Two councils and the Environment Agency to object to development due to water sustainability concerns

A council planning report has advised against approving a 1,000-home Barratt David Wilson Homes development in Cambridge.

The report states that the outline planning application for phases two and three of the Darwin Green development have failed to demonstrate that an adequate and sustainable water supply can be provided.


2,500 homes are planned to be built at Darwin Green in total

The Environment Agency has also opposed Darwin Green development due to concerns about the impact of increased demand on and abstraction of the water supply that will be created by the development of 1,000 new homes, a secondary and primary school and retail facilities.

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The actual binding decision on the planning application will be made by a planning inspector as Barratt lodged an appeal after Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire Council failed to decide the application within the statutory period.

However the council is still required to decide on its stance as part of the process, with the planning officers’ report going before councillors on Monday.

In a letter to the council from August 2023, The Environment Agency said that growth in Cambridge Water Company’s supply area cannot be supplied sustainably or “without posing an unacceptable risk of deterioration to the water environment”.

The councils’ joint development control committee’s report says that the development could harm groundwater bodies, which can affect the quality of the drinking water supply.  

In the report, Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire Council said they would have refused the planning application, had it not been referred to the government’s planning inspectorate due to non-determination.

Outline planning approval was given to Barratt Homes in 2015 to deliver 1,500 homes at Darwin Green. 

Barratt Homes has been forced to demolish and rebuild approximately 90 homes delivered during earlier phases of the Darwin Green development after finding faults in their foundations.