It could be us!

PUBLISHED: 12:03 02 August 2007 | UPDATED: 15:12 12 May 2010

An artist impression of the subway planned for Coombes Hole in Royston.

An artist impression of the subway planned for Coombes Hole in Royston.

MONEY to help towards the estimated £3.5 million cost of a much needed rail crossing could come from a televised Big Lottery phone-in poll. The project to build an underpass at Coombes Hole in Royston could receive £700,000 from the winner-takes-all poll.

Cllr Doug Drake: Inspiration behind interest group

MONEY to help towards the estimated £3.5 million cost of a much needed rail crossing could come from a televised Big Lottery phone-in poll.

The project to build an underpass at Coombes Hole in Royston could receive £700,000 from the winner-takes-all poll.

But it will be up against other projects from around the country - and the decision will depend on the viewers' voting.

Royston's county councillor Doug Drake said: "It is vital and in everyone's interest to support and vote for the underpass."

The scheme is one in a package of projects that has been submitted by Sustrans, a charity working on providing sustainable transport.

Lottery chiefs are planning the televised poll - Living Landmarks: The People's Millions - to take place over the Christmas period and expect to have between £25 million - £50 million to distribute.

Big Lottery chairman Sir Clive Booth said: "We are tremendously excited about Living Landmarks."

He said the Lottery would be giving cash to "ground-breaking projects that capture the imagination of communities".

The bid to gain votes in the phone-in poll emerged when Nigel Brigham, of Sustans, spoke to members of an interest group set-up to see the underpass project become a reality.

The inspiration behind the group has been Cllr Drake, who has been working through the corridors of power at Herts County Council to secure support for the project.

It now seems that the county council has earmarked more than £3.5 million for the project which is expected to begin in 2009.

Proposals for an underpass or a bridge over the rail lines were revealed during a public consultation exercise earlier this year.

Now the county council is working on drawing up detailed plans for the underpass which will link the Burns Road estate with the rest of Royston.

Cllr Drake said: "A great deal of effort has gone into the design and location of the proposed subway. It's a necessary cross-link."

He told the interest group that the completion of an underpass would see "the linking of one community with the other".

And Richard Boutal, of Herts Highways, said: "The rail line causes significant severance and is a division in Royston."

He said the choice of Coombes Hole as the site for the underpass was "sensible and practical".

Funding for the project, he said, was "complicated", but the county council was talking with Sustrans and was hoping to have discussions with North Herts District Council.

There have already been talks with Network Rail which has earmarked work on the line to be carried out during the Christmas period in 2009 when rail services will not be running.

The interest group was assured that the subway would be of high quality design and include closed-circuit television.

Mr Brigham added that the scheme had been added to the Big Lottery bid because he believed it had "a great deal of potential".


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