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Cambridge South station could also feature retail and housing, says mayor

By Gemma Gardner

James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, isnt convinced by the idea of a car-free day in Cambridge. Picture: Richard Marsham
James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, isnt convinced by the idea of a car-free day in Cambridge. Picture: Richard Marsham

Plans for a new railway station near Addenbrooke's could also feature housing and retail, the region's mayor has revealed.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor James Palmer told the Cambridge Independent that there is an opportunity for the Cambridge South site to accommodate both retail and housing.

But Palmer continues to insist that the station must be operational by 2021 and not the current 2022 delivery date.

“I can’t understand why it is how it is,” he said. “It’s a rail system – we’ve had them for the thick of end of 200 years. It just seems that if you want to change anything, the hoops you must go through are beyond reasonable behaviour. It’s very difficult for someone who has been elected for a short period of time to deal with people who have no concept of time.”

Network Rail want the station to form part of its East West Rail project (Oxford-Milton Keynes) but the mayor argues that “it’s also a local priority”.

Mr Palmer meets with rail minister Jo Johnson next week to discuss the scheme and try to “disentangle” it from East West Rail.

“The challenge that we will put out is that we feel Cambridge South will offer more than just a station,” he said. “21,000 people will be working on-site by 2021 – that could easily double in the next 20 years. There is an opportunity to put retail in the station, there’s an opportunity to put housing in the station.

“The laws have recently changed to allow you to put housing above railway stations and there is potentially some opportunity to put housing in. Addenbrooke’s is seven storeys high. Certainly [there is] potential to put retail and housing on the station site.”

Mr Palmer said it would be “remiss of us not to explore those opportunities” as they could help bring down the cost of the station.

“It’s not just about sticking a couple of platforms on and a shelter above them, it’s how can we make a station at Addenbrooke’s as successful as it can be.”

He added: “If they can’t deliver, I want to be able to deliver schemes on my own, particularly if we’re paying for them. These are the discussions that we’ll have with the minister and we’ll go on from there. It’s my job to challenge the status quo in all areas and to make sure the people of Cambridgeshire are getting the best service.”


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