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The GCP plans to build a busway from Cambourne to Cambridge, but is it a busway or is it a road?

The proposed Cambourne to Cambridge tarmac busway (C2C) is in danger of becoming a reality. CBAG was formed to oppose the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s (GCP) plans to put a high-speed route joining Cambourne and Grange Road through Coton.  This would be catastrophic for the people living near it, and the accompanying in-fill housing would make us a suburb of Cambridge.  We wish to retain the character of the necklace villages, of which Coton is one. They form an important backdrop to the City.

  • For the last 5 years the GCP have been determined to develop a bus route from Cambourne to Grange road.
  • Originally the scheme was intended to be a Busway similar to the one that runs into Cambridge from St Ives, however, over time this has changed.
  • Although the proposed route has not changed since the beginning, the structure has. The GCP is now planning to build what essentially is a 15 meter wide tarmac road! This may accommodate high speed buses and coaches, tourist coaches, electric cars, emergency vehicles and eventually the high-speed day and night CAM. (Cambridge Automatous Metro)
  • The mayor does not think it is reasonable to do this. Do you?

What is proposed.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership is progressing plans to build this new tarmac road to carry people from Cambourne to Grange Road in Cambridge. The proposed route comes through Hardwick in close proximity to the houses on St. Neots Road, over the fields on Madingley Hill, behind the school and houses on the High Street, across Cambridge Rd, goes through the orchard and on over a new M11 bridge via the West Cambridge Site.

What does this mean for you and the village?

First of all, the busway will bisect the enormously attractive fields above the village with a tarmac road carrying frequent vehicles. It is proposed that the same route is used for the CAM which will have vehicles running at speed day and night. Think what that will do if you need to drive up Cambridge Road in the morning or evening. We suspect that the GCP may close Cambridge Road to through traffic. The environmental damage would be enormous – a view shared by the National Trust, Cambridge Past, Present and Future and many others. There will be extra noise and there will be pollution from rubber tyres. But there is a far more sinister aspect to this proposal that you should be aware of. The GCP’s own business case only adds up if there is massive development along the length of the route. We might feel safe today because we live in the Green Belt, but once there is a new tarmac road running through it, wholesale development of the fields to the North of the village is likely to follow and this will forever change the character of our village. Plots infilling just to the north of the High Street opposite Whitwell Way up to the proposed route have been put forward in the latest call for sites (sites under consideration are shown in red in the map below). This village community as we know it will cease to exist.

call-for-sites-map

The GCP’s proposals are deeply flawed at many levels. We can find fault with almost every aspect of their plans:

  1. They have not demonstrated the demand for a bus service to Grange Road. The majority of commuters from the west do not want to go to Grange Road. The demand is likely to fall even further post pandemic. The business case with a BCR of 0.42 is pathetic.
  2. They have stubbornly refused to engage with us and other community groups over alternative routes. We believe an on-road route is practical; a Northern route along the existing transport corridor of the A428 to Girton, making the Girton Interchange into an all-ways junction would probably remove the need for a separate bus route altogether.
  3. A big mistake is to ignore the impact of the proposed East West Rail link. https://www.eastwestrail.org.uk/ With its proposed stop in Cambourne, the train would offer a rapid journey time to Cambridge Station via the new Cambridge South station or Cambridge North as opposed to a long bus journey via Grange Road.
  4. The costs of the busway are likely to be about £200m. All that money just to shave a few minutes off the journey time to Grange Road compared with an on-road solution which the GCP itself originally estimated would cost £18m.

What is happening next? The GCP knows that this proposal will have to go to a Public Inquiry. In preparation for that, the GCP has commissioned an “independent” audit of its own actions to date. https://www.greatercambridge.org.uk/transport/transport-projects/cambourne-to-cambridge/cambourne-to-cambridge-independent-audit

The intent is getting a big tick from the auditor demonstrating that the GCP has acted properly, consulted fairly, fully considered all the options and therefore this proposal should be approved at the Public Inquiry stage. At the same time as doing the audit, the GCP is conducting an Environmental Impact Study. Essentially this is likely to be a sham saying that the adverse environmental impacts will be minimal. To give you a flavour of how they argue their case, the GCP has previously said that laying a 15-metre-wide tarmac busway through the fields and planting a hedge beside it will increase biodiversity. This is greenwashing. (We have yet to meet a rabbit that prefers tarmac to grass!)

What needs to be done. The whole community needs to swing into action on this. Now the “independent” auditor is appointed we need a real demonstration of the strength of feeling about the busway. The timetable for the audit will be published on the GCP website in the next few days.

We are linking forces with Save the West Fields, Hardwick villagers and resident’s groups across Cambridge who are also opposed to this proposal.

We will be organising a Zoom meeting for village residents in February at which we will make a detailed presentation on these issues to the village and answer your questions. By that time the auditor will have appointed a transport consultant to review GCPs business case and we will be able to advise you as to how you can make your views known and who you should write to.

In the meantime, we understand the Parish Council is seeking professional advice again. We also need at least two more volunteers with energy and ideally lobbying experience to help CBAG.

If you have any questions, or would like to join the CBAG mailing list, contact us via emailcbag@gmail.com

Marilyn Treacy

on behalf of your CBAG team.

January 2021

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