Move to reopen Priory Lane in St Neots

The former Priory Lane access

The former Priory Lane access - Credit: Archant

A new bid is being made to reopen to traffic a long-closed road link in St Neots town centre.

A new bid is being made to reopen to traffic on a long-closed road link in St Neots town centre.

St Neots Town Council backed investigations, into reopening Priory Lane, be carried out by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and the authority will now carry out a feasibility study.

If approved, the move would allow light vehicles coming over the town bridge to turn left in to Priory Lane to gain access to the Waitrose car park area, Tan Yard and through to Huntingdon Street, avoiding the congested High Street.

But some members were worried about a potential clash with pedestrians near the bridge and with shoppers and cars around the Waitrose car park.

Mayor Cllr Derek Giles told The Hunts Post that reopening the road after more than 20 years was a “win win” situation for the town.

“The combined authority is now going to do a feasibility study. It is something which has been needed ever since it closed,” Cllr Giles said.

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“It was originally closed for a six-month period for assessment and immediately there was an increase in traffic in the High Street because people had to turn left into New Street to get to the car parks.

“The next thing we knew, a level crossing was put in. Really, it never should have been permanent.”

Cllr Giles, who wanted to gauge the level of support from the town council before the move was discussed by the combined authority the following day, said reopening Priory lane would be for light vehicles turning left from the bridge and would be one way.

He said it would be no more of a rat run, as some people feared, than turning right at the Market Square to get to Eynesbury.

Campaigns to reopen the road began almost as soon as it closed.

But Cllr Adrian Usher told the meeting: “To open that road is unacceptable.”

Cllr Charles Bober said: “It is going to be an absolute nightmare for the cars and shoppers at Waitrose.”

Cllr Barry Chapman said the town’s neighbourhood plan called for investigations into the opening of the road and that the adjacent pedestrian crossing would protect people using the junction if it reopened.

“I remember when that road closed the traffic doubling in the High Street,” he said, adding that opening the junction would help to reduce the amount of pollution in the town centre.