New town plans could allow for bypass to be built

EARITH and Willingham should get a new bypass when development of the 9,500-home new town of Northstowe goes ahead, county councillors believe. Construction traffic will add to congestion on the already busy and crumbling B1050, which needs constant patchin

EARITH and Willingham should get a new bypass when development of the 9,500-home new town of Northstowe goes ahead, county councillors believe.

Construction traffic will add to congestion on the already busy and crumbling B1050, which needs constant patching to prevent the carriageway-side bank collapsing into the river, closing the road completely.

While this might be welcomed by villagers in Willingham, who would lose through traffic, the road is a vital link for residents of Colne, Bluntisham and Earith.

County Councillors Shona Johnstone (Willingham) and Steve Criswell (Somersham and Earith) fear the added pressures of Northstowe and its construction vehicles could bring traffic to a standstill.

In its response to the Northstowe planning application Cambridgeshire County Council has asked for more in-depth traffic modelling and if this shows a by-pass is needed then the developers should help pay for it.

Cllr Criswell said: "Residents in Bluntisham and Earith cannot be expected to endure the increased traffic problems associated with the Government's growth agenda without mitigating measures. Funding must be forthcoming to improve the road network in high growth areas such as Cambridgeshire.

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"There is already high volume of traffic on the A1123 through Bluntisham and through Earith High Street, including the infamous George Corner junction. Much of this is heavy commercial vehicles, including quarry traffic from Needingworth and the east-west route to avoid the A14.

"At peak times Willingham can only be described as a bottleneck, causing long queues through a congested village and this can only get worse."

He predicted that flooding between Earith's two bridges was likely to worsen as a result of flood-prevention schemes further upstream on the Great Ouse.

Cllr Johnstone added: "I support the council in its objections to the Northstowe plan and the need for better transport plans. Anyone who drives our local roads knows how busy they are, as well as the fact that some are at a risk of flooding and run perilously close to the Old West Riverbank.

"With all this growth we need to make sure the proper transport links are in place and paid for as much as possible by the developers or Government. This by-pass is vital to stop local roads becoming gridlocked.

"There's no doubt about the desperate need," she told The Hunts Post.

She predicted some delay to the Northstowe development, "but that doesn't stop the traffic pounding through.

"The ultimate would be for the bank to collapse, which would force the issue. It is constantly having to have work done to it."

It was the sort of scheme the county council envisaged the proceeds of a Cambridge congestion charge - on which officers are still talking to Department for Transport officials - could fund, she added. The political decision on going ahead with a scheme is stalled for up to a year to await the outcome of a "transport commission" that is expected either to fine-tune the existing proposals or recommend the plan be scrapped.

The county council's initial bid sought Whitehall cash for public and other transport improvement costing £517million as sweeteners to make the charging regime acceptable.

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