Cambridgeshire Guided Busway: Inspectors Report

1.  Preamble

I have been appointed pursuant to Section 11 of the Transport and Works Act 1992 to hold a public inquiry into the above draft Order and application, and to report to the Secretary of State for Transport.

The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway (CGB) scheme is intended to provide a high quality, bus based, public transport route, linking Cambridge City Centre with Huntingdon and other settlements to the north west, and with Trumpington and Addenbrooke's Hospital to the south. Along these corridors, specially adapted buses would run on concrete guideways for part of their route and along ordinary roads for the remainder. The draft Order concerns the proposed guideways and directly associated works, including two Park and Ride sites. For most of its length, the guideway would run along disused railway formations, between St Ives and the northern edge of Cambridge, and between Cambridge Railway Station and Trumpington.  

The Inquiry ran for a total of 31 days. It was held first at Slepe Hall Hotel, St Ives, the sitting dates being 28-30 September and 1, 5-7 October, 2004. The Inquiry then moved to New Hall, Cambridge where it was held on 13-15, 19-21, and 26-29 October, 2, 4, 5, 16-19, 23-26, 30 November and 1, 2 December, 2004. I held a pre-Inquiry meeting on 19 July 2004 at Slepe Hall Hotel.

I made accompanied site visits along the length of the proposed route on 25, 26 and 27 January 2005. I also made numerous unaccompanied inspections during the Inquiry and after its close. These included two visits to the Fen Drayton Lakes, one on a Sunday, and inspections of the 'non guideway' sections of the route, both the Huntingdon to St Ives stretch, and those sections within the built up area of Cambridge. I visited Cambridge's Drummer Street bus station on several occasions; these included a Saturday morning. I also viewed the Cambridge Railway Station area.

As part of my inspections, I travelled on a wide range of bus services within Cambridge, including those terminating at Park and Ride sites, and also on one of the services linking St Ives with Cambridge. In January and February 2005, I visited Leeds and Essen, Germany to see existing guided bus systems; both visits were unaccompanied.

The applicant is Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC). Cambridge City Council (CCiC) objected to the scheme. As it explained to the Inquiry, its initial concerns included likely journey times and a number of operational issues. CCiC also has a broader concern about the role of demand management for car use in the City an issue that is of relevance to the effective working of the CGB. By the close of the Inquiry, however, CCiC had significantly modified its position. While it felt unable to withdraw its objection, substantial agreement had been reached with CCC on a range of matters and these are reflected in the Joint Position Statement (CCiC/6).

The CGB would run through two other local authority areas, South Cambridgeshire District and Huntingdonshire District. The position of South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) is set out in a letter dated 29 September 2004. While there remain some detailed areas of concern, SCDC supports the scheme (B121). For its part, Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) has not objected to the scheme.

The scheme is supported by five bus/coach operators, and some 20 other organisations and individuals (B120).

A total of 2741 objections were lodged. These included late objections and duplicates. By the end of the Inquiry, 86 objections had been withdrawn. CCC has recognised Category 1 and Category 2 objectors. Category 1 includes statutory bodies and organisations and objections that relate to property and proposed direct acquisition of land as part of the draft TWA Order (B216). Many of these property objections were resolved during the course of the Inquiry. However, 54 remained unresolved at its close. About half of these relate to Trumpington Cutting. Category 2 objections were largely from individuals and are not property based.

The main grounds for objection relate to: the lack of justification for the CGB in transportation terms; the economics of the scheme; the preference for alternatives, particularly heavy rail; ecological impacts in both rural and urban areas: environmental effects upon specific areas, notably Histon and within Cambridge City Centre; safety; and property matters.

Some 70 objectors appeared at the Inquiry, either as representatives of groups or as individuals.

The application was accompanied by an Environmental Statement (ES)(A15-A19). Another key document is the Transport Assessment (TA)(B45).  

CCC confirmed at the close of Inquiry that all the statutory formalities had been complied with.

This report contains a brief description of the area, a note of procedural and legal submissions, the gist of the cases presented and my conclusions and recommendations. Those conclusions are structured around the Statement of Matters about which the Secretary of State particularly wishes to be informed. Lists of Inquiry appearances, documents, plans and photographs are attached as Appendices.

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