Plans for Great Ouse River crossing are scrapped

New River crossing scrapped PICTURE: St

New River crossing scrapped PICTURE: Ste Greenall - Credit: Ste Greenall

A plan to build a third river crossing of the Great Ouse near Huntingdon - cutting through an attractive riverside landscape - has been thrown out by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Earlier this year the authority’s mayor James Palmer intervened to revive the idea of the crossing as part of the wider strategic picture for the area.

But now Mr Palmer has described the scheme as being “no longer appropriate”.

A third crossing of the river had been seen as a potential link between the A14 and the Huntingdon area and would have served future housing development on the former airfield at RAF Wyton - although this has been shelved.

Mayor Palmer wanted the crossing to be considered as part of improvements to the A141 and development in St Ives.

He said: “A critical part of the assessment work has now been completed and shows that building a third river crossing at Huntingdon is no longer appropriate.

“The cost and growth scenarios no longer add up, but importantly we would also fall foul of our commitment to enhancing and protecting our natural environment.

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“Given the recent major infrastructure works it was vital that we considered a wider picture for the Huntingdon area. This joined up thinking has shown that the third river crossing is not a good idea, and that other measures will deliver better results.”

Mr Palmer added: “We can now move forward with our work on improving the A141 and deliver a strategic study for St Ives that could deliver real benefits. Plans for making progress with those will be brought to the Combined Authority later in the year.”

The move has been welcomed by the Great Ouse Valley Trust pressure group.

A spokesman said: “We can now look forward to a new era where the real value of the Great Ouse valley to the economy of the county is recognised.”

Sarah Conboy, district councillor for Godmanchester and Hemingford Abbots, said: “After 11 years of campaigning, lobbying and persistent influencing we have a decision based on evidence rather than someone’s good idea.

“Whilst this is brilliant news for Hemingford Abbots and Godmanchester, we are mindful that other settlements will not be so elated as it could open the way for unwelcome development on their doorsteps.”

Graham Wilson, county councillor for Godmanchester and Huntingdon South, said: “The Great Ouse valley is a uniquely tranquil place surviving in the middle of a rapidly urbanising district with expanding towns on all sides. It contains a nature reserve, a number of SSSIs, important historic sites and is being considered as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“The construction of a new elevated road across the valley between Hartford and Hemingford Abbots would destroy these precious local meadows and cost a fortune for little benefit.”

A paper, based on the recommendations of the Options Assessment Report will go to Huntingdonshire District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Combined Authority committees for approval to progress the best performing A141 option through to the design and Business Case process and commence a Strategic St Ives study later in the year.

Councillor Ryan Fuller, executive leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, said: “Huntingdonshire District Council has been very clear in its position that we need improved infrastructure in place to tackle the existing congestion issues, and before further growth could be considered.

“The Third River Crossing and Huntingdon A141 capacity enhancement feasibility work was designed to determine if such interventions could ease congestion and make it easier for residents to move around the district.

“I welcome that the studies show enhancements to the A141 will deliver better results, will be more affordable and deliverable than a river crossing and will have much less of an environmental impact.

“The next phase of this work is to deliver a strategic transport study for St Ives and I shall be working with the Mayor to progress this through the Combined Authority to make sure that St Ives gets the infrastructure improvements it needs.”

The commitment to a feasibility study on the Huntingdon Third River Crossing was included in the Devolution Deal with government that established the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayoral Combined Authority.”