Public inquiry will not delay underpass

PUBLISHED: 18:08 22 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:10 11 May 2010

DOUG DRAKE IS RETIRING AND IS CLOSING DOWN THE TOY SHOP IN ROYSTON HIGH STREET.

DOUG DRAKE IS RETIRING AND IS CLOSING DOWN THE TOY SHOP IN ROYSTON HIGH STREET.

THE prospect of a public inquiry into the compulsory purchase of land needed for a new underpass will not delay the project. That s according to Doug Drake, the man who pioneered the £3.7million scheme at Coombes Hole, Royston, during his time as a county

THE prospect of a public inquiry into the compulsory purchase of land needed for a new underpass will not delay the project.

That's according to Doug Drake, the man who pioneered the £3.7million scheme at Coombes Hole, Royston, during his time as a county councillor.

Mr Drake, who retired from the county council earlier this year, was speaking after a meeting of the Royston Underpass Interest Group - a group of stakeholders in the project - which concluded that a public inquiry is "likely on planning issues."

Compulsory purchase orders were issued last month by Hertfordshire County Council to acquire the land needed to build the underpass.

This enraged many local residents, who will be losing parts of their garden, either on a temporary or permanent basis.

Mr Drake said: "The prospect of a public enquiry was something we foresaw and built into the programme for construction of the underpass. If it does happen I don't think it will cause a delay."

Under the plans, the tunnel itself will be put in place during the Christmas period of 2010, as the railway line needs to be closed completely to allow construction to take place.

If this doesn't happen, it is likely that another opportunity to close the line would not arise until Christmas 2011.

But Mr Drake is confident everything will go ahead on schedule, and added: "We have great sympathy with those that are going to be affected."

A spokesman for Hertfordshire County Council said: "With any planning scheme there are processes to follow, and where compulsory purchase orders are involved there is always the chance of an inquiry.

"However, in the first instance the council will always try to resolve the situation amicably with the people involved, so at this stage it isn't clear whether a public inquiry will be necessary," he said.

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