Plans for Cambridge water complex back on track

Sky Holmes 8 March 2013

Plans for a £25 million, 220-acre water sports complex just north of Cambridge are one step closer to becoming reality, after developers and the South Cambridgeshire District Council recently signed an agreement, enabling planning permission to now be formally issued. Construction plans for the complex, involving blueprints for 3.2km of quality water connected to the River Cam, were temporarily put on hold due to concerns raised by the South Cambridgeshire District Council that there could be detrimental effects on the River Cam and on local transport, largely due to a flood risk assessment and concerns over drainage and traffic congestion.

The complex is set to include a 2km long international standard competition course and boast a 3-mile long cycle circuit, triathlon facility and a lake well-stocked with fish for angling, to be situated between Milton and Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire. Whilst councillors agreed to grant the planning permission in 2007, the conditions of the developer agreement were brought to light regarding environmental concerns. Highway improvement and the managing of traffic form part of the agreement to ensure that residents near to the proposed site are not adversely affected during and after the construction period; residents have expressed concerns of being “flooded with water or with students”.

The agreement ensures that the area around the lake, which includes 100 acres of woodland, will be open to the public. The sharing of values and developments of the project prompted Mick Woolhouse, executive director for Cambridge Sports Lake Trust, to state: “This is…an important milestone in the development of this fantastic project”. This was good news to the promoters of the project, who have already raised several millions to cover the £25 million estimated cost.

However, Cllr Nick Wright, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for planning and economic development, warned that: “It is important to remember that there is still a way to go before the developers could carry out any work on site as conditions are in place relating to flood risk assessments … These must be fully addressed first”.

Sky Holmes