Unanswered questions as rail link proposals discussed at Bassingbourn meeting
PUBLISHED: 07:03 21 February 2019
Questions about a new station and homes in Bassingbourn were left unanswered according to some who attended an East West Rail link consultation meeting over the weekend.
Saturday’s meeting at Bassingbourn Primary School gave people the chance to raise concerns about the Bedford to Cambridge line.
Five proposed routes all plan for a new station to be built at either Bassingbourn or Cambourne, but Cambs county councillor Susan van de Ven said people want a different approach to be taken.
“Many people asked, why build a new Bassingbourn station when Royston is a stone’s throw away?
“If the purpose is to provide Bassingbourn with rail connectivity, please first address the lack of connectivity to Royston and indeed Meldreth and Ashwell stations, all of which sit nearby.
“There are no bus connections and no safe pedestrian and cycle routes to these stations – a wasted opportunity and one simply rectified.
“At the same time, it was made clear that a Bassingbourn service would not connect to Royston, Ashwell or Meldreth.”
Councillor van de Ven has also raised concerns about the EWR line acting as a barrier, but was told little about access plans.
“I had a chance to discuss concerns that the new line could act as a long barrier across South Cambs, as the policy is to introduce no new level crossings,” she said.
“Unfortunately, there was little or no information on what types of access might be created and on what scale.”
Deborah Marriage – whose family have lived in Bassingbourn for three generations – was also at the meeting. She believes that the scale of the housing development proposed by EWR was underplayed, saying: “I came away from the public consultation event feeling that EWR was not presenting the full facts.
“The company’s plans for the routes via Bassingbourn would require massive house-building, on a scale that would swamp the village on all sides.
“EWR presented the proposals as a rail-line that ‘could support new home potentially on and around the site of MOD Bassingbourn Barracks’.
“This vastly underplays the scale and extent of the house building proposed by EWR.”
Will Gallagher, strategy director for the East West Rail Company, said: “Consulting at a very early stage in the design process allows us to ask the public what they think on some big questions about how we develop this railway, and the route it takes. We don’t have all the answers yet: that’s why we are consulting and we’re grateful to everyone who’s given up their time to give us their feedback on the five options we’ve published.
“Our role is to provide the best possible connections for the communities we’ll be serving, improving everyday journeys for people across the area, easing pressure on local roads and creating new opportunities to link up jobs and homes. Our role is not to design or build new housing, but to work alongside local authorities and government as they develop their plans, to make sure we deliver the infrastructure that the local area needs, both now and for the future.
“When work begins on the exact alignment we are committed to working with local highway authorities, Highways England and other groups to find the best way to protect connectivity, considering each intersection between our route and existing rights of way.
“The consultation will remain open until March 11, so we’re hoping that many more people will visit our website or come to one of our events to learn more and give us their feedback.”
Guilden Morden Parish Council met on Monday and backed thinktank CambBedRailRoad’s proposal for a northern corridor, and said they’d write to parishioners, SCDC and MP Heidi Allen to gather support.
CBRR is led by chairman Sebastian Kindersley and has been campaigning for their route – which incorporates Bedford Wixams, and new developments at Cambourne, Northstowe and St Neots before coming into Cambridge North and onto Cambridge – to be considered for consultation like EWR’s proposed routes, but it was not on the list when the consultation was announced last month.
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