Appeal to Transport Secretary over Huntingdon Rail Station plan
- Credit: HUNTS POST
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is being urged to intervene in a bid to put plans for a transport hub at Huntingdon railway station back on track after they looked set to collapse through financial restraints.
The hub, which was also meant to boost the town centre, was part of the £1.5 billion A14 upgrade which includes the demolition of the viaduct above the station.
But now Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly and Huntingdonshire District Council leader Cllr Ryan Fuller are calling for a meeting with Mr Shapps with the aim of restoring the project.
They have written to the Transport Secretary saying the scheme had changed so much that the town would be left with a “concrete landscape dominated by taxis and cars”.
In their letter they said plans for the hub were a once in a generation opportunity to enhance the historic station building and the surrounding area, setting the scene for everything the town had to offer - including a new station gateway, townscape enhancements to Huntingdon town centre and improved access for pedestrians and cyclists.
“The initial scheme proposals for a wide, tree-lined, pedestrianised boulevard linking Mill Common and Huntingdon town centre to the train station and enhancing the setting of the listed station building, were very much welcomed,” the letter said.
“However, the current proposals have changed so significantly from the original vision that if allowed to proceed they will deliver a concrete landscape, dominated by taxis and cars, with minimal soft landscaping, a 2m high retaining wall and no enhancement to the current inadequate cycle storage facility.”
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They said it was now understood that the A14 legacy proposals could not be achieved within the scheme’s budget or approval constraints faced by National Highways.
The letter said the approval process in Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway meant “exciting opportunities” could not be achieved because the taxi rank could not be moved from the front of the station and there was reluctance to carry out planting because it meant accepting maintenance for it.
It also said the chance to future-proof the station forecourt by including electric vehicle charging points had been missed.
Mr Djanogly and Cllr Fuller told the Transport Secretary: “Works are well under way for the new link road and station area and we implore you to intervene to ensure the ambitions of the original scheme can be achieved and that this opportunity is taken to guarantee the legacy of this major road enhancement scheme for generations to come.”
They asked for support for the town’s aspirations which were being diluted by the technical approval process and resistance from the rail providers.
Brampton and Hinchingbrooke councillor John Morris, a keen cyclist and walker, has already branded the station plan as a “wasted opportunity”.