Waterbeach residents fight plans to close level crossing to allotments
Villagers are furious they could be cut off from their allotments and access to the countryside if a Network Rail plan to close a railway crossing goes ahead.
Burgess Road level crossing in Waterbeach provides direct access to the river and the open countryside for many residents, access to the popular Burgess Drove Allotments and to local businesses situated on the other side of the railway line.
But that access is under threat due to Network Rail plans to close the crossing, which would force residents to take a long alternative route.
Allotment holder Su Doughty has started a petition against the closure. She said: “The railway crossing in Burgess Road is extremely well used by the local community. Closing the crossing would mean a long detour for many but more importantly, mean that their approach to this local area of countryside would mean using a busy road rather than a quiet country road. For the many families, walkers, dog walkers, and horse-riders who use this route, this proposal seems incomprehensible, especially when the benefits of fresh air and exercise are increasingly seen as important for health and wellbeing. As far as I am aware there has never been an accident on this crossing despite the many people who cross it on a daily basis.
“Waterbeach is facing huge changes in the future and it seems even more important than ever to preserve one of the few areas of peaceful, green and open access that the village has enjoyed for generations.”
Waterbeach residents have been given the opportunity to have their say in a consultation by Network Rail, which can be found at phase2b.elyareacapacity.com.
The options are:
- Option 1 – Remove vehicle crossing rights from Burgess Drove level crossing. It would remain open for pedestrians and cyclists to use. Upgrade the surface of Burgess Drove Road for vehicle access.
- Option 2 – Close Burgess Drove level crossing. Upgrade the surface of Burgess Drove Road for vehicle access. Upgrade the public footpath to Waterbeach for alternative pedestrian access.
Residents warn both will have significant impacts on the wildlife down Burgess Drove/Road and on local businesses, and divert more vehicles down the already struggling Bannold Road.
District councillor Judith Rippeth (Lib Dem, Milton and Waterbeach) is backing villagers in their plea to keep this crossing open.
She said: “Closing the Burgess Drove/Road level crossing would effectively create a barricade for residents, barring their access to the countryside and the 80 allotments just the other side of the railway track. Allotment holders are often elderly and don’t always drive, so a short walk, perhaps pushing a wheelbarrow is manageable, but not a long circuitous route. Closing the crossing to non-motorised users would be effectively denying access and no longer providing equality of access. It would also forever change the unique environment of this part of Waterbeach Village.
“During lockdown, from my own personal experience, it was absolutely essential to have access to this beautiful countryside on the village’s doorstep for both mental and physical wellbeing.”
Waterbeach resident Ivan Gilzean said: “This really is the last piece of our village that remains untouched by developers and there is a large amount of wildlife along there which once gone will never return.”
Network Rail said: “No decisions have been made about the future of the crossing, which is why we are inviting the community to respond to the public consultation which is open until November 28, 2021.
“The feedback we receive will be reviewed as part of the consultation process and all feedback will help us to continue to develop our proposals to find the right solution for the railway and the community."