Bypass ‘needs more debate’

A NEW community action group launched this week has labelled plans for Ely’s new Southern Bypass as potentially “damaging” and said that not enough thought had been given to alternative options.

Ely Crossing Action launched on the city’s Market Square on Saturday in order, members say, to encourage more public debate on the best solution to the traffic problem at Ely’s gridlocked crossing.

Back in December, Cambridgeshire county councillors backed plans for a �28 million overpass, which was designed to divert traffic from the A142 at Angel Drove using a 33ft-high viaduct over the River Great Ouse, a scheme that could be in place by 2015.

At a stall on Saturday’s market, however, the new group studied the CCC road plans with members of the public as well as photographs of Cawdle Fen, the area affected by the bypass proposals.

They also engaged in a discussion about a scheme by architect’s firm Meredith Bowles to unblock the traffic with a new deeper underpass and simultaneously create a new Ely Station Gateway project.

A spokesman said: “In the county council’s scheme the landscape impact of the bypasses has not been properly considered and is only now beginning to receive any serious attention.

“The group regards the unspoilt river and fen to the east of the town as a unique and precious resource for the expanding population of Ely.”

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The spokesman added that the scheme would transform the experience for tourists and commuters and called CCC’s favoured option “a double whammy” for Ely, saying it was “simultaneously damaging its landscape setting and failed to achieve the necessary overhaul of the station area”.

Cllr Ian Bates, cabinet member for growth and planning at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “The council’s preferred option to tackle once and for all the issues of traffic and congestion which have blighted the south of Ely for so long is a bypass of the level crossing. This was also the most favoured option in the public consultation.

“However, before a final decision is taken, we are investigating and assessing a whole range of options which would include an underpass option. No solution has yet been ruled out so it is interesting to see the concepts which this new group is putting forward. Later this year, we will be consulting again with the public.”

Ely Crossing Action’s alternative plan, together with photographs of Cawdle Fen can be seen at: