Final approval for Cambridge North Station

cambridge_north_station17:10 Wednesday 19th August 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: Plans by Network Rail for a new station in North Cambridge finally got the go-ahead. It means the new station will be built on land at Chesterton Sidings, and Network Rail say work will begin in the autumn. Let’s bring in councillor Aidan Van de Weyer, who sits on the Joint Development Control Committee. This involves the County Council, the City Council and his own South Cambs. Aidan, afternoon.
AIDAN VAN DE WEYER: Good afternoon.
CHRIS MANN: So you’ve approved Network Rail’s plans.
AIDAN VAN DE WEYER: We did indeed. Yes. I was very happy to do so. It’s excellent.
CHRIS MANN: Excellent because why?
AIDAN VAN DE WEYER: Because it’s a hugely significant bit of infrastructure that’s going to transform the whole of this part of Cambridge and beyond to be honest. Because it provides excellent links from North Cambridge to the villages, to London. It’s a key part of the Northstowe development, because the Guided Bus connects directly to the station, to the door of the station. And it’s just next to the Science Park, St John’s, the Business Park, with very good links to them.
CHRIS MANN: What some people are concerned about is OK, we need an extra train station and even more public transport for people. But it’s the parking. It’s the access, and what it’s going to do to the roads around it. Because you know what already happens at existing stations like both Peterborough and Cambridge. So what’s your answer to that?

AIDAN VAN DE WEYER: It does indeed, and this was one of the major concerns that was raised today. The parking, there’s a car park as part of it, but it’s not a terribly large one. There are plans in the pipeline I believe for a larger car park to be built alongside the railway track that could become a multi-storey car park, and that would reduce the impact on the surrounding areas, the residential areas where there is inevitably going to be quite a lot of drive parking. There is a good road link in. It’s quite close to the A14.
CHRIS MANN: Well let me just stop you there, because there is already as you know on the Milton Road dreadful traffic jams, even before that station is built, albeit there are some roadworks going on at the moment. But it’s a recipe for a disaster isn’t it in terms of traffic jams.
AIDAN VAN DE WEYER: Except that it is going to reduce some traffic. For example it will be possible to get to the Science Park by train from a lot of places, where currently people have to drive. And there will be excellent walking and cycling links around one end of the Chisholm Trail for example. And there is a very good link over to Milton. So hopefully someone who lives in say Milton who wants to go to the train station won’t have to use their car any more.
CHRIS MANN: OK. What’s the biggest issue as far as your committee were concerned? What did you have to make sure happened?
AIDAN VAN DE WEYER: Well it is actually what we were discussing, the parking and how that would work. One major change from the previous time we looked at it was a much better cycle link and walking link to the Business Park and the Science Park that Network Rail has now allowed to happen. So that was a huge improvement. There are still some issues that need to be looked at to do with the taxi rank, the environmental credentials of the building, the drainage, facilities within the building, accessibility of the building. But I think the major thing is that everyone was satisfied that the big pieces were in place to be able to approve it today.
CHRIS MANN: Obviously it will have an effect on the existing Cambridge Station, because presumably fewer people are going to alight at it. But also elsewhere, because it will change things not just in Cambridge, but around, do[‘t you think?
AIDAN VAN DE WEYER: Indeed it will. Yes. It will allow people to come from Waterbeach, Ely and beyond into North Cambridge much more easily for example .
CHRIS MANN: OK. So finally you feel that public transport’s getting a little bit more joined up. How will the Guided Bus fit into all this? Can you explain that?
AIDAN VAN DE WEYER: Yes well the Guided Bus goes directly to the Station. Where the existing Guided Bus stops at Milton Road and then you turn down Milton Road into Cambridge, the route will then carry straight on, and that’s currently being constructed, to the Station. So you will be able to get from St Ives and Northstowe directly to the Station.
CHRIS MANN: 2016 they say it will open. Do you think that’s going to be the case Aidan?
AIDAN VAN DE WEYER: (LAUGHS) That sounds optimistic to me.
CHRIS MANN: It sounds optmistic. (LAUGHS)
AIDAN VAN DE WEYER: That’s what they said. End of the year. End of 2016. Yes.
CHRIS MANN: Aidan Van de Weyer, thank you so much for joining us. LibDem councillor for Orwell and Barrington there, who sits on that Joint Development Control Committee. He himself is from South Cambs District.