Will East West Rail demolish homes still being built?
Homes still under construction in South Cambridgeshire could be demolished under proposed East West Rail routes, campaigners say.
New developments near Highfields, Caldecote, are on the routes for the £5billion line that place a station to the north of Cambourne, says Caldecote Parish Council’s EWR working party.
The routes – alignments one and nine – the working party says will also impact an area of the Bourn Airfield development.
Residents in West Drive, Highfields Road and Highfields Court have hit out over plans for a 12-metre high embankment. The parish council estimates that in Highfields 53 households are within 75 metres of the preferred route alignment and 103 homes within 200 metres.
South Cambridgeshire District Council councillor Tumi Hawkins, who represents Caldecote for the Liberal Democrats, told a recent public meeting: “By bringing it through Highfields it’s actually severing the village because it’s an embankment that’s 10 or 12 metres above ground level. It’s going to block in the village when looking at it from the main road. And this is an historic view that sets the character of Highfields and the houses that will be north of the embankment will be completely blocked from the rest of the village.”
She added: “It seems to me that they haven’t really thought this through. I’ve tried to get information out of them about how they intend to build this but nobody seems to want to say.”
A statement from the parish council working party adds: “Having a station at north Cambourne and then proceeding south has a disproportionate visual and noise impact on the entrance to Highfields, Caldecote and the Bourn Airfield development compared to the impact of any other entrance to any other community.
“Having to rise up an additional 12 metres on a hill that is already some 72 metres high has a disproportionate visual, noise and pollution impact on the surrounding area.”
The statement continues: “Fierce lobbying by the villagers to the south during the previous consultations has led East West Rail to consider a station to the north. East West Rail has staggeringly found a sliver of land across the top of Highfields that allows them to still approach Cambridge from the south. But this has been rushed, and East West Rail has failed to consider its true impact. Our view is that the route chosen should be north to north or south to south, so a north Cambourne station if a northern approach to Cambridge North or a south Cambourne station to Cambridge South.”
A station to the south of Cambourne, however, would devastate its country park and is strongly opposed by many residents, the town council and South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne, who fought for a northern site.
The working party is calling on East West Rail to consider tunnelling under the A428 and building pedestrian bridges across the fields should it proceed with its preferred route as mitigation.
However, the working party does support the routes that propose a Cambourne South station, saying it is “quicker, shorter and cheaper”, avoids impacting Bourn Airfield development and prevents a 12-metre embankment.
The statement adds: “Fewer houses demolished once the additional nine plus properties at Linden Homes are considered. This will mean 13-plus homes will be demolished for alignments 1 and 9, compared with nine for alignments 2 and 6.”
An East West Rail Company spokesperson urged people to respond to the consultation and said: “We are designing a railway for the next hundred years or more – and feedback from local residents and businesses will be vital.”
Visit eastwestrail.co.uk/consultation by June 9 to have your say.