Advocates of the hospital claim it will 'transform the lives of the millions of people diagnosed with cancer’JOHN SUTTON / GEOGRAPH HTTPS://CREATIVECOMMONS.ORG/LICENSES/BY-SA/2.0/

Plans for a Cambridge University-backed cancer research hospital have been approved by the Cambridge City Council, despite fears that the project could affect local water supply.

The Joint Development Control Committee approved the multi-storey Cancer Research Hospital last Thursday (18/04). Construction is planned to begin later next year, with completion anticipated by 2029.

The hospital will be situated on the Cambridge University Biomedical campus, and will include 77 single rooms for patients. It is being developed via a partnership between the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Cambridge, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, and life science partners.

Approval for the hospital proceeds in the face of significant environmental concerns. The Environmental Agency (EA) had previously objected to the proposals, advising that it would put existing water bodies at risk of deterioration.

Cambridgeshire is one of the driest areas in the UK. The region is facing a long-term water shortage, according to Anglian Water. Plans to ameliorate the situation by constructing new pipelines and reservoirs are only expected to be realised by the late 2030s.

Dr Hugo Ford, director of cancer services at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has hailed the planning approval, claiming the hospital has the potential to ‘transform the lives of the millions of people diagnosed with cancer’.


Mountain View

Cambridge University cancer hospital opposed by environmental agency

Ford had stressed that sustainability and environmental impact remain “incredibly important”. He has pledged that the project will “balance the water safety requirements [...] against the wider water resource challenges”.

These contested developments follow on from previous concerns over water instability and sanitation in Cambridge. In 2022, a Guardian report revealed that Cambridge Water had supplied contaminated water to over 1,000 residents without informing them.

In November 2023, the EA suggested the government’s levelling up plans for Cambridge spearheaded by Secretary of State Michael Gove would “pose a significant risk” due to water scarcity issues.