Over to you Mr Pickles! Only Secretary of State stands in the way after Cambridgeshire County Council backs Ely bypass plans

Route of proposed bypass.

Route of proposed bypass. - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire County Council has left the decision on the future of the Ely bypass in Eric Pickles’ hands after voting unanimously today to approve the plans.

MP Eric Pickles

MP Eric Pickles - Credit: Archant

On the eve of the meeting, which took place at Shire Hall, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government issued a ‘holding direction’ on the plans.

The decree means that permission for the £30million bypass can only be granted when Mr Pickles decides whether or not he wants to determine the case himself.

Following the county council’s unanimous approval this afternoon, Mr Pickles can now overrule the wishes of councillors or send the plans back to the county council for a final decision.

There is no timetable at this stage for when a decision by Mr Pickles might be made.

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 and has already lobbied Mr Pickles to review the case.

News of the holding direction came in a letter sent on behalf of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to Cambridgeshire County Council last week.

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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.”

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.