Was community consultation just for show? Train wash site preparation may have begun without permission

It is June 2020 and amidst the pandemic it looks like full steam ahead (!) for GTR, Network Rail, and Greater Anglia to develop their train wash facility – despite the Cambridge City Council (CCC) having told residents on May 22nd that they are still seeking advice on the lawfulness of the development.

In response to two letters from our legal team (most recently on May 6), Stephen Kelly has indicated that Network Rail is dragging its feet in responding to CCC. On May 22 Kelly wrote:

Following the Councils own advice, I wrote earlier this month to Network Rail seeking clarification on a number of specific matters to assist the Planning Authority in determining the matter of lawfulness and have not yet received a response. I have accordingly written again today to try and determine when I might receive a response from them.

GTR’s website proposes that work on the train wash was to begin in Spring 2020. We are now just days away from the official start of Summer 2020 (June 20), and residents have noted increased activity on both sides of the Mill Road Bridge (see gallery below). Construction noise has been on the rise and much discussed amongst GES residents – as we have been getting our daily exercise during the lock-down, its becoming harder to avoid the work.

Daniel Zeichner, member for Cambridge, CCC Romsey Counsellors, and residents are adamant that work must not begin before a determination of the lawfulness of the development.

Network Rail should be held to a date to respond to the CCC so that the next steps in a transparent planning process can begin,

GTR and Greater Anglia (as the developers and operators), and Spencer Group (as the construction contractors), should live up to their promise to be “good neighbours” and pause work until Network Rail goes seeks a Certificate of Lawful Development. Without it, they risk developing a facility that will be deemed unlawful and subject to legal action.