The Greater Cambridge Partnership is proposing to improve journeys between Cambourne and Cambridge using funds from central government.

The main focus of this project is to improve bus journeys in order to encourage more people from Cambourne and those arriving from the west of the City to use the bus rather than their car and thus to reduce traffic congestion.

Their preferred option is to construct an off-road bus route alongside St Neots Road, across the side of Madingley hill close to Coton village, through orchards and over the M11 before going through the West Cambridge Campus and onto Adam's Road to reach Grange Road, on the edge of Cambridge.

This scheme would run through the Green Belt and would be very damaging for habitats and landscape and so we have been campaigning against it.

We have created a slide-show which shows some of the impacts that the preferred route of the busway would have on landscape and wildlife habitats:

In February 2020 the government announced that a new railway connecting Cambridge to St Neots and Bedford will be routed via Cambourne. This will provide the mass transport system for the west of Cambridge which many people have been arguing is needed.

What it should also mean is that plans by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) to construct a very damaging £200m off-road busway between Cambourne and Cambridge should now be re-considered. There is now an opportunity to consider interim solutions such as an in-bound bus lane along the A1303, which could be achieved quickly, at significantly less cost, with less impact on the environment, green belt and local communities.

It is also worth noting that:

  • The route from the West Cambridge Campus to Grange Road would have a significant detrimental impact on one of the busiest cycle routes in Cambridge. Adams Road is completely inappropriate to safely accommodate significant numbers of buses and cyclists.
  • Although a new cycle route is proposed along the busway from Coton to Cambourne our view is that there is a much better route based on the bridleway that runs from Coton to Hardwick, as this has less of a climb up the hill and is away from traffic. Part of this route is already proposed through the GCP's Greenways project.
  • A third of the traffic congestion on the A1303 is caused by vehicles wishing to reach the M11 from the A428, due to the absence of an access road at the Girton Interchange. This junction is scheduled to be part of the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway and will surely eventually be made "4-ways" - and this would reduce congestion on A1303 by 30%.
  • Compared to an in-bound bus lane on the A1303, the proposed busway would only cut a few minutes of journey time into central Cambridge which is unlikely to result in significant modal shift to public transport and therefore the damage and costs of this scheme are not justified.
  • Since autumn 2018 the busway is being proposed as a future metro route with tunnelling under Cambridge - but so far there is no evidence of sufficient funding being available for this. What happens when the metro doesn't materialise? Answer = buses to Grange Road!

Initial proposals for this scheme included a park and ride on top of Madingley Hill which would have had a significant impact on the landscape and local habitats. We (and others) lobbied strongly against this and the preferred option is now to locate a park and ride at Scotland Farm, which we feel is the better option. 

Madingley Hill is one of the few high points in Cambridge and has locally significant landscape and nature conservation value. Indeed, the founders of our charity purchased land in this area to prevent it being damaged by urban sprawl and to protect the views of Cambridge. We still own land which the bus route would cross and which is covenanted by the National Trust.

Today we are continuing our founders’ efforts by opposing this proposal and pressing the GCP to put an eastbound only bus lane alongside the A1303. Or alternatively, to think long-term and create a new metro system with a transport interchange at the Girton roundabout (click here to see our proposals for this). 

Our trustees, volunteers and staff are working hard on this in dialogue with local communities, protest groups and the National Trust.

Griff-Rhys Jones gives support

In summer 2018, Griff-Rhys Jones visited Cambridge and we took him to see the countryside which would be affected. He said “Having visited the site I hope that decision-makers will work with the local community and avoid damage here. Let’s plan for our great, great grandchildren. Something better and more visionary is needed”. 

What might the busway look like?

So far the GCP has not produced mock-up images showing what the busway might look like on the areas affected (we have asked them if they would). These photos, with super-imposed images of the Cambridge Guided Busway, might give you an idea (although the new busway would look the same as a normal road). Can you see why we are objecting?

Update January 2020

In January 2020 GCP Officers have recommended that the scheme be taken forward to the next stage (which would be a planning/transport application considered by a government inspector). The GCP Board (local politicians) will decide what to do when they meet on 19 Feb 2020.