Planning application for Ely southern bypass submitted

Ely Bypass. River bridge visualisation from north with walkway.

Ely Bypass. River bridge visualisation from north with walkway. - Credit: Archant

It could prove to be one of the most divisive infrastructure projects of this decade but Cambridgeshire County Council has today revealed detailed plans for the Ely southern bypass for the first time.

Ely Bypass. A new walkway and pedestrian route

Ely Bypass. A new walkway and pedestrian route - Credit: Archant

The project is estimated to cost up to £30million and, it is hoped, will help relieve the growing burden of traffic congestion in and around Ely's train station, a key artery into the city.

Ely Bypass. Rail bridge visualisation from south.

Ely Bypass. Rail bridge visualisation from south. - Credit: Archant

A significant number of residents and businesses have, through this paper, expressed their desire for the bypass to go ahead but they are set to go head-to-head with environmental campaigners who believe the bypass will blight views of Ely Cathedral and harm wildlife in the area.

Liberal Democrat councillors have also called for a cheaper underpass option to be explored.

In its planning statement, the county council notes: The sensitivity of the environment and, in particular the special circumstances of works within the landscape setting of Ely Cathedral and the city of Ely, have emphasised the importance of the design and development process and the inappropriateness of a standard highway approach.'

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Knight Architects, who have put together a 32-page planning statement on the bypass, said the viaduct that will take cars over the River Great Ouse will not blight views of Ely Cathedral and will, instead, become part of the landscape.

County Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet member for Growth and Planning said: 'The need for a solution to the congestion on the A142 has been known for many years. This has become more urgent since surveys in 2010 revealed the railway crossing was closed for up to 35 minutes every hour. We also know the problem is likely to get worse as rail services using the line increase.

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'We have worked incredibly hard to develop plans which minimise the impact on the landscape and historical setting of Ely and it's Cathedral. We have striven through the designs process to create a scheme which is an asset to the area. I know well that there are a small number of people who oppose our plans but I also know there is a significant majority who want us to get on and build this road now.'

Councillor James Palmer, Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: 'Building the Ely Southern Bypass will bring real benefits to the city, East Cambridgeshire and the region. The new road will not just take traffic out of the city - it will allow us to redevelop the station gateway area turning it into a huge asset for the District. While we also know some people are worried about cost, the whole project must be seen in context for it is estimated that the bypass will save more than two and a half times its cost over its lifetime through reduced congestion. People often tell me they want the road built now – well I think we are making real progress to make these plans finally a reality.'

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