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Last-ditch attempt launched by councillor to save Coton orchard from Cambourne to Cambridge busway plans





A last-ditch attempt to save an orchard from being bulldozed to make way for a controversial off-road busway is being put forward to Cambridgeshire County Council.

The Cambourne to Cambridge busway plan would see a dedicated off-road route cut through Coton Orchard and green belt land to provide a new transport link to the city.

Coton Orchard
Coton Orchard

Plans are well advanced as the county council has already given approval for an application to be made under the Transport and Works Act for permission to begin building the busway.

But Cllr Steve Count, leader of the Conservative group on the county council, is submitting a motion to the next full council meeting asking for members to consider an on-road solution that would not involve destroying the orchard. Instead, the alternative proposal from heritage organisation Cambridge Past, Present and Future would see a bus lane added to parts of an existing road route.

Estimated costs for the off-road dedicated busway, which is being proposed by the Greater Cambridge Partnership, are around £200m, whereas the on-road proposal is projected to cost around £20m.

Cllr Count said: “I am reserving judgment on which is the better proposal, but I want us to at least compare the two. If the off-road busway goes ahead there will be a public inquiry and I would like to think we had already done the work to make sure there wasn’t a better alternative.

“If the CPPF proposal stands the rigour of the comparison and holds water, we could save a historic orchard just for starters. Apart from the obvious ecological damage proposed in ripping through the countryside, the GCP proposal destroys an ancient apple orchard. The GPC would also save somewhere close to £180m. Think what improvements to public transport that could go towards instead.”

He explained that the council should compare journey times for both route proposals, value for money - a measure known as BCR - as well as ecological damage and whether the route would provide necessary economic growth for Cambrioune and Bourn.

The proposals for the busway have been met with opposition, as the Cambridge Independent has reported, including from more than 2,400 people who signed a petition arguing the busway would “irreversibly damage landscape, views and habitats”. Around 500 trees would be felled for the route.

The GCP plans include a dedicated busway serving Cambourne and the proposed Bourn Airfield development, as well as Hardwick, Coton and the West Cambridge campus.

Running alongside the busway is proposed to be an ‘active travel path’ to be used by pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians. A new Park & Ride site is also proposed under the plans, which have taken eight years to develop.

The petition said: “The proposed route will cut through fields, woodland and an ancient orchard. It will irreversibly damage landscape, views and habitats. It will bring unjustified urbanisation to the village of Coton.”

James Littlewood, the chief executive of the charity, said: “Any opportunity for the councillors to look again and reconsider has got to be a good thing from our perspective. All we've really been asking for is for them to look at this alternative scheme and do a comparison of that with the one that they seem to prefer at the moment and so they can make a judgment based on the information in front of them rather than just having half the story.”

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “We’re aware Cllr Count plans to put forward a motion to full council. The final wording of this motion will be published with the agenda papers for the meeting on May 5 and will then be discussed at full council on May 16.”

The Greater Cambridge Partnership said it had already considered the on-road route put forward by Cambridge PPF. It has previously stated that there is not sufficient room for it and that it would also impact on trees in Madingley.



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