Delay for rail underpass

PUBLISHED: 10:09 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:53 11 May 2010

WORK on a £3.25 million rail underpass will be delayed for a year. Plans to install a section of the construction under the railway line at Coombes Hole, Royston, will not now be carried out until Christmas 2010. The delay is because of legal issues over

WORK on a £3.25 million rail underpass will be delayed for a year.

Plans to install a section of the construction under the railway line at Coombes Hole, Royston, will not now be carried out until Christmas 2010.

The delay is because of legal issues over land needed for the project, and it has emerged that Herts County Council may need a longer period to resolve problems.

Royston's county councillor Doug Drake said he was "disappointed" about the delay.

But he said the county council would be issuing a compulsory purchase order on the lane running down to Coombes Hole, because the ownership had always been "questionable".

It is understood that any dispute over the compulsory purchase order will lead to legal hearings which could take up to 12 months to resolve.

Until any dispute over land ownership is ironed out, the major piece of work of putting the subway into place has to be delayed.

Those constructing the underpass would only have a period over Christmas, when train services are not running, to complete this vital stage of the project.

Cllr Drake said: "It is necessary for the county council to acquire ownership of this land through a compulsory purchase order.

"This will protect the land against any further claims and assure its continued use alongside the ongoing underpass project."

Meanwhile, plans are being drawn up which will be the subject of a public consultation.

These are likely to see the scrapping of an original idea on a draft plan which included a separate pedestrian and cycle track running from the underpass to the junction of Green Street.

It now appears that the opinion is that a "road" will be placed in the centre of the track with parking allowed on either side.

These plans will be displayed during the consultation period.

This will include a public exhibition in November at both the Coombes Community Centre in Burns Road and Royston Town Hall.

The plans to be submitted to North Herts District Council will be discussed before the new year by members of Royston Town Council's planning committee.

The district council's building control committee is likely to decide on whether to accept the plans in January.

Cllr Drake added: "It's good to know that the scheme is still being developed and that a planning application and consultation are imminent."

It is understood, too, that a delay to the scheme will not see an increase in the costs of the project.

About £700,000 towards the costs is coming from Sustrans - a charity working towards the provision of sustainable transport - from its success in a winner-take-all £25 million Lottery bid.

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