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4,500-home Waterbeach New Town East development approved by South Cambridgeshire District Council



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Plans for the 4,500-home Waterbeach New Town East development have been approved by South Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee.

Waterbeach New Town - an artist's impression. Picture: LDA Design/RLW Estates
Waterbeach New Town - an artist's impression. Picture: LDA Design/RLW Estates

The application from RLW Estates was recommended for approval by planning officers, and the committee voted by six votes to five in favour today (Friday January 29).

The vote delegates authority to the council’s director of planning to grant outline planning permission subject to agreeing conditions and community contributions to be made by the developer, which could amount to £250million.

Waterbeach New Town - an artist's impression. Picture: LDA Design/RLW Estates
Waterbeach New Town - an artist's impression. Picture: LDA Design/RLW Estates

The decision follows the granting of permission in 2018 to the same developer to relocate Waterbeach Station to the new town.

In 2019, outline permission was granted to Urban&Civic for a 6,500-home development and community space and amenities on Waterbeach Barracks, on the western half of the new town site.

A number of nearby parish councils have objected to the latest application, including Fen Ditton, Horningsea and Landbeach, citing concerns including the impact of traffic on existing roads, ongoing decisions over related transport infrastructure, and the number of homes being proposed in conjunction with the Urban&Civic application exceeding the existing planning policies for the area.

Waterbeach New Town site layout. Map: LDA Design/RLW Estates
Waterbeach New Town site layout. Map: LDA Design/RLW Estates

Waterbeach Parish Council unanimously recommended the application be rejected. It cites a number of objections including the scale of development, the visual impact of high-rise buildings, the loss of existing green-field and high-grade agricultural land, and other concerns.

When the application was first submitted in 2018, Chris Goldsmith, of RLW Estates, said it would be inspired by the Fen Edge location, with energy efficient homes “well connected via public transport and cycle infrastructure to employment areas in central and north eastern Cambridge”.

Waterbeach New Town - an aerial of the site. Image: LDA Design/RLW Estates/Google Maps
Waterbeach New Town - an aerial of the site. Image: LDA Design/RLW Estates/Google Maps

The application says the focus is on “connected living” and community, with a “sociable streets concept” that will “place people at the heart of the community instead of the car”.

“The patterns of the fenlands will inspire the character of Waterbeach New Town. The qualities of the existing landscape will be valued, with linear historic causeways uncovered and drainage channels preserved, and a greater diversity of habitats restored,” the application says, adding: “There is no other development in the UK like Waterbeach New Town.

Waterbeach New Town - an artist's impression. Picture: LDA Design/RLW Estates
Waterbeach New Town - an artist's impression. Picture: LDA Design/RLW Estates

RLW Estates is a joint venture between a local landowning trust, St John’s College, Cambridge, The Royal London Mutual Assurance Company, and Cambridge-based developer Turnstone Estates.

The outline planning permission grants approval and sets parameters for the concept and general principles put forward by a developer, and is a significant step in the process.

But a reserved matters application – dealing with much more detailed issues of design and layout – will still require approval before construction can begin.

Waterbeach New Town site layout. Map: LDA Design/RLW Estates/Ordnance Survey
Waterbeach New Town site layout. Map: LDA Design/RLW Estates/Ordnance Survey

The approval is also conditional on a new station being built and open for use to serve the new town and other conditions.

More to follow on this story.

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