The hospital is set to be built on the University's biomedical campusJohn Sutton / Geograph

Plans for a Cambridge University backed cancer research hospital have been challenged due to concerns over local water shortages.

Councillors are expected to decide whether to approve plans for the hospital on the 17th of April, but a report provided to councillors by the Environment Agency has stated its opposition to the project.

Proposals for the hospital to be built on the Biomedical Campus, home to Cambridge’s medical school, were originally met with objections about water supply in September. A new “water credits” system was developed to address this, but has been criticised by the agency as ineffective.

A report by the authority argued that the government’s plan to mitigate water shortages through a £9 million “water credits” system “requires further evidence” of its effectiveness.

The report comes a month after the water credits system was announced by the Government in a joint statement with the Environment Agency and Greater Cambridge planning authorities.

The “water credits” system looked to allow local developers to buy and sell credits on a water trading market to offset environmental impacts.

Cambridge is one of the driest regions in the UK and additional plans to construct a new pipeline and reservoirs are unlikely to be completed before the mid-to-late 2030s.

The Environment Agency has already blocked the development of 9,000 homes and 300,000 square feet of lab space due to fears over water shortages.

The issue has frequently been the cause of tensions between the Government and local authorities, with Michael Gove’s Cambridge 2040 plans being criticised for their failure to engage with these concerns.


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Construction of the 27,100 square foot hospital has received the support of council officers who claim that it would hold “significant social, economic, and environmental benefits” for the area.

The plans form part of the Government’s New Hospital Programme, which aims to deliver 40 new hospitals by 2030. Development is expected to be overseen by the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundations Trust, the University of Cambridge, and Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre.

The setback for the hospital plans comes amid wider ongoing disputes between the Government and local councils over development in Cambridge. Last month, both the local Liberal Democrats and Greens attacked the plans for the area included in the Chancellor’s budget.