Coombes Hole rail underpass in Royston to be delayed by a year due to public inquiry

PUBLISHED: 12:03 04 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:16 11 May 2010

THE Royston rail underpass is set to be delayed for a year due to a public inquiry into the purchase of land needed for the scheme. An inquiry into the compulsory purchase of land needed for the underpass, at Coombes Hole, will start on May 5, and take pl

THE Royston rail underpass is set to be delayed for a year due to a public inquiry into the purchase of land needed for the scheme.

An inquiry into the compulsory purchase of land needed for the underpass, at Coombes Hole, will start on May 5, and take place at the Coombes Community Centre in Burns Road, Royston.

It had been hoped construction on the £3.7million project would take place over Christmas 2010, but a spokesman for Hertfordshire County Council said: "If the order is confirmed and/or modified by the Secretary of State, the programme for the delivery of the underpass has been revised to Christmas 2011, subject to final agreement with Network Rail."

The compulsory purchase order (CPO) was issued last year to allow Hertfordshire County Council to buy up land needed for the project. This caused uproar amongst residents, some of whom are set to lose more than half of their gardens.

Cllr Stuart Pile, executive member for highways and transport at the county council, said: "Throughout the consultation and preparatory work, we have taken care to follow the correct procedures to secure the land required for the underpass and to deal with the concerns of local residents.

"It is regrettable that we have not been able to resolve the issues surrounding the CPOs through discussions with those concerned, but at the same time we welcome the fact that these matters will be examined and debated - and settled fairly and openly - through a formal legal process.

"In the meantime, we remain committed to this major scheme, which will link local communities, support sustainable travel, and provide safety improvements for pedestrians and cyclists," he said.

Speaking to The Crow in October, Doug Drake from the Royston Underpass Interest Group - a group of stakeholders in the project - had said that he didn't believe a public inquiry would delay the underpass being built.

The Government Office for the North East will be running the inquiry, and have invited all those who made representations about the CPO to attend and share their views.

It is anticipated the inquiry will last ten days.

*A meeting will be held on Tuesday March 9 at the Coombes Community Centre to establish the order of the Inquiry.

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