Work to transform Waterbeach Barracks and Airfield into a 6,500-home community has started.
After the completion of archaeological digs and remediation work for the first phase of the development, 30 heavy earth-moving machines – including diggers, bulldozers and dump trucks – have moved on to the site.
With construction access installed, earthworks to create the future landscape has begun, which means moving around 250,000 cubic metres of earth.
It will heighten the bund, the mound, that runs along the side of the A10 to create a future ecology corridor to enable a safe walking, cycling and equestrian route, where the first primary school will nestle.
It will also deliver a sustainable water drainage system that will see ground levels created alongside ponds and swales, which will take 19million litres of run-off rainwater and connect up existing water systems to the lake.
Cllr Anna Bradnam, one of South Cambridgeshire District Council’s members for Waterbeach, said: “After many years of consultation on the future of Waterbeach Barracks, and bringing forward a new town here, it is great to welcome the ‘big kit’ on site.
There is extraordinary potential for this development to lead the way in sustainable design and to incorporate the existing beautiful landscape features into the development.
“Urban&Civic has worked with South Cambridgeshire District Council and
the community at every stage to ensure the new town becomes a reality of which we can be proud. We will continue to work with Urban&Civic to see that delivered.”
After the earthworks, the next stage of work and delivery of early infrastructure will be the main construction access at Cambridge Research Park roundabout that will feature 40km of cycleways and footpaths, 6km of roads, 5km of utilities and more than 3,000m of drainage pipes and structures.
Landscaping will begin later in the autumn, with the planting of more than 17,000 trees and the creation of a gateway.
In this area, north of the 23-acre lake and close to the first primary school, the first homes will come forward in 2022.
Caroline Foster, senior development manager for Urban&Civic, said: “It is really exciting to see the many years we have put into designing and planning this development with partners finally come to fruition.
“The team cannot wait to get this first part of earthworks complete so we can then start to create the new landscapes, both for our ambitious sustainability strategy and also to create a really special place to live for the new community.”
The scale of the early works – which will cover some 100 acres of the first phase of development – has been supported by infrastructure funding from Homes England, which enables much of the early works to be done at once.
James Ryley, from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, the part of the Ministry of Defence that owns the land, added: “This is a milestone for the development, and marks the start of works which will transform Waterbeach Barracks from a surplus military site to a desirable and thriving new community.
“We’re really pleased to see the development take this major step forward and look forward to the rest of the project.”
Ms Foster added: “The Homes England funding enables us to accelerate and broaden the amount of work we can do in the first instance, so we can set the development up in a robust way: getting proper construction access and haul routes in; doing all the literally 'heavy lifting' on cycle connections, roads and utilities before anyone else comes on site; and then creating a great landscape and setting for everyone to enjoy before any of our residents move in.”