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Victory for our Save Our Waterbeach Homes campaign as GCP rules out demolishing cottages for busway



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Residents are celebrating after the Greater Cambridge Partnership ruled out demolishing their homes to build a new busway.

It follows a petition launched by the Cambridge Independent and signed by almost 1,700 people in support of the villagers in Waterbeach.

Celebrating the success of the Save Our Waterbeach Homes campaign are, from left, David and Fiona James, Paul Oliver and Amanda Oliver, Andrew Cotton and Naomi Wright and Gareth Wright. Picture: Keith Heppell. (47872272)
Celebrating the success of the Save Our Waterbeach Homes campaign are, from left, David and Fiona James, Paul Oliver and Amanda Oliver, Andrew Cotton and Naomi Wright and Gareth Wright. Picture: Keith Heppell. (47872272)

We broke the news to Liz Barton, head of communications for a global veterinary specialist company, who lives in one of the cottages. She said: “I’m beaming from ear to ear – it is such a relief. It has just been hanging over us. We were cautiously optimistic because there had been such a vehement response to the potential for going through homes, but until you have got it in writing there is always that uncertainty so it is fantastic to hear that it is now in black and white.”

The GCP launched a consultation last year about four suggested routes for a new busway linking Waterbeach New Town with Cambridge. Three of the four routes would go directly through a small group of historic cottages on the edge of Waterbeach.

A report to the GCP’s joint assembly meeting on June 10 recommends that a western and a revised central route option for a dedicated public transport link are taken forward as preferred options for further assessment in the next phase of the project.

This means all potential corridors for a public transport route that could affect homes or the allotments in Waterbeach are no longer being considered.

Residents say they feel the campaign against the proposals played a “huge part” in their success.

Gareth Wright, an radiographer, said: “There was just a hand-delivered note through the door when I came home.

“It’s quite a shock but also a huge feeling of relief. We are slightly shocked. My wife and I had to read the note about three times to make sure we had read it right.

“My wife Naomi was quite emotional when she heard the news. She said you don’t realise how much it has weighed on your mind – you try to block it out – until the pressure is finally released.

“We suspected they had never even been to look at the site to see how impractical it would be.

Residents and allotment holders who would have been affected by the proposals. From left, Andrew Williamson, with daughter Charlotte, Elizabeth Barton, with daughters Lily, 8, and Florence, 6, Gareth Wright and Sandra Hodkinson. Picture: Keith Heppell
Residents and allotment holders who would have been affected by the proposals. From left, Andrew Williamson, with daughter Charlotte, Elizabeth Barton, with daughters Lily, 8, and Florence, 6, Gareth Wright and Sandra Hodkinson. Picture: Keith Heppell

“I think it is a victory for the campaign. If no one had done anything then in two years time this would have been a busway through here. These things often take the route of least resistance. Hopefully we provided enough resistance to prevent it.”

He added: “I have my big magnifying glass out so I can see the detail this time of what they are proposing.”

Cambridge Independent editor Paul Brackley said: “We are delighted that the GCP has listened and that our campaign has been a success. This was a huge worry for residents and we’re glad it is resolved.”

Concerns have been raised that the GCP’s preferred routes will impact a group of bungalows in Landbeach, but this has been quashed by the authority.

A GCP spokesperson said: “The A10 route to the north of Cambridge suffers from significant congestion, with thousands of new homes and jobs planned in the area – including Waterbeach New Town. It is vital we invest in significantly improved public transport and active travel routes now to help people get around.

Author Penny Hancock in her Waterbeach cottage. Picture: Keith Heppell
Author Penny Hancock in her Waterbeach cottage. Picture: Keith Heppell

“As we said last year, the GCP’s starting point for all projects is we do not carry out compulsory purchases of residential homes. We must follow Department for Transport guidelines and consider all viable options before ultimately identifying a preferred scheme. Neither the western or revised central routes being taken forward would require the demolition of homes to be delivered.

“The project would provide segregated public transport route to Waterbeach New Town which could also include on-road bus links to Waterbeach as seen with the existing Cambridge Busway at Northstowe. Like all GCP projects, the scheme would complement any other emerging transport projects or improvements to meet the area’s transport needs in the future.”

Read more from our campaign

Our petition urges Greater Cambridge Partnership not to demolish Waterbeach homes

Save Waterbeach Homes campaign: We urge GCP board members to safeguard family properties

Join our campaign to save Waterbeach village homes from demolition

October 2020: Waterbeach homes under threat to make way for bus route



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