GCP votes to progress Cambourne to Cambridge busway and Cambridge South East Transport schemes despite opposition
The Cambourne to Cambridge (C2C) busway and Cambridge South East Transport (CSET) plans will progress to the next stage following approval from the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP).
Its executive board agreed to press ahead with the controversial off-road busways at a meeting today (Thursday, July 1).
South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne had called for a “pause” on both schemes to “reassess the suitability of both schemes” as they had been due to form a part of the plans for the £2billion Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro, which the county’s new mayor Dr Nik Johnson has vowed to scrap.
The board heard from multiple opponents to both projects, with concern over the environmental impacts of the routes.
Superintendent Matthew Brown, of the American Military Cemetery in Madingley Road, said on C2C: “We are concerned that GCP’s proposal to build a tarmac bus road across the south side of the hill would irreparably damage this unique and precious landscape, compromising the setting of the American Military Cemetery, severing historic community access routes, and paving the way for further urban encroachment in its vicinity.”
Supt Brown was also speaking on behalf of Madingley Parish Council, Coton Parish Council and heritage charity Cambridge Past Present & Future.
He asked: “Will you reject a scheme that so manifestly damages such a sensitive and internationally recognised landscape?”
GCP transport director Peter Blake said they had looked at alternative routes and considered the impact on its surroundings before settling on their preferred route.
He also indicated that there was scope to consider switching the busway to an on-road section at St Neots Road in Hardwick, where there has been concern about putting another transport route down, next to the A428.
The board heard the findings of an independent audit of the C2C scheme, which concluded the scheme can proceed to the next stage – an environmental impact assessment.
The audit - commissioned by the board to test the robustness of the assumptions and constraints of the project - was the second independent review of the route appraisal process, following the 2018 report by Arup on behalf of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA).
Phil Swann, from Central Intelligence, told the meeting that there had not been any attempts by the GCP or anyone else to influence the audit.
The board unanimously agreed to move to an environmental impact assessment.
The board also agreed to submit a Transport and Works Act order to seek planning permission to construct the Cambridge South East Transport project.
The new segregated route, along with a new travel hub near the A11, aims to give people to the south-east of Cambridge access to faster and more reliable public transport services to the city and key employment sites.
But it has been met with anger from villagers in Great Shelford, Sawstons and Babraham, who have protested against the proposals.
In a letter to the GCP, a cross-party group of elected representatives and campaigners wrote: “We are all agreed that the current proposal should not proceed.”
They said “public trust and confidence in the GCP are seriously low” and urged the board to defer a decision on the scheme.
But at the meeting, Cambridge City Council leader, Cllr Herbert, said building transport routes through the green belt is “unavoidable” and that an on-road route would not work. He said he is confident that in 10 years’ time it will be popular.
A planning inquiry is likely before planning approval could be given for the busway.
Approval was also given to move forward with the western and a revised central route option for another dedicated public transport link between Waterbeach and Cambridge.
Also approved was the eastern access scheme, which sets out proposed short-term improvements for walking and cycling along the length of Newmarket Road, along with the option of moving the Newmarket Park & Ride closer to the A14 J35.
More to follow.