Northern Access Petition - Response
Cambridgeshire County Council have responded to the petition for the opening of the northern access. Their initial response is a firm "no" but they have indicated a willingness to consider a trial period of opening, which will now be explored with our local councillors. More to follow as this progresses.
Anyone wishing to contact Cllr McGuire directly to respond to his letter may find his contact details on Cambridgeshire County Council's website
Cambridgeshire County Council response in full
Thank you for your letter requesting the opening of the northern access to Love's Farm to all vehicular traffic. I can understand your view and the reason for raising the petition to indicate the strength of local feeling. However, as I will go on to explain, there are a number of reasons why the County Council is unable to pursue the opening of the northern access to all traffic.
During the early masterplanning stages of the development, the provision of a northern vehicular access at Priory Hill utilising the existing railway bridge was investigated as a possible option. However the rail bridge, which is owned and looked after by Network Rail, is not wide enough to safely accommodate the two way vehicular movement that would be required together with a necessary footpath/cycleway. Other options, including one way vehicular movement with installation of signals, were investigated but found to be unacceptable and/or impractical.
Consequently, the approved and implemented access strategy provided two vehicular accesses off Cambridge Road, each comprising a roundabout to satisfactorily accommodate the level of traffic generated by the development. That enabled use of the Priory Hill Bridge to be restricted to pedestrians and cyclists with use by buses and emergency vehicles secured by rising bollards located on the east side of the bridge.
Whilst I acknowledge that early planning decisions are not necessarily set in stone, attempting to change such fundamental infrastructure once a development is complete and occupied presents particular challenges. In this case, opening the bridge for use by all traffic would require substantial improvement / reconstruction of the bridge together with realignment of approach roads to safely accommodate necessary two way traffic movement.
Gallagher, who is still responsible for the road infrastructure, is rightly concerned that opening the route to through traffic would place unplanned and unwelcome pressure on the traffic calmed environment of the site. For this reason, together with the substantial financial burden surrounding the provision of a new bridge, they are not prepared to revisit the access strategy.
Consequently, notwithstanding whether or not Network Rail would grant permission for a new bridge over the very busy east coast mainline, there would be no available funding to cover the cost of the necesary changes to the infrastructure.
In view of the above, the County Council has no proposals to allow Priory Hill Bridge to be used by traffic other than buses and emergency vehicles as originally intended.
Thank you once again for raising this matter and whilst I am sorry that I am unable to offer you a more positive response, I hope that I have satisfactorily explained the reasons behind the decision.
Cllr Mac McGuire
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Highways and Community Infrastructure.