An independent report has demonstrated that instead of damaging the green belt the proposed South East Cambridge Busway could be routed along a disused railway line. In light of the report, the parish councils of Stapleford and Great Shelford and community groups such as Cambridge Past, Present & Future are formally calling on the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) to change track.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership is planning to build a bus-only road through the South Cambridgeshire greenbelt, next to the Gog Magog Hills and exposing Cambridge’s green lung to speculative development. The proposed route skirts around the edges of Stapleford and Great Shelford rather than serving the villages.

Driven to protect its greenbelt for future generations Stapleford and Great Shelford Parish Councils, supported by crowdfunding, have commissioned an independent investigation of an alternative route following the disused Haverhill railway line. The resulting report by specialist consultancy, i-Transport, finds that:

  • The disused Haverhill railway route can meet the specifications required by the GCP. It can be fully segregated, compliant with future Cambridge Autonomous Metro (CAM), and does not require the large scale demolition that was given as a reason for excluding this route.
  • Using the old railway line would take the busway through the villages, which would increase passenger numbers compared to a route on the edge of the villages. The economic case for the GCP’s scheme relies on villagers using the new busway. The costs of GCP’s scheme relative to the benefits offers poor value for money, with a benefit-to-cost ratio of less than half that sought by the GCP Executive Board itself. 
  • Re-using the former railway would avoid damaging the green belt. The exceptional circumstances required to gain planning permission for building in the green belt can only be granted if there is not a reasonable alternative.
  • There are serious weaknesses in the process used by the Greater Cambridge Partnership to arrive at their conclusion, including a lack of assessment transparency, unsubstantiated key decisions and public consultation feedback not properly taken into account

Click here to read the report.

Stapleford and Great Shelford Parish Councils are now making a formal request to the GCP to pause its busway plans and re-appraise the use of the disused railway line as a genuine alternative. Despite consulting on transport options with local politicians, parish councils and the community since 2016 the GCP has never asked for views on re-using part of the former railway line.

We believe that we owe it to future generations who will live here to protect our green belt countryside for them to enjoy. We are incredibly grateful to the local community for donating £12,000 towards this effort. I-Transport’s report shows that there is an alternative and we now want to see the political will to look at this option properly, including giving local people a chance to have their say.

Click here to read more about this campaign.