Sale of MOD site in Cambridgeshire to bring new lease of life to area


The MOD has announced the completion of the sale of Waterbeach Barracks in Cambridgeshire, paving the way for a major redevelopment of the site to provide new homes, schools sports and community facilities, as well as a haven for wildlife.

The site has been sold to Urban&Civic PLC, part of the Wellcome Trust. Urban&Civic has been the MOD’s development partner at Waterbeach since 2014 and, together with DIO, has achieved outline planning consent and commenced a major redevelopment of the former airfield and barracks of the Royal Engineers.

The development, which will be delivered in stages over the next 20 years, will provide 6,500 new homes, five new schools, extensive on and off-site cycle connections, public transport services and active travel schemes. A town centre with health centre, shops and services and a range of community facilities, including parks, play spaces and sports facilities, will sit at the heart of the development, while 250 acres of green space and 34 acres of ecology habitats will provide a home for wildlife.

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David Brewer, DIO’s Chief Operating Officer, said:

“We are delighted to announce the sale of the Waterbeach site to Urban&Civic PLC and have enjoyed working together over the last nine years to help navigate the site through the planning system and into early delivery.

“This is not just a disused MOD site, it is a place with a heart, and a rich military and archaeological history, and strong links with the existing community of Waterbeach. We are proud that this will be remembered and commemorated through the innovative and thoughtful development to come and that those links with the existing community will be reinvigorated.”

Nigel Hugill, Urban&Civic Chief Executive said:   

"The transformation of Waterbeach Barracks was grounded in belief and leadership. A major Government Department actively releasing brownfield land for new homes to maintain local momentum that both anticipates and facilitates world-beating economic growth in North Cambridge. In the process, realising significant funds for new investment. Properly joined up thinking.

“Urban&Civic will continue to nurture Waterbeach lovingly as a unique waterside community within enhanced and protected natural habitats, quite unlike any other place in Cambridgeshire. We look forward to continuing to build on the collective vision."

Sustainability is at the forefront of the design at Waterbeach. Materials on site will be recycled, and homes and civic buildings will all have low energy features, including air source heat pumps and electric vehicle points. Repurposing a former barracks and airfield will mean being able to reuse the historic core footprint of green spaces and buildings, recycling over 98% of the hard materials on site to massively reduce carbon use, waste and construction traffic in the development of the new community.

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Protecting and enhancing the diverse habitats and the species they support, is also a key priority for the development of Waterbeach. This is all part of a strategy that will deliver a 20% net gain for nature from the development.

Waterbeach has a rich history, which has been shaped by the people living and working there for centuries. The many woodland and grassland areas, and the lake – all a legacy of the Royal Engineers time there – are being woven into the future designs for the development, to reflect not just the recent military uses, but also the historic fen edge farming that happened here for centuries before.

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These areas will become rich ecology areas, as well as individually designed parks and play areas inspired by their heritage and ecology. The existing military heritage Museum run by volunteers will remain in place at the village entrance, and the Memorial Garden will be maintained and set within a wider Memorial Park to ensure the sacrifices of those who served here will never be forgotten. The unique history and legacy of RAF Waterbeach and Waterbeach Barracks is being woven into Waterbeach’s next exciting chapter as a vibrant and distinct place within Cambridgeshire.

The Waterbeach site is one of six development partnerships with the MOD across the UK. The sale has been managed by the DIO through its Land Sale Delivery Partnerships. It is the first of these six partnership sites to be sold.