A SECOND consultation on the western half of the proposed A14 improvements – which was forced on the Highways Agency following a legal challenge by people in the Offords – will begin on December 1. The process will involve a series of eight public exhibit
A SECOND consultation on the western half of the proposed A14 improvements - which was forced on the Highways Agency following a legal challenge by people in the Offords - will begin on December 1.
The process will involve a series of eight public exhibitions along the proposed route between Ellington and Cambridge Services, including a new southern bypass for Huntingdon.
The development is part of a £490million improvement scheme along the 22 miles between Ellington, in west Huntingdonshire, and Fen Ditton, north-east of Cambridge. It includes widening the A14, reducing the number of junctions and providing parallel roads, up to four lanes wide, for local traffic.
It could also include demolishing the existing A14 viaduct at Huntingdon station after the new bypass is built, to make way for huge improvements to Huntingdon town centre and to reduce traffic on the ring road and through Godmanchester.
The original consultation 18 months ago included just two schemes - a new six-lane bypass with the viaduct demolished and a four-lane bypass with the existing road retained.
The Offords cried foul on the grounds that an indicative route from the 2001 Cambridge-Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study was not included. The Highways Agency said it would have been unbuildable. The High Court refused a judicial review of the process, but it was allowed by the Court of Appeal after the agency voluntarily admitted that it had not followed its own consultation procedures.
The re-consultation, with the HA not declaring its route preference, is part of an agreement to avoid the scheme being delayed even further by a judicial review.
Three routes will be consulted on: the original route to which the villagers objected on the grounds of visual and noise intrusion, the CHUMMS indicative route through the Buckden landfill site and a more northerly route skirting Godmanchester.
The route through the landfill site, where the ground is unstable, is likely to remain unbuildable at an affordable cost, and it is suggested the environmental impact of the original route would be felt by far fewer people than the Godmanchester option - but the HA is not allowed to say so until it announces a preferred route, probably in the spring or summer.
Inevitably, the challenge has delayed the start of construction work, possibly until 2010, though the agency hopes it may be able to do some preparatory work on the Swavesey-Fen Ditton widening in 2009.
The consultation starts in hostile territory - Hilton is the only settlement apart from the Offords to have raised significant numbers of objections.
The exhibition programme is:
Friday December 8: Hilton Village Hall, 2-8pm.
Saturday December 9: Offord Cluny Village Hall, 10am-4pm.
Monday December 11: Buckden Millennium Community Centre, midday-8pm.
Wednesday December 13: Hemingford Pavilion, Hemingford Grey, midday-8pm.
Thursday December 14: Queen Elizabeth school hall, Godmanchester, midday-8pm.
Thursday January 11: The George Hotel, Huntingdon, midday-8pm.
Friday January 12: Fenstanton Church Centre, midday-8pm.
Saturday January 13: Memorial Centre, Brampton, 10am-4pm.
Highways Agency staff will be on hand on each occasion to explain the options. Closing date for comments is March 9 next year.
The agency will be delivering leaflets to homes and businesses in the corridor between Ellington and Fen Ditton next month.