for 40 or 50 years, it’s going to be around in 500 years’ time and we’ve need to make these spaces which are adaptable.”

The new town includes some 6,500 homes to be built on the former Waterbeach barracks by developer Urban and Civic, and another 5,000 on RLW’s site – land between the barracks and the railway tracks. It’s thought that some 25,000 people will live in this new community that could be complete in 20 years.

RLW Estates Waterbeach artist impression - View looking along the station approachRLW Estates Waterbeach artist impression - View looking along the station approach

:: Station relocation is key to more homes planned for Waterbeach

Mr Goldsmith continued: “There has been some negative feedback and clearly there is going to be a lot of concern, we’re talking about putting an awful lot of houses very close to people and there is going to be change. I’m really quite encouraged at the way in which the majority of people are being very positive about the way in which they can help shape that change.

“It is very encouraging. So the feedback is good and there is a lot we can take away from it.”

Another key aspect of the proposals is the relocation of Waterbeach railway station, which would move about a mile north. The new station would become a densely populated area with buildings potentially eight storeys high.

Mr Goldsmith said that while he is not entirely sure about the architecture at this stage, the aim is to avoid a ‘dull’ greeting to people arriving in Waterbeach.

He said: “If you arrive at the station you want to know which station it is. It’s confusing enough having Cambridge and Cambridge North. I think you want to know the place you’re in.”

More information is available online at waterbeach.co.uk.

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