Leading Councillors have said they support Anglian Water’s ambition to maximise the environmental benefits from the relocation of their Waste Water Treatment Plant on the edge of Cambridge, and want communities to be fully involved in ensuring this is achieved.
Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council are urging local people to get involved in the next stages of the design and planning for the new plant, which Anglian Water says will support the local ambition towards net zero carbon, and also deliver wider benefits for people and wildlife.
Anglian Water have announced today that the preferred site for the new plant is Site 3, an area north of the A14 between Fen Ditton and Horningsea. This follows Anglian Water’s extensive research and public consultation during 2020 to inform the selection of a preferred site for the relocated plant – with around 3,500 comments being submitted. The selection process involved assessing three site options against an agreed range of criteria, including environmental impacts of three potential broad locations, and considering the feedback from the comments received.
The proposed relocation would allow a new net zero carbon facility, meeting exemplar environmental standards, to replace the existing plant near Cambridge North railway station. This will unlock opportunities for future development on that site, as well as providing for planned growth in places such as Waterbeach New Town. The project means that no additional treatment facilities would be needed at the new town as wastewater would be treated at the new plant.
The relocation would enable the councils to realise their long-held ambition to redevelop the site of the current plant in North East Cambridge as part of a new exemplar low carbon mixed-use urban district, creating much-needed homes and jobs in a well-connected location. Both councils allocated the North East Cambridge area as a major development location in their adopted 2018 Local Plans but recognised the limitations that the current wastewater treatment plant placed at the time on the scale and type of regeneration possible.
The councils have been working together on an Area Action Plan for North East Cambridge since 2014, and following the government’s commitment in 2019 to fund the relocation of the water treatment works through the Housing Infrastructure Fund, the potential to provide a vibrant new district has been transformed. This new opportunity informed the proposals contained in the draft North East Cambridge Area Action Plan that was consulted on in 2020.
Anglian Water expect to be publishing new information on their website and will be sending further information to nearby communities. They will conduct further community engagement to explore design ideas for the new site this summer before putting these forward for public consultation.
Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “The announcement today by Anglian Water is an important milestone towards replacing the current facility with one that harnesses latest technology to meet the future needs of our area. It demonstrates their professionalism and commitment to environmental standards that will meet future needs, not just current requirements. The relocation is very important in enabling the strategic regeneration of North East Cambridge, one of the most sustainable locations for new housing and jobs locally. North East Cambridge can make a significant contribution to the future housing needs of Greater Cambridge and has been recognised for over two decades as a highly sustainable location for a quality new urban community on a major brownfield site.
“Building new homes in locations that are well-served by public transport, that integrate well with neighbours, and which are within walking and cycling distance of the places that people want to go, is essential in both Councils’ commitment to achieving net zero carbon. We are both committed to further engagement with residents in developing plans for North East Cambridge, building on their input to date and the strong vision set out in the draft Area Action Plan which we consulted on in 2020.”
Cllr Bridget Smith, leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said “We know that there will be concern and many questions for local communities, as Anglian Water announcing a preferred site is only one step in this process. Anglian Water will be giving lots more opportunities for people to get involved with the planning and design process, and we would encourage everyone locally to take part. We, like Anglian Water, have ambitious targets for delivering environmental objectives. We want to encourage them to stretch themselves and to seize the once-in-a-lifetime chance to upgrade this critical piece of infrastructure in a way that benefits our common environmental interests; including creating new wildlife habitats, green energy and improved access to the countryside.
“We understand that studies have shown the proposed site to have the lowest overall odour impact for local communities – and we must not forget this is not moving an old plant, but building a modern one that will resolve most of those issues - and the lowest risk of negative impacts on underlying aquifers. In the coming months we expect to work with Anglian Water to understand further how their preferred site will deliver against these objectives
“The councils together have a long-standing ambition to realise the opportunities for developing an exemplar low-carbon city district at North East Cambridge, which will be enabled by relocation of the plant. This will reduce pressure for housing development in greenfield locations, where it could take up far more land and be less sustainable in terms of transport emissions.”