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Cambourne to Cambridge busway held up by homes delay

The off-road Cambourne to Cambridge (C2C) busway has been delayed because of the Environment Agency’s objections to the thousands of new homes the route will support.

Cambridgeshire County Council was due to seek permission from the government to start building the £200million busway last year.

Hundreds of trees will be felled at Coton Orchard for the busway
Hundreds of trees will be felled at Coton Orchard for the busway

But now it is expected that an application will not be made to the Department for Transport until later this year, meaning completion of the busway is scheduled for the end of 2027 - a year later than previously planned.

The delay relates to the Environment Agency’s objections to 3,000 homes on Bourn Airfield, through which the busway would run. The agency has objected to a number of major developments in the region due to concerns over the pressure on our water supplies.

A GCP spokesman confirmed that should circumstances change on these developments then it “would naturally review any impact on our plans”.

The busway, devised by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), aims to “cut congestion and improve air quality” as more homes are built.

Peter Blake, GCP transport director, said: “These sites are integral to our scheme as these developments would create heavy traffic on existing roads, causing pollution, delays and tailbacks at peak times so it is vital that the infrastructure to support these new developments is in place before they are built.

“This is why we continue to work with our local partners and national government to look to resolve the challenges which we all face regarding water supply.”

Mr Blake added: “This new link is needed to enable the provision of thousands of new homes in the area. If nothing was to be done, traffic will continue to build along the A428 and A1303, adding to the already existing congestion and pollution. We expect to submit our application to the Department for Transport (DfT) this year. This is later than planned due to the delay in the planning approval process for the Bourn and West Cambridge developments which are pending agreement with the Environment Agency. It is likely that a public inquiry will be called following our submission. The Secretary of State for Transport would then make the final decision as to whether the scheme can be built.”

An CGI image of the Cambourne to Cambridge busway Picture: Greater Cambridge Partnership
An CGI image of the Cambourne to Cambridge busway Picture: Greater Cambridge Partnership

The Environment Agency said water is a “precious resource that is under pressure across the country” and that taking more from natural stores is “posing a real risk to chalk streams, river, and wetland habitats”.

In December, housing secretary Michael Gove announced plans for 150,000 homes in the Cambridge region. Addressing issues of water supply locally, he promised to “say more about new sources of water” in 2024.

The C2C scheme has been developed over eight years, but has been met with backlash from some who oppose the environmental impact building the new busway would have, including the felling of hundreds of trees at Coton Orchard, which has been widely opposed.

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