Secretary of State Eric Pickles steps into row over proposed Ely bypass just days before decision is due

15:54 05 September 2014

Eric Pickles

Eric Pickles

Archant

Government minister Eric Pickles will have the final say on whether the Ely bypass can go ahead after he issued a ‘holding direction’ on the plans.

The decree means that, even if Cambridgeshire County Council opts to back plans for the £30million bypass on Monday (September 8), permission cannot be granted until Mr Pickles decides whether or not he wants to determine the case himself.

The news came in a letter sent on behalf of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to Cambridgeshire County Council this week.

A spokesman for the county council said: “This direction does not prevent Cambridgeshire County Council from considering the application for the new road, forming a view as to the merits or, if we were so minded refusing permission. “However, if members were minded to support the scheme planning permission cannot be granted until the Secretary of State has ruled whether he wants to determine it himself.

“This was not unexpected as both supporters and opponents of the scheme have lobbied the Secretary of State.

“The county council’s planning department had anticipated that a holding direction could be issued due to the complexity of the application.”

The county council’s planning committee will meet on Monday, September 8, to consider the application and form an opinion.

Depending on the decision of the Secretary of State, the application will either be determined by him or sent back to the county council for a final decision.

English Heritage has been a long-standing opponent of the plans, claiming that the bypass will spoil views and the historic setting of Ely Cathedral.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Will Eric Pickles’ intervention lead to months of delay or will it ensure action is taken to get the bypass built? Send your thoughts to Daniel.mansfield@archant.co.uk or write to Ely Standard, Alexander House, Fore Hill, Ely, CB7 4AF.

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