Combined Authority tells GCP to consider ‘less preferred’ northern route for Cambourne to Cambridge busway
The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) will be told to consider a northern route for the Cambourne to Cambridge busway that follows the A428 corridor.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, which acts as the transport authority for the region, is questioning the existing £160million plans, which envisage a southern route through the West Fields at Coton.
The authority’s transport committee voted last Wednesday to ask the GCP to consider the alternative, despite hearing that its own initial assessment found disadvantages with the northern route.
Simon Wright, an advisor on the Combined Authority’s metro plans, told the committee: “The northern route is slightly less preferred in many areas... all areas. It is more expensive at £122.7 million versus £91.1 million for the southern route.”
He added that there were “a number of slightly negative environmental impacts or potential environmental impacts” of a northern route.
He said: “The proposition is that we would ask the GCP to take on this as part of their assessment because they have been doing all the other work and they have got all the baseline data on the environmental work – we don’t have that.”
He hoped it would be “weeks, not months” to undertake the assessment.
The move was opposed by Labour councillor Nicky Massey, representing Cambridge City Council, Liberal Democrat councillor Aidan Van de Weyer, representing South Cambridgeshire District Council, and Conservative councillor Mark Howell, representing the county council. All three councils make up the GCP.
Cllr Van de Weyer pointed out that councillors have not yet seen the report summarising the comparison of the two routes, despite the committee being told in November that they would.
He and Cllr Massey said councillors could not be expected to vote without having access to the information. Cllr Howell said he had “grave concerns” over the move.
Tory mayor James Palmer, who leads the Combined Authority, has been a vocal opponent of the existing route.
He said: “What we are saying to the GCP here is that we don’t feel that you have looked appropriately at a potential northern route. We are not saying to the GCP that a northern route is the only way to go.”
The GCP’s current proposed route would use existing roads through Cambourne before joining a dedicated section of new road running through the planned Bourn Airfield development.
It would continue on a dedicated route south of the A428 and A1303 before rejoining existing roads in west Cambridge, via the Rifle Range track. The plans include a new Park & Ride at Scotland Farm and a dedicated segregated cycling and walking route along its length.
But villagers in Hardwick are concerned about looking out on to more lanes of traffic, while Coton residents are alarmed that the busway would run through fields.
The GCP, meanwhile, is to undertake an independent audit of its work on the busway.