“Council supports next stage of Cambourne to Cambridge busway”

In the context of the South-West Chainsaw Massacre in Plymouth, the prospect of ploughing a busway through an orchard hasn’t gone down well at all.

The final decision will be taken by the Secretary of State for Transport – after what is certain to be the establishment of a public inquiry by the Secretary of State. The vote at Cambridgeshire County Council starts that process.

If you want a light rail alternative such as Connect Cambridge, you can join the Rail Future Campaign in East Anglia here – they are supporting the proposals alongside campaigning for a radical improvement in East Anglia’s railway network.


You can also read the Cambridge Independent’s report here

As for the busway proposals…

Above – my reaction regarding the past seven or so years too!

But then I have been in support of a rail or light rail solution – and have asked repeated public questions about it. Clearly to no avail.

Above – video of me asking the then GCP Board Chair (and one of my local councillors Cllr Lewis Herbert (Labour – Coleridge)) about a rail link to Haverhill being part of the new set of proposals. 25 Jan 2015

Above – you can’t say I didn’t try! Here’s Puffles at Haverhill Arts Centre – the old town hall, at a meeting of the Rail Haverhill Campaign. 16 April 2014

Above – missed opportunity for Cambridge Connect? Not yet!

There’s still a very significant final stage to come.

Orders under the Transport and Works Act 1992

This is the stage that we are at now.

The motion that the County Council approved was as follows (p19-21)

Better Public Transport: Cambourne to Cambridge Project

From: Chief Executive, Greater Cambridge Partnership
Purpose: To consider the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s (GCP) Cambourne to Cambridge (C2C) Transport and Works Act Order (C2C Order) submission for the creation of a new, or significantly improved public transport route between Cambourne and Cambridge (C2C Scheme) including:

  • A new high quality busway.
  • Bus priority improvements.
  • A new Park and Ride.
  • New high-quality cycling and walking facilities making use of the emergency and maintenance access track required for the new busway.

Recommendation: The Full Council is asked to:

(a) Note the report, and the likely timescales for the formal consent process; and
(b) Agree to:

  • (i) Make an application under the provisions of section 6 of the Transport and Works Act 1992 for an Order authorising the construction and operation of a guided transport system from Cambourne to Cambridge;
  • (ii) Seek a direction from the Secretary of State under Section 90(2A) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that planning permission be deemed to be granted for the development provided for in the proposed C2C Order;
  • (iii) Authorise the GCP Executive Board:

(a) To progress negotiations with any owners of interests in the affected land
and other persons affected
by the scheme and to make necessary arrangements to acquire land or rights within the proposed C2C Order, whether by agreement or through the exercise of powers contained in the C2C Order;

(b) To progress negotiations with any affected parties or objectors to the C2C Order with the aim of avoiding, or securing the withdrawal of, any objections to the TWAO; and…

(c) To promote the C2C Order through, and participation in, any public local inquiry or other processes and procedures arising or resulting from the submission of the application for the Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO);

(iv) The delegation of powers to the GCP Executive Board to:

  • (a) Prepare the necessary documents and any other evidence deemed appropriate to support the Transport and Works Act application;
  • (b) Undertake further design development work on the C2C Scheme and progress the ongoing statutory process, including further refinements to the C2C Order prior to submitting the Transport and Works Act order application and application for deemed planning permission; and
  • (c) Deliver the C2C Scheme to practical completion subject to the C2C Order being made and deemed planning permission granted and to the approval of a Full Business Case in line with any existing agreements and in compliance with the MoU between GCP and Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) in accordance with internal governance requirements and procurement best practice and in consultation with the Council’s Section 151 Officer where appropriate; and

(v) The delegation of powers to the Council’s Section 151 Officer to negotiate, agree, enter
into, execute and serve (where appropriate) all relevant legal agreements, notices and other documentation necessary to facilitate and underpin the C2C Order including provisions to protect the apparatus of statutory authorities which may lead to ongoing liabilities, and to submit the Transport and Works Act Order application, and the application that a direction be given that planning permission be deemed to be granted together with all supporting documents, and to prepare such further documents as may be required to support those applications, save that the C2C Order application will not be made until the satisfactory completion of agreements with the landowners of three development sites, namely Cambourne West, Bourn Airfield and West Cambridge as approved by the Section 151 Officer.”

Officer contact:
Name: Peter Blake
Post: Transport Director, GCP

“Looks very complicated!”

Which is why the Department for Transport produced this:

Above – from the Department for Transport – a brief guide to Transport & Works Act orders

In it it also sets out how to object.

It also states:

“In the past, orders have been rejected or amended, or have had conditions attached to a related planning permission, as a result of objections.”

TWAO A brief guide – DfT 2013, p14

“Does there have to be a public inquiry?”

If lots of people kick up a storm and object to it, yes.

“If there are many objections, or the case raises complicated issues, the Secretary of State is likely to arrange for a public inquiry to be held by an inspector.”

Ibid, p16

Given the number of people that signed the petitions against the proposals, that almost certainly will be enough to persuade the Secretary of State to hold a public inquiry. Indeed, the statements from the GCP officers and board members appear almost resigned to a public inquiry. Furthermore, given the array of groups opposing the proposals, I think they have enough resources to instruct specialist lawyers to represent them at any planning inquiry.

Note the Secretary of State is acting in a quasi-judicial function with Transport and Works Act orders

This means they cannot phone up their local political party and ask them what might be the best electoral outcome. They can only make a judgement based on the evidence alone. That evidence will be assessed by the inspector and submitted in a report with a final recommendation – which the Secretary of State can either accept, or refuse giving reasons. If a Secretary of State refuses, they have to be on rock-solid legal grounds to do so – something that competent ministers take extensive legal advice on before pursuing. Not least because doing so leaves them open to a risk of legal challenge in the High Court.

Now that we are at the stage of Cambridgeshire County Council preparing an application on behalf of the Greater Cambridge Partnership, the only thing campaigners can do is to research and refine their arguments for when the period for objections opens.

At the same time, “do nothing” is not an option – because of the climate emergency

Which is why some of you may want to consider joining Rail Future East which is supporting one of the very few alternatives going, the Cambridge Connect plans. You can read Rail Future East’s back catalogue of newsletters here to get a feel for what they are campaigning on.

For those of you particularly interested in light rail and trams as concepts, consider joining the LRTA and find out what other parts of the UK and the world have on trams and light rail. Membership includes a subscription to Tramways and Urban Transit Magazine.

Above – Tramways and Urban Transit Magazine – back copies are available second hand too

Food for thought?

If you are interested in the longer term future of Cambridge, and on what happens at the local democracy meetings where decisions are made, feel free to:

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