Alternative locations for underpass to be discussed at inquiry

PUBLISHED: 10:36 29 April 2010 | UPDATED: 13:58 19 May 2010

Residents gather to show their concern

Residents gather to show their concern

TWO other locations for the Royston rail underpass will be discussed at a public inquiry into the scheme, much to the shock of local residents. The inquiry into the compulsory purchase of land needed for the £3.7million scheme, currently planned for Coomb

TWO other locations for the Royston rail underpass will be discussed at a public inquiry into the scheme, much to the shock of local residents.

The inquiry into the compulsory purchase of land needed for the £3.7million scheme, currently planned for Coombes Hole, is set to begin next Wednesday.

But residents of nearby Morton Street were amazed to discover that documentation issued in relation to the inquiry included an alternative locations map, which outlined two other possible places for the scheme, at the Green Street/Morton Street junction, and adjacent to the A505 railway bridge.

These sites were discarded in 2005 when the Coombes Hole location was decided upon, but a Hertfordshire County Council spokesman said they must be considered by the inquiry because "they have been presented by objectors" as alternative locations.

Terry Hartga, of Morton Street, said: "We had been led to believe that the site known as Coombes Hole had been chosen by Hertfordshire County Council.

"After exhaustive meetings, site visits, questionnaires, consultation and engineering assessments, to hear that we seem to have gone back at least five years is rather disturbing to say the least.

"It was a local resident, rather than Hertfordshire County Council, who informed us that a notice showing a map of alternative locations and stating that any objections or support for these locations must be made in writing by May 4 had appeared on a waiting restriction post outside a house in Morton Street.

"As of Monday evening only the plastic securing ties remain and the notice itself has disappeared."

Mr Hartga has written to the Government office for the North East, which is carrying out the inquiry, to seek assurances that the Morton Street/Green Street option has been discounted.

He added: "There should be an apology to Morton Street residents for the lack of proper notification that the public inquiry would cover any alternative plans."

The inquiry, which is being held at the Coombes Community Centre, was called after a compulsory purchase order was issued last year to allow Hertfordshire County Council to buy up land needed for the project.

This caused uproar among affected residents, some of whom are set to lose more than half of their gardens.

A county council spokesman said: "Hertfordshire County Council has been granted planning permission for a railway crossing at Coombes Hole and is promoting CPOs at this location.

"During the statutory process for the CPOs, objections have been received which have led to a public inquiry being called.

"Alternative locations for a rail crossing have been presented by objectors, and these alternatives must be published to allow interested parties an opportunity to provide their comments or present counter-objections at the inquiry.

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