New sports facilities open at Waterbeach Barracks

30 June 2022
Children playing with ropes on the playground assault course
The transformation of Waterbeach Barracks has breathed new life into one of the iconic military facilities left by the Royal Engineers: the army assault course.

The Urban&Civic team, who are leading the development of the MoD site, have worked in partnership with Bury St Edmunds-based The Playground to bring the assault course devised by the Royal Engineers based there back to its former glory, and added a further 21 obstacles to create an invigorating 1km course.

The Course sits next to the former Sports Hall, which has also undergone an extensive refurbishment to start the creation of a healthy living hub, which will sit at the heart of the future development. The hub will, in time, sit at the heart of the development’s Town Centre in a cluster with the future health centre, healthy eating places and outdoor play spaces for the young at heart of all ages. But for now, it is open to the existing community to enjoy, and in place for the first residents, who are expected to be moving in from Spring next year.

The original assault course, built by 39 Engineer Regiment, includes wooden steps, an 11 ft brick wall, a water jump, a 6ft brick wall, balance beams, a 20ft rope climb, a 5ft wall drop, a scaffold rig and a rope swing. Formed in three rows of three obstacles, this section is already proving popular with family and friends wanting to compete against each other.

Additional obstacles added by The Playground team include hurdles, hangover walls, incline/decline monkey bars and log leaps as well as a cargo net crawl, Ninja Warrior ramp and lots of muddy ditches!

Nick Smith, founding director of The Playground, said:

“We’re excited to be launching our second Playground, and Waterbeach is the perfect location! It’s great to be able to pay homage to the site’s heritage by incorporating obstacles from the former barracks assault course and adding new ones to create a diverse, challenging and rewarding experience.

“We set up our first Playground in Bury St Edmunds back in 2016 partly due to a love of fitness and obstacle courses, but also to help tackle childhood obesity by providing a fun and exhilarating way to get outside, get fit and stay active with friends and family. It has proven incredibly popular with all ages and fitness levels!”

People climbing over wall on the playground assault course

For the Urban&Civic team, The Playground has been the perfect partner to work alongside the newly refurbished Sports Hall and studio.

Caroline Foster, Project Director for Urban&Civic said:

“The new Waterbeach development has been designed with health and wellbeing at its core: from the walk and cycle friendly design and layout to the lake, green space and woodland walks that connect people to facilities on their doorstep. We’re really pleased that we have been able to breathe new life into the old Sports Hall, which has always been a popular amenity to the local community, but is now fit for purpose for modern and future needs. And equally thrilled that the refurbishment of the assault course next to the Hall, is already proving so popular.

“To have these facilities so early – both for the local community to enjoy and for first residents to have on their doorstep – is just one part of what is going to make the development a really special place to live.”

The Sports Hall – refurbished by Cambridgeshire-based Lindum Peterborough – offers a range of sports including football, badminton and basketball, and the works have seen new lighting, flooring, renovations to the changing facilities, with new toilets and showers added along with lockers. The adjoining Studio has also been fitted with a new toilet and kitchen facilities, so that it can be used independently of the Sports Hall, and the floor levelled alongside a range of accessibility features introduced for both facilities.

The Playground’s launch weekend during the Jubilee Bank Holiday saw over 350 juniors and adults christening the new course and the facility is booking out fast for birthday parties, school events, corporate days and charity fundraising activities. The Sports Hall and Studio reopened on 13 June with badminton and football activities, alongside local bands booking out the Studio space.

For more information and to book The Playground, visit

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