What is the Waterbeach to Cambridge Project?
We are proposing a new dedicated off-road public transport and active travel route between Waterbeach and Cambridge. It will be one of four routes around the city linking Cambridge with the surrounding area. All have the same aim: to avoid congestion and make quicker, more environmentally sustainable and reliable journeys, into and out of Cambridge, by public transport, walking, cycling and other forms of active travel.
Why have you chosen Waterbeach to Cambridge for a public transport route?
The A10 from Waterbeach to Cambridge suffers from significant congestion at peak times, particularly at the Cambridge end, meaning that people can be sitting in traffic for lengthy periods.
Planned or potential large developments in the area, such as Waterbeach New Town and the Science Park/North East Cambridge expansion, will place considerable additional pressure on the corridor, causing further congestion.
We plan to manage this with a new public transport route to avoid congestion and make quicker journeys, into and out of Cambridge, from the north by public transport, walking and cycling.
What is the timetable for the project?
We have been talking to stakeholders since November last year. In July and August of this year we carried out our first round of engagement, where we gathered feedback from the public and stakeholders.
This consultation is the second chance to give your views on the options. The feedback you give us will help us to pick a preferred route for a new dedicated off-road public transport and active travel route between Waterbeach and Cambridge.
Once our Executive Board approves a preferred route we will do more detailed work to come up with a set of detailed route alignments. We will set out these more detailed plans in a further public consultation before a final decision is made.
We aim to start construction around 2025.
Which is the current preferred route?
We have no preference. Our transport consultants, Atkins, have identified four broad areas of interest where a new dedicated off-road public transport and active travel route between Waterbeach and Cambridge could be accommodated. The feedback we get from stakeholders, transport users and the public will be important when defining the options to take forward
Looking at the four areas of interest there are clearly some existing developments within the areas of interest. How would you deal with this?
We are not considering detailed route proposals at this very early stage of the project.
We have not undertaken the appropriate investigations, or heard back from any formal consultation yet, which will help determine the future approach. At this stage we are assessing the very broad picture of where this route should begin and end.
The search areas that pass through Waterbeach are intended to outline the appropriate area to consider if, and only if, it is determined that a segregated public transport route should also serve Waterbeach village. To achieve that, the route would bring it very close to residential property boundaries and potentially impact on the allotments.
A key question that we are seeking the public’s views on at this stage is whether or not such a transit-way should pass through Waterbeach village and their view of the benefits and risks of this.
Are there are other areas of interest through Waterbeach village that you could have chosen?
We have looked at search areas that followed both the line of the railway, and the A10 alignment.
Both have similar issues in terms of lack of space and impact on existing residential property and neither offer the advantage of passing close to the centre of the village.
Another option we have considered is using the existing high street, but if a segregated route is required (to support the Combined Authority’s announced requirements for the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro) then this would also be disruptive for other reasons.
Therefore, at this stage of the project and with the level of investigation and public engagement that has been carried out so far, the search area that we have proposed best meets the requirements for an option for a segregated transport route passing through Waterbeach Village.
Are the four routes that are presented here the only options for consideration?
Absolutely not, our transport consultants, Atkins, have identified four broad areas of interest based on a number of high level criteria. However, we are also open to hearing your views on routes which could either be a combination of the four areas of interest or other possible routing option that would help to deliver a high quality public transport corridor between The new town at Waterbeach and Cambridge.
Where will the funding come from?
The project will be funded by the Greater Cambridge Partnership through the City Deal monies it receives from central government.
Who decides whether to go ahead with the route?
The decision over the final route and whether to proceed to construction will be made by the Greater Cambridge Partnership Executive Board. The membership of the Executive Board can be found on our website.
Is this project proposed instead of dualling the A10?
No, it’s not. Other bodies are looking at the possibility of dualling the A10, and we are not involved in that decision. Although there is a clear relationship between the two projects, we will consider a proposed route from Waterbeach to Cambridge independently of plans for dualling the A10.
How does this project fit with the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro (CAM)?
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority is planning to construct the CAM as part of its Local Transport Plan. This project, along with three other GCP public transport, cycling and walking routes around the city, will form part of the first phase of the CAM.
We have seen changes to traffic patterns as a result of COVID-19. Does this mean that we won’t need this project?
COVID-19 has led to significant reduction in travel in the short term and that may lead to a long term change. However this project is looking to achieve two aims:-
The local economy in Cambridge is based around growing technology and specialist sectors such as biomedical research. So the need to improve public transport, cycling and walking between Cambridge to Waterbeach remains.
This project along with all of GCP’s transport projects aims to help get Cambridge moving again and support the City’s recovery from Covid-19.
What allowance have you made to electric and autonomous vehicles?
Electric vehicles are already with us and are very similar to existing vehicles. As their range and number of charging points increase, they are likely to become widespread.
We have long been clear that we are committed to the use of electric zero-emission vehicles in our public transport schemes, and that our proposed schemes are designed to be flexible so they can adapt as technology advances.
Replacing petrol and diesel cars with electric cars would do nothing to improve congestion. There is a risk that as electric vehicles are considered to be clean, people may choose to drive more and create increased congestion.
The GCP schemes are intended to promote alternatives to use of cars, electric or conventional to reduce congestion in and around Cambridge.
The future for autonomous vehicles is less clear.
Driver aids are becoming ever more common and GCP is supporting trials of fully autonomous vehicles.
However, the timescale by which such vehicles would be freely operating in Cambridge is not at all clear but is likely to be some way off.
In any event, as with electric vehicles, there is a need to promote alternatives to the use of cars as public transport, walking and cycling are less likely to cause congestion.
How will the Lockdown affect this consultation?
All of the GCP projects, both those in construction and consultation, are carrying on during lockdown.
We have had clear advice from the UK Government that project, such as this one, which will aid the UK economy recover from the current crisis need to continue.
We have designed this consultation so that all information, materials and engagement can be accessed on line without the need for face to face meetings or events.
So we welcome your feedback and encourage you to let us know your views on this project.
Did you contact those properties that at lie within the four areas of interest before you launched this consultation?
While we ran quite an extensive pre-consultation engagement process where we spoke to many people about the project, we did not contact individual property owners before the start if the formal consultation.
Four our consultation we adhere to the standards set by Cambridgeshire County Council. https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/council/communities-localism/consultations
We also apply the ‘Gunning Principle’ to all of our consultations https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/The%20Gunning%20Principles.pdf
The Waterbeach to Cambridge Project will benefit the whole area. To this end, we are assessing the broad picture of where a route should begin and end and how it can best serve users.
It is important that all of the information about the consultation is available at the same time to all those that live within the wider study area. It would therefore not be equitable to contact some property owners ahead of the launch of the consultation.
The search areas that pass through Waterbeach are intended to outline the appropriate location to consider if, and only if, it is determined that a segregated public transport route should also serve Waterbeach village.
This is a key question which we would very much like local users to consider. What would the benefits and risks be of such a route? It would pass very close to residential property boundaries and potentially impact on local allotments. Do people think that there are better options that perhaps we have not shown in our materials?
It is important to stress that initial work demonstrates the proposals could be delivered without demolishing homes and that the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s starting point for all projects is that we do not carry out compulsory purchases of local residential homes and gardens.