Mills & Reeve advises Urban&Civic on Waterbeach Barracks acquisition

Leading national law firm Mills & Reeve has advised master developer Urban&Civic Plc on its acquisition of Waterbeach Barracks in a move that will see a major redevelopment of the former Royal Air Force (RAF) Station.

Urban&Civic, which has bought Waterbeach Barracks from the Ministry of Defence (MOD), has ambitious plans for the site which was once the airfield and barracks of the Royal Engineers.

The 20-year development, to be delivered in stages, will provide 6,500 homes, five schools, extensive on and off-site cycle connections, public transport services and active travel schemes.

A town centre with health centre, shops and services and a range of community facilities, including parks, play spaces and sports facilities, will sit at the heart of the development, while 250 acres of green space and 34 acres of ecology habitats will provide a home for wildlife.

Urban&Civic, part of the Wellcome Trust, has been a development partner of the MOD since 2014 and, together with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), it has achieved outline planning consent and commenced a major redevelopment of the site which is eight miles north of Cambridge.

Urban&Civic chief executive, Nigel Hugill, said: "The transformation of Waterbeach Barracks was grounded in belief and leadership. A major Government department actively releasing brownfield land for new homes to maintain local momentum that both anticipates and facilitates world-beating economic growth in North Cambridge. In the process, realising significant funds for new investment properly joined up thinking.

“Urban&Civic will continue to nurture Waterbeach lovingly as a unique waterside community within enhanced and protected natural habitats, quite unlike any other place in Cambridgeshire. We look forward to continuing to build on the collective vision."

Sustainability is at the forefront of the design at Waterbeach. Materials on site will be recycled, and homes and civic buildings will all have low energy features, including air source heat pumps and electric vehicle points. Repurposing a former barracks and airfield will mean being able to reuse the historic core footprint of green spaces and buildings, recycling over 98% of the hard materials on site to massively reduce carbon use, waste and construction traffic in the development of the new community.

Protecting and enhancing the diverse habitats and the species they support, is also a key priority for the development of Waterbeach. This is all part of a strategy that will deliver a 20% net gain for nature from the development.

Urban&Civic is the UK’s leading master developer. At the core of its business are 14 strategic sites of more than 16,000 acres which are being developed directly or in partnership.

Caroline Hanratty, real estate partner at Mills & Reeve, who led the team advising Urban&Civic, said: “It was a huge privilege to act for such a visionary strategic developer which is turning brownfield land into vibrant new communities, providing premium commercial and leisure facilities as well as new homes and schools.”

Mills & Reeve also acts for Urban&Civic on several other major schemes including the redevelopment of the former cold war airfield at Alconbury Weald in Huntingdon and the creation of 6,500 homes on the former national long wave transmitter site at Houlton in Rugby.

Our content explained

Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

Mills & Reeve Sites navigation
A tabbed collection of Mills & Reeve sites.
My Mills & Reeve navigation
Subscribe to, or manage your My Mills & Reeve account.
My M&R


Register for My M&R to stay up-to-date with legal news and events, create brochures and bookmark pages.

Existing clients

Log in to your client extranet for free matter information, know-how and documents.


Mills & Reeve system for employees.