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Infrastructure projects on the horizon
30 April 2019

We have a number of important announcements relating to proposed new infrastructure projects in our area that are likely to have a significant effect on the landscape in the coming years. Below we give updates on the progress of East West Rail, the A14 and the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.

East West Rail
Planning of the works between Bicester and Bedford are progressing with numerous surveys taking place and works scheduled to commence this autumn. Attention has also turned to the Bedford to Cambridge stretch which is the most complicated part as there is no existing line and the former line has been built on in many places.

A consultation on the route for the Bedford to Cambridge stretch closed on 11th March 2019. Initial assessments had identified five potential routes and the consultation requested comments on these. The consultation provided a commentary on each of the routes as follows:

Route A

Opportunities

  • Supports economic growth across the Oxford to Cambridge Arc
  • Faster journeys, with an estimated Oxford to Cambridge journey time of approx. 80 minutes

Challenges

  • Possible impacts on the Wimpole Hall avenue and mitigation
  • Proximity to the RSPB Nature Reserve, Sandy Warren Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Biggleswade Common
  • Relocation of Sandy station

Other considerations

  • Could support new homes:
    • South of Bedford
    • Potentially on and around the site of Ministry of Defence Bassingbourn Barracks
  • Travelling to or from Bedford town centre would require changing trains and using Thameslink services

Indicative upfront construction cost

  • Circa £2.0 billion (2015 prices)

Route B

Opportunities

  • Supports economic growth across the Oxford to Cambridge Arc
  • Faster journeys, with an estimated Oxford to Cambridge journey time of approx. 80 minutes

Challenges

  • Might require Sandy station to be re-located (if EWR serves a new station slightly to the north of the existing station rather than in the broad area around Tempsford or to the south of St Neots)
  • Might duplicate the proposed Metro in providing public transport links between Cambourne and Cambridge

Other considerations

  • Could support new homes:
    • South of Bedford
    • Between Sandy and St Neots
    • Around Cambourne
  • Travelling to or from Bedford town centre would require changing trains and using Thameslink services

Indicative upfront construction cost

  • Circa £2.6 billion (2015 prices)

Route C

Opportunities

  • Supports economic growth across the Oxford to Cambridge Arc
  • Faster journeys, with an estimated Oxford to Cambridge journey time of approx. 80 minutes

Challenges

  • Possible impacts on the Wimpole Hall avenue and mitigation
  • Proximity to the RSPB Nature Reserve, Sandy Warren Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Biggleswade Common
  • Potentially complex links with the East Coast Main Line

Other considerations

  • Could support new homes:
    • South of Bedford
    • Between Sandy and St Neots
    • Potentially on and around the site of Ministry of Defence Bassingbourn Barracks
  • Travelling to or from Bedford town centre would require changing trains and using Thameslink services
  • Serves the existing Sandy station

Indicative upfront construction cost

  • Circa £2.5 billion (2015 prices)

Route D

Opportunities

  • Supports economic growth across the Oxford to Cambridge Arc
  • Faster journeys, with an estimated Oxford to Cambridge journey time of approx. 80 minutes
  • Provides direct connectivity to Bedford town centre

Challenges

  • Possible impacts on the Wimpole Hall avenue and mitigation
  • Proximity to the RSPB Nature Reserve, Sandy Warren Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Biggleswade Common
  • Potentially complex links with the Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line
  • Avoids relocating the existing Sandy station

Other considerations

  • Could support new homes:
    • Through densification of Bedford town centre
    • Between Sandy and St Neots
    • Potentially on and around the site of Ministry of Defence Bassingbourn Barracks
  • Serves the existing Sandy station

Indicative upfront construction cost

  • Circa £2.6 billion (2015 prices)

Route E

Opportunities

  • Supports economic growth across the Oxford to Cambridge Arc
  • Faster journeys, with an estimated Oxford to Cambridge journey time of approx. 80 minutes
  • Provides direct connectivity to Bedford town centre

Challenges

  • Might duplicate the proposed Metro in providing public transport links between Cambourne and Cambridge
  • Potentially complex links with the Midland Main Line

Other considerations

  • Could support new homes:
    • Through densification of Bedford town centre
    • Between Sandy and St Neots
    • Around Cambourne

Indicative upfront construction cost

  • Circa £3.4 billion (2015 prices)

The next steps will be to analyse the consultation responses received with a preferred route likely to be announced in late 2020 / early 2021. The intention is then, following a further period of consultation on the preferred route, to submit to the Secretary of State for a Development Consent Order in 2021 with construction to begin in 2023. 

A14 Huntingdon to Cambridge
Work is progressing well on the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme which we understand is currently on course to be delivered on time and within budget. Completion is scheduled for 2020.  

Oxford to Cambridge Expressway                                                  
In September 2019, the preferred route for the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway was announced.  For the stretch between Oxford and Milton Keynes, there are two possible routes. We anticipate that a detailed assessment of potential routes in each corridor will be prepared after discussions with stakeholders and landowners. For anyone likely to be affected by these routes, early engagement with Highways England will be crucial. These route options will be put to public consultation in autumn 2019 prior to application for a Development Consent Order to gain planning permission for the scheme. It is envisaged that the road would be completed by 2030.

Also forming part of the Expressway, the preferred route from the Black Cat roundabout at the A1 to Caxton Gibbett on the A428 was announced in February 2019. Although still subject to detailed survey, a map of the anticipated route and option for the Black Cat roundabout are as shown opposite. The next stage will be a public consultation on the route with a number of events scheduled later in 2019. This will be used to further shape the scheme prior to submission to the Secretary of State for a Development Consent Order with construction anticipated to commence in 2021/2022. 

We are ideally placed to provide advice on how to maximise value and have had some notable successes with promoting land for development in 2018, achieving consents on predominantly greenfield land for some 3,000 new homes across several sites. There are approximately 2,500 homes in the pipeline in 2019.

Should you have any queries on the above or wish to discuss opportunities that may arise from these changes, please do not hesitate in contacting me.

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