Mammoth plans to build a £30 million new bypass in Ely are set to move a major step forward tomorrow (Wednesday).
The Ely Southern Bypass proposals have been in the pipeline for more than a decade and tomorrow, East Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee is being recommended to approve the design, route and construction of the new road.
It was in October that Cambridgeshire County Council submitted a formal planning application for the new bypass to the district council.
To date, the proposals have received a mixed reaction from local residents and organisations.
While some say the bypass is the only way congestion will be reduced in the A142 and Station Road area, others fear the new route will have damaging effects on both the views of Ely Cathedral and local wildlife.
Among those against the scheme is the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which lodged a formal objection to the plans and is calling for a public inquiry to be held.
But Scott Jackson, the district council’s planning officer in the case, insists the positives the bypass will have outweigh the negatives, and is recommending that the proposals are approved.
He said: “It is agreed that the proposed Southern Bypass, by virtue of its rural location, its scale, height, associated infrastructure and mass, will have a long-term and significant impact on the setting of Ely Cathedral, its conservation area and upon the relationship that the Isle of Ely has with the surrounding Fenland landscape.
“Whilst the visual impact of the proposed scheme on the landscape can be mitigated to some extent by planting and landscaping proposals, the fact remains that this infrastructure project will have a significant impact.”
He says the bypass will reduce journey times between the A10 and Stuntney Causeway, reduce delays along the A142, reduce the potential for rear end shunts as a result of queuing traffic, lower the strike rate on the railway underpass and on the level crossing, contribute towards the attractiveness of the Station Gateway area by providing a safer environment and reducing pollution levels and allow freight and public rail traffic to increase through Ely.
He said: “It is considered that the public benefits of the scheme outweigh the harm to the designated heritage assets in this case.
“Therefore it is recommended that the planning committee supports the planning application in principle.”
Even if the committee approves the proposals, the fact it is a statutory consultee in the planning process means the final decision lies with the county council.
Confirmation by the district council will however be a significant milestone.
Cllr Ian Bates, the county council’s cabinet member for growth and planning, said: “We have done all we can through the planning process to mitigate the impact of the proposed road on the landscape.
“Ultimately we all must remember this project has been brought forward in response to the demands of the vast majority of residents to do something and we are determined to not let them down.”
The meeting is being held at St Mary’s Church Hall in St Mary’s Street, Ely, at 2pm.
Members of the public are welcome, although numbers will be restricted.