Lottery success could see share of £50m for project

PUBLISHED: 12:39 27 September 2007 | UPDATED: 15:16 12 May 2010

A view of the proposed rail crossing subway at Coombes Hole, Royston – Pic: Chris Wilkinson

A view of the proposed rail crossing subway at Coombes Hole, Royston – Pic: Chris Wilkinson

ORGANISERS were hoping today (Thursday) for a show of public support over proposals to build a rail underpass. The mid-morning event at Coombes Hole in Royston was seen as the beginning of a publicity campaign in a bid to gain a share in a £50 million Big

ORGANISERS were hoping today (Thursday) for a show of public support over proposals to build a rail underpass.

The mid-morning event at Coombes Hole in Royston was seen as the beginning of a publicity campaign in a bid to gain a share in a £50 million Big Lottery pay out.

Plans for a rail underpass linking the Burns Road development and the rest of Royston are included in a bid for Lottery cash from the sustainable transport charity Sustrans.

Success in a television poll in which projects will be competing head-to-head could mean at least £700,000 being contributed from the Lottery towards the £3.2 million project.

The project is one of 79 nationwide schemes in a portfolio submitted by Sustrans for the Lottery competition in its Connect2 scheme.

Sustrans will learn next month whether its submission has been accepted for the television poll competition when viewers will be able to vote for one of the projects.

A team representing Sustrans will be shortly making a presentation to the Big Lottery on the value of the schemes it has included in its submission.

Today (Thursday) is seen as an exercise in giving publicity to the Big Lottery bid - and making the public aware of the division caused by the railway track.

The Big Lottery is running the competition under the title of Living Landmarks: The People's Millions.

In recent months, Royston county councillor Doug Drake has set up an interest group which has been monitoring progress on the Coombes Hole project.

He told an earlier meeting of the group that the development of a rail crossing would see "the linking of one community with the other".

"A great deal of effort has gone into the design and location of the proposed underpass," he said. "It's a necessary cross-link."

The move to provide an underpass could see the end of more than 20 years of campaigning to have a safe rail crossing installed.

The site at Coombes Hole was chosen after a public consultation exercise when it became apparent that it was the most "sensible and practical" place for the rail crossing.

Proposals for the underpass has gained the support of North Herts District Council and it has already earmarked £60,000 in next year's budget as a contribution towards the scheme.

Work on the project is expected to begin at Christmas, 2009.

Meanwhile, Big Lottery chairman Sir Clive Booth has said that the schemes which will be included in the viewers' vote poll in December will be "groundbreaking projects that capture the imagination of communities".

And Nigel Brigham, regional manager for Sustrans, said the rail crossing scheme had been included in the Connect2 bid because it has "a great deal of potential".

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