We hope that everyone who reads this is safe and well in this extraordinary time. We realise that the current circumstances have put a lot of other things on hold and into greater perspective. But we also know that when the world returns to more normal business, we will still face the prospect of GTR and their partners attempting to develop an industrial trainwash in the middle of a residential area. This will still be wrong.
On March 26th, Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, sent a letter to GTR urging them and their partners to enter into a full planning process. Daniel has not reported a response from GTR or their partners.
GTR also cancelled their March 24 community consultation meeting due to the COVID-19 lockdown and promised a virtual community meeting in its place, but have so far failed to organise a date and time.
Mr. Zeichner reiterates the community’s point that the planning process has been opaque:
…there appears to be little transparency about what is intended for residents to
be confident the facility will not adversely impact their lives in respect of noise pollution, vibration, it
being overbearing (due to the dimensions of the facility), the use of chemicals and so-on.
He makes it clear that this project should pause for a planning process:
My view is that GTR should pause any commencement of the project until these important issues are
clarified and all questions can be answered, with the relevant details and plans supplied. While I
recognise the strategic importance of the facility in terms of helping with future expansion of the rail
network, community buy-in and support – as I am sure you will agree – is crucial for the successful
delivery of any project.
Like residents, Mr. Zeichner is pro-rail but also pro-planning: a site options appraisal for locating an industrial facility in behind Great Eastern Street, empirical evidence for claims about the impact of noise, visual, and chemical, environmental pollution, and a full consultation process.
This is about fairness for communities across the UK to a well-planned rail network. The communities through which the railway passes are both customers of the railway companies (GTR and Greater Anglia) and taxpayers who contribute to Network Rail (who own the land). We have the right to the healthy amenity of our natural and built environment. We value improvements in public transport, but that does not have to come at the cost of degraded quality of life. The Anglia Region Long Term Planning Process should explore the many existing industrial and very sparsely populated areas that could support improved rail infrastructure.