Existing and mock-up image of the trainwash behind GES
Existing view and mock-up view of the visual impact of the proposed trainwash behind GES

UPDATE: In an email to residents, Stephen Kelly, Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development, confirmed on Monday 6 July that the Great Eastern Street train wash requires prior approval of the Cambridge City Council. Mr Kelly wrote:

The Council have now had a response from Network Rail and have had an opportunity to consider that response further. I have accordingly emailed Network Rail today to advise them that in the opinion of the LPA, the works to construct the train wash building require the Prior Approval of the LPA by virtue of Class A of Part 18 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning General Permitted Development Order.

Network Rail, GTR, Greater Anglia, and their contractor Spencer Group appear to have overreached their authority. See the blog post.

Please consider donating to our legal fund at CrowdJustice.

GTR, Network Rail, and Greater Anglia want to build a huge industrial trainwash behind Great Eastern Street, Cambridge, in the middle of the Mill Road Conservation Area.

An example of a carriage wash

Trains become dirty from various materials in the environment and also from their own brake dust. A trainwash is like a carwash, but on a much larger scale. In early 2019 GTR demolished an existing open-air trainwash (south of the Mill Road bridge). GTR now wants to build a much larger and enclosed facility.

  • It will be 33m long x ~9m high x 7m wide, operate 24/7/365 (main hours 18:00-06:00). It will block sun, cause noise and vibration, and pollute our environment.
  • Due to its size and location, it may end up being a primary washing point for trains in East Anglia – just 25m behind homes.
  • Little meaningful consideration has been taken for the health and amenity of residents on the street or the wider community.
  • The developers have not undergone a fully transparent planning process.

We are not anti-rail. We depend on the railway, choose to live near it, and would be content for it to continue as is. Our concern is for the industrial scale of this proposed facility and where it could be appropriately situated. Over 600 people have agreed on our petition.

We call on GTR, Network Rail, Greater Anglia, and Spencer Group to pause development until they have been through a planning process.

Below is the legal advice in full that we have sent to the Cambridge City Council. It is our position “that the carriage-wash does require planning permission and that
it is not permitted development under the GPDO. In any event, even if it is concluded that it is permitted development, prior approval is required.”

Carriagewash Opinion A Parkinson 6 May 2020

Why are we concerned?

Click here to read about why planning is uncertain

  • It is unclear that this is Permitted Development.
  • Network Rail has declined a request from the Cambridge City Council to submit an application for a Certificate of Lawful Development.
  • GTR, as the project manager, claims that it is not responsible for planning permission.
  • Greater Anglia, as the future operator, has not taken any position on planning permission.
  • None of has the entities above have provided evidence of the choice of location with respect to other available areas.

Click here to read about how threat & Impact have not been adequately assessed

  • A similar facility in Scarborough has been reported as extremely noisy. GTR claims that the Scarborough and Cambridge facilities are not similar, due to the rolling stock and type of work, but has not provided any evidence for this claim.
  • GTR claims to have finalised its plans for the location and details around the facility, but has not made those plans public.
  • GTR claims to have modeled noise over 24 hours at one similar facility, but has not provided this modelling to the public, nor has GTR provided modelling over a longer time period or demonstrated how its assumptions may or may not fit with the Great Eastern Street development.
  • GTR claims that vibration will adhere with Network Rail standards, but has not provided modelling.
  • GTR has not fully modeled noise of the aggregated sound plus vibrations of the proposed facility and all train and car movements.
  • GTR claims that approximately 33 trains will use the facility per day on average, but cannot guarantee that this will not increase.
  • GTR claims that Greater Anglia, as the future operator of the facility and as the party whose new trains may require specific chemicals, will be responsible for the choice of chemicals used in the facility. GTR claims that it would only be approving the chemicals for use on its own fleet and is attempting not to take a position on these chemicals.
  • Greater Anglia claims to have not fully chosen or assessed the impact of the chemicals to be used, and further claims that this can not be done until the trains are manufactured.
  • GTR has not assessed the impact on the conservation area.
  • GTR has not assessed the impact on property values.

Where do we get our information?

Our information is summarised from:

Media attention

What can you do?

Complain directly

  • Complain about the project to the developer: Email Chris Penn: chris.penn@gtrainway.com attn Steve Lammin, GTR’s Engineering Director.
  • Complain about construction to the subcontractor, The Spencer Group, by contacting Diane Rowe at diane.rowe@thespencergroup.co.uk or the helpline at 01482 766340. If

Sign and share our petition
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Tell government officials

Come to community meetings

Come to GTR’s meetings

Print posters and display them widely – in your house and car windows, and in approved public places. Download the A4-posters file or use the images below.