Underpass plans upset residents

AS the starting date for work on Royston’s controversial railway underpass draws near, many residents are still upset by the plans.

The building of the �3.8million underpass, which will run underneath the railway line at Burns Road, will commence in March, but objections have come in various forms.

Paul Jeray who lives in Hardy Drive where most of the works are to take place, is to lose access to half of his garden for two-and-a-half months.

He said: “We will lose a large part of our garden, and it is not even that big to start off with.

“They need to use it to get access to the railway line, so from the middle of November until the end of January this year, we won’t have full access to our garden.

“Christmas is supposed to be a relaxing time of year, but there will now be a lot of noise, and I’m trying to book time off work and get away already.”

But Mr Jeray, who works at Royston railway station, said the situation could have been worse.

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“We expressed our concerns to the planning inspectorate about losing our garden for the entire year, and it looks as though they have listened to us on that,” he said.

“They confirmed to us in Hardy Drive that our gardens would only be used for the intense period of building around Christmas.

“The council knew what they wanted, and to be honest we didn’t think we had a chance of stopping the works completely. We were fighting a losing battle, but at least our garden won’t be used all year.”

Richard Ketteringham of Melbourn Road, who tabled an alternative plan for the underpass to Hertfordshire County Council in May, has also expressed anger at the plan.

“This scheme is a disaster, and is using up a lot of money for something that will not benefit many people,” he said.

“The secretary of state has given permission for this to go ahead – not an order. Royston’s councillors need to represent the town more effectively and understand what we want.”

The plans put forward by Mr Ketteringham included the underpass location moving further north, on land that is now to be used for a housing development by Fairview Homes.

“The scheme I submitted cost less, at �2.5million, and would have benefited more people, but it was not fully considered,” he said.

The plans have been defended by Herts county councillor for Royston Royston Fiona Hill, who says it is a matter of safety.

“This will connect two sides of the town, and above all is about the safety of residents as there has been evidence of children and adults crossing the railway and busy roads,” she said.

“It will help people gain access to the leisure centre, the health centre and residential properties, as well as the schools.

“The idea is not to have disruption, but because of the size of this project, there is unfortunately going to be some.”