Councillors have approved plans by Fletcher Priest Architects for 6,500 homes on Ministry of Defence land on the edge of the Fens in the east of England
South Cambridgeshire District Council granted outline planning permission to the London practice’s masterplan for redevelopment of Waterbeach Barracks and Airfield.
The 293ha site – used by the military for more than 70 years – is being sold as part of the MoD’s estate disposal programme and developed by Urban & Civic.
As well as the homes – at least 1,950 of which would be affordable – the scheme includes business, retail, community, leisure and sports space, a hotel, schools, parks and associated infrastructure works.
The concept masterplan was shortlisted for an AJ Architecture Award last year.
Fletcher Priest partner Jonathan Kendall said the practice aimed to develop strong links between the new development and the existing village of Waterbeach and its surrounding landscape.
‘There was a huge sense of loss when the barracks closed in 2013,’ he said. ‘The design is based on reopening connections with astonishing layers of history, both from recent memory and back to the medieval monks who followed the causeway that ran through our site to the Benedictine abbey immediately to the north.’
The application was opposed by the parish councils of Cottenham, Horningsea, Landbeach, Milton and Waterbeach, with traffic impacts a key concern.
The Environment Agency in December 2018 ’recommended objection’, warning that ‘the proposal is not served by adequate or determinate wastewater infrastructure and therefore poses an unacceptable risk to water quality and may increase flood risk to nearby communities’. However it is understood the agency withdrew its objection before the council’s planning committee sat.
But planning officers recommended approval of the scheme, noting that it would create jobs, homes and biodiversity.
They argued that any infrastructure proposals put forward by Anglian Water would be subject to a robust assessment process and intermediate capacity was available to allow time to work up an acceptable scheme. While the development would generate additional traffic, they argued that it was critical to delivering the investment needed to overcome existing problems on the roads.
Fletcher Priest said it aimed to take load off the A10 through public transport facilities as well as footpath, cycle and equestrian links which would positively contribute to residents’ health and wellbeing.
The practice received support in designing the scheme from Bradley Murphy Design, David Lock Associates and Peter Brett Associates. Mole Architects and John Thompson and Partners supported the initial bid but did not take part in the masterplanning process.
Fletcher Priest’s masterplan for Waterbeach Barracks and Airfield - looking south towards Cambridge with Denny Abbey in the foreground
Source: Urban and Civic, Fletcher Priest Architects, Assembly Studios