Bypass is key to prosperity

PUBLISHED: 13:52 19 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:20 04 May 2010

A VISION for Ely as a 21st Century Garden City hinges on the £27 million Southern Bypass getting the go-ahead. But consultants, who have drafted the city s Master Plan have warned there is a high risk of it not being built or being seriously delayed. If t

A VISION for Ely as a 21st Century Garden City hinges on the £27 million Southern Bypass getting the go-ahead.

But consultants, who have drafted the city's Master Plan have warned there is a high risk of it not being built or being seriously delayed.

If the road fails to materialise, it could kill Ely's dream of becoming a sought after centre for investors.

"There is no doubt that the southern link road is critical to achieving overall success," said Cllr Brian Ashton, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council.

And Cllr Peter Moakes, head of the council's strategic development committee, said: "You cannot walk away from risk. We have played it down. We haven't got an answer. The top of everyone's list is the Southern Bypass."

The worries were expressed as the £49,000 Master Plan - the vision for Ely over the next 20 years - was officially launched.

It includes ambitious plans to create a continental style market place, build plush riverside homes with their own moorings, add new gardens and parks and more waterways.

Up to 5,000 new homes could be built along with a new health centre, secondary and primary school and an £11 million leisure village.

Around 6,000 new jobs could be created and the city's railway crossing could be closed to traffic, creating an impressive Gateway to the City.

The A142 would be downgraded to form a tree-lined avenue and there could be hotels and modern apartments with balconies overlooking the Market Place.

Ely's population is expected to grow by 50 per cent over the next 20 years to around 28,000.

"To attract the investment needed to achieve the vision, the city needs to expand its residential and working population," said the Master Plan. "This needs to be linked to building a new southern link road."

"Without the Southern Bypass, there is an awful lot that needs doing that we can't do," said Cllr Mike Rouse, leading the Master Plan project. "The one thing that has come out of this is the need to sort out the infrastructure."

The Southern Bypass project was rejected for Government funding around two years ago and, at the time, was not expected to come up for consideration again for 10 years.

But councillors are confident that by taking their new Master Plan to Westminster they will change the mindset.

"We have a very coherent plan for the future growth of Ely than ever there was before," said Cllr Ashton.

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