What higher use is there for a 48-hectare wastewater treatment facility located near transit? Residential, of course. In Cambridge, England, they are turning it into 7600 new homes.
Plans for the site include a high percentage of affordable homes which will be served by the newly-opened Cambridge North railway station. The development of the site could also result in over 30,000 jobs in construction and associated services.
A £200 million application to the Housing Infrastructure Fund of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has been given the green light, which, if granted, will unlock the redevelopment of the brownfield site. The site currently houses the Anglian Water Wastewater Recycling facility, which is still functioning and will need to be relocated.
This is part of a global trend. There’s a vast inventory of public infrastructure in communities all around the world that is improperly located. In some cases, it’s because urban expansion has turned what used to be the outskirts of a city into an inner-ring suburb.
In other cases, it’s because cities are now reorienting themselves to face their waterfronts. When those waterfronts housed nothing more than commercial docks, factories and warehouses, it made sense to put power plants and water treatment facilities there as well.
But now that places are increasingly realizing that water access is a magic revitalizer, those waterfronts are being redeveloped for housing and recreation, and few people wish to live, work, or play next to a sewage treatment facility, or a toxic emissions-spewing power plant.
Councillor Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “It is really good news that the Combined Authority has agreed to back the bid for government funding to unlock the potential for development at Cambridge Northern Fringe East. We are at an early stage in the process but this bid is a real opportunity for the councils and the mayor to persuade government to back a scheme that would deliver thousands of desperately needed new homes.”
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to win the funding needed to free up this site and we will be putting all our efforts into securing it,” he continued.
James Palmer, the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough enthused, “If successful through the bidding process the funding will play a crucial role in bringing forward over 7,000 new homes and creating over 30,000 jobs. We’re confident that it’s a very strong bid having the benefit of being on a brownfield site with excellent public transport links due to its proximity to Cambridge North station, we’re also confident that it will be deliverable within the time frame set by government.”
The 48 hectare site, which has previously struggled to get investment, is close to the new Cambridge North rail station. It was identified by CPCA advisors CBRE as the best location to put forward as a submission to the Fund. It is adjacent to the Cambridge Business Park and straddles both Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire.
Once submitted, bids are due to be assessed by DCLG and the Housing Communities Agency (HCA) by November of 2017 and if selected to move on to the next stage, businesses cases are to be submitted by Spring 2018 with a decision announced Summer 2018. Money must then be committed by March of 2021.
If the bid for funding is successful, plans could see up to 7,600 new homes, which have been stalled for years because of the cost of relocating the Anglian Water Wastewater Recycling Facility.
Councillor Peter Topping, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council and portfolio holder for housing on the CPCA, said: “I am very pleased that the Combined Authority has voted to back this bid. Anyone who has used the new Cambridge North Railway Station, or works nearby, can see what a good place this is to develop. The area is brownfield land that is on the doorstep of a rail link. There is still some way to go before we know whether the Government supports our bid, but I am very hopeful as it meets a real and compelling need.”
Alongside the Cambridge Northern Fringe East site, two additional strong candidate schemes which could make a significant contribution to unlocking new homes and social and economic growth in the Combined Authority area were also identified. These were Huntingdon Third River Crossing and Wisbech Garden Town. The Board is agreed to support further development of these schemes to target future investment proposals.
The DCLG Housing Infrastructure Fund is a major capital grant program of £2.3 billion for new physical infrastructure aimed at unlocking sites in the areas of greatest housing demand and helping to deliver 100,000 new homes in England.