Sir Jim confronts English Heritage chief over Ely bypass objections
12:01 13 May 2014
MP Sir Jim Paice met with Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, on Monday to discuss the future of the £30million Ely bypass.
The South East Cambridgeshire MP was joined at the meeting, held in Westminster, by his North East Cambridgeshire counterpart, Steve Barclay.
The Ely bypass plan was approved by East Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee back in March and was scheduled to be put before Cambridgesire County Council in April before being pushed back.
The county council was concerned over a Court of Appeal ruling involving a similar planning case in Northamptonshire and decided to push its decision back.
English Heritage has raised objections since the inception of the bypass plan, claiming that it will threaten the setting of Ely Cathedral.
Sir Jim told Dr Thurley that widening and deepening the existing underpass would do little to solve traffic problems in the area.
Sir Jim agreed with Dr Thurley that heritage concerns should be given significant weight, along with economic and social benefits, when Cambridgeshire County Council eventually debates the bypass proposal.
Councillors fear that English Heritage could ask the Government to ‘call in’ the county council’s decision if it feels heritage issues have not been adequately addressed, which would result in a public inquiry with further delay and costs.
Sir Jim said: “I strongly disagree with English Heritage about the impact on the view of the cathedral, but what really matters now is that the county council ensure they consider the heritage aspect before, I hope, deciding to give planning consent.”