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Busway plans to connect Waterbeach and north Cambridge raises ‘genuine concern’

The mayor of Cambridgeshire has said he is “very concerned” by proposals for a busway to connect Waterbeach and the north…

By admin , in Cambridge , at January 8, 2021 Tags:

The mayor of Cambridgeshire has said he is “very concerned” by proposals for a busway to connect Waterbeach and the north of Cambridge.

A new busway has been proposed by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), which would form the bulk of a £53 million package of investment in transport between the two areas.

At the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority transport committee on Wednesday (January 6), the county’s directly elected mayor, Conservative James Palmer, said he is “very concerned about what is being proposed”.

He said: “I’m generally concerned about putting a busway from Cambridge North Station directly to Waterbeach Station which is probably less than two miles away, going through and along the edge of Waterbeach.

“There doesn’t seem to be to me at this moment in time any genuine reason to do so when the train has just been doubled in capacity between King’s Lynn and Cambridge – an extra four carriages on those King’s Lynn to Cambridge trains.

‘Genuine concern’

“So I’m very concerned that the short-term investment should probably be more towards the railway than a busway, and I’m worried that GCP are perhaps spending money in the wrong area or doing the wrong thing in Waterbeach at this particular juncture, and potentially a future spend could be invested more sensibly by drawing down from the money that is available or will be available from developers from the second phase of Waterbeach Barracks, which I know does include improvements to the station.

“So I have a genuine concern about what the reason is for putting the busway between Waterbeach Station and Cambridge North station and how wise that is.”

The GCP is still assessing options for the route following a public consultation, but a busway and accompanying walking and cycling provision has been proposed to “alleviate peak time congestion on the A10 and overcrowding on the King’s Lynn to Cambridge train line and meet the increased transport demand that Waterbeach new town will bring”.

No definitive plans for the route have yet been decided. The estimated completion date for whatever is decided is 2027.

Waterbeach New Town plans

The vision for the Waterbeach New Town in South Cambridgeshire District Council planning policy describes a need for high quality public transport to connect it with Cambridge and the wider transport network, and suggests a new busway as well as relocating Waterbeach Railway Station further north to better service the new development would help achieve this.

Two planning applications for the new town have been made which together propose 11,000 homes, of which 6,500 already have outline permission.

The development would potentially take over 20 years to complete, and in 2019 it was reported that the first homes could be occupied by the end of 2021.

The mayor’s comments come amid an ongoing dispute with the GCP over plans for another new busway which would connect Cambourne and Cambridge. And he has also questioned the wider GCP strategy of building busways and park and rides.

The mayor is the leader of the Combined Authority, which sets transport policy for the area.

The GCP’s proposals for four new busways connects with part of the wider strategy by the Combined Authority for a Cambridge-centred metro, which seeks to connect and expand those routes. As a result, the GCP’s plans will need to adhere to the transport policy set by the Combined Authority.

The Combined Authority has questioned whether the proposals for Cambourne to Cambridge align with the local transport plan, but in its feedback for consultations for the other three GCP proposals which include busways, the Combined Authority did not say that they are not compliant with its policies.

SOURCE

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