We are now seeing progress on the ground as well as on paper, I am happy to report.
Now that certain planning conditions are cleared, some physical clearance of vegetation has been possible in advance of the bird nesting season. This work is adjacent to the railway, on Ditton Meadows, and the old Mildenhall branch. Any remaining track here should have been removed by the time you read this. During construction, this route will be used for access and afterwards it will become a branch of the Chisholm Trail. Also, there should have been some work and new planting near Newmarket Road.
In early January permission was granted by the National Planning Inspectorate to widen the existing path over Coldham’s Common. The crucial words from the Inspector’s eight-page report are:
In my view, the benefits of the scheme for the public outweigh the visual impact of the works. It has not been shown that the proposed works would have an adverse impact on any archaeological remains or features of historical interest. Further, it cannot be determined that the scheme will have a significant effect on the ecology of the area. (para. 35)
There are some minor conditions given in this permission, in addition to the prior ones from the Joint Development Control Committee. These will need to be discharged before or during construction. It would be good if these works could be completed before cattle graze this area in the summer.
I’ve had sight of some draft plans for a full application of a revised ‘Barnwell Cafe’, which may have been submitted by the time you read this. All the hard standing of the loading area has been removed as well as the retaining wall. Loading and unloading will take place adjacent to the somewhat smaller car park. No motor vehicle would normally cross the route of the Chisholm Trail and the car park will be of a permeable material. This will vastly reduce the amount of impervious tarmac surface and permit a much improved landscape plan. This should satisfy the major concerns raised previously.
The demise of Carillion has set back signature of a contract for full works, including the bridge and underpass, but preparation, site investigation and clearance work continue, as does work to fulfil the many conditions.
Negotiations in the railway area continue. Information, via Railfuture, suggests that more rapid progress towards a Cambridge South station and ‘East-West Rail’ may mean an extra island platform at Cambridge station. This could open the way for the long-awaited eastern station entrance. That would give much extra value to the east-side Chisholm Trail, but also means more pressure on space. We cannot expect an agreement for an east-side Chisholm Trail until more detail for revised track layouts is available. On the west side of the railway, there are also issues with the final plans for the Mill Road Depot site, which are discussed in a preceding article.