Station will be 'game-changer' but needs to meet 'high ambition'

CGI visualisation of Cambridge South rail station from the east

CGI visualisation of Cambridge South rail station from the east - Credit: Network Rail

A proposed railway station in the south of Cambridge must meet a council’s “high ambitions” on biodiversity, a council leader has warned.

Councillors highlighted the importance of the ‘game changer’ Cambridge South station for the area, but said it needs to meet South Cambridgeshire District Council’s high expectations.

While the authority remains in support of the overall project, it has confirmed its objection over concerns as to how the biodiversity impact of the project will be mitigated, and the loss of trees along the railway line.

The station is proposed to be built adjacent to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, and it is hoped the station will help relieve congestion in the area once completed.

At the district council’s Cabinet meeting earlier today (Monday, January 11), the importance of the new station for the area was recognised.

Councillor Neil Gough said: “Cambridge South station is a critical piece of infrastructure in our area which will significantly improve connectivity to the Biomedical Campus and it’s a piece of infrastructure strategically we are very supportive of.

“But equally we need to make sure that it is done in an optimal way and we have been very clear on our expectations on projects such as this that we expect mitigation of the impact to the best of the developers ability particularly on the environment.”

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Cllr Gough explained that on many items of concern there had been “significant progress” with Network Rail, with council officers being satisfied that either the issues had been addressed, or will be addressed.

He added that just two areas remain where the district council has “significant reservations”, relating to the mitigation for the loss of trees and assurance on biodiversity net gain.

Leader of the council, Councillor Bridget Smith, said that the concerns being raised by the council reflected the concerns of the people living in the district.

She said: “Cambridge South station is going to be a complete game-changer both for the health providers, but also for all the businesses around the location where it is going to be.

“It should have been delivered years ago, that’s why we have worked really hard.

“The reservations that this council has highlighted, which very much reflect the concerns of the county council as well, are absolutely the reservations that our residents would be raising with us.

“It’s about trees, it’s about biodiversity and it’s about making the most of the opportunity to enhance nature.

“Our residents expect us to be holding Network Rail to account on this.

"We’re setting really high standards for nature and biodiversity, and part of our job is to hold other organisations to account to make sure that they share our really high ambitions around this.

“Whilst we are very keen for this station to progress, it’s got to be really, really good.”

Cllr Smith added that she did not believe ‘it will take them a lot to get over the final hurdle’ due to the positive responses received so far from Network Rail.