Fact and Fiction - Wilburton's lack of a railway station makes it a bad choice

The "fiction" and "fact" below is from the 2002 Wilburton proposal, with a comment from the current Mereham proposal added.

FICTION: Wilburtons lack of a railway station makes it a bad choice.

FACT: A common misconception and plainly not true as alternative sites considered for the new settlement have no station either. Remember: the new settlement is designed to cater for increased employment in Cambridgeshire, so it is important that travel facilities are provided where employers are located. A great deal of new employment is expected along the A10 corridor north of Cambridge and the Wilburton new settlement proposals for a rapid transit high quality bus system would serve these employment zones directly. Even if a railway station were provided at Wilburton, it would not serve the employment zones and would instead encourage economically undesirable commuting to London.

THEY NOW SAY:Buses from the Mereham development will take you to the station.

WE SAY: This is presumably a side-swipe at the Waterbeach and Northstowe proposals, which were also doing the rounds in 2002. Northstowe got the go ahead as it could be included as part of the guide bus development - although it would have been good to see the reinstatement of the Cambridge to St. Ives railway line, as this could become an important freight route as well as a passenger route along the A14 corridor. It would also reduce the number of buses that would need to travel into the already congested city centre in Cambridge - which is ideal for buses.

The great deal of new employment along the A10 also doesn't appear to be happening in such great quantities. Some companies have located in the Research Park - but it's not full, and neither are parks at Waterbeach or Ely. The employment zones tend also to be of biotech and hi tech nature - so any community which is "designed" just to cater for those will not be a real community - just a dormitory town for people who tend to work long hours and whose job may necessitate a lot of travelling (for example conferences, courses, client and customer visits). The lack of easy access to the railway network or motorway network would require further travelling in such cases.

As for commuting to London, the developers obviously haven't tried that from here. The trains are overcrowded, and journey times are excessive. That comes from real experience, not a passing statement. Cambridge, on a fast link to London, has only 20% of property owned by people working in London - and Cambridge is seen as a disireable place to live. So we do not see that as a valid argument.

OUR VERDICT: FICTION - with all the talk of building sustainable and environmentally friendly developments over the next 20 years, to limit transport for people and freight to road goes against the whole idea of sustainability. Northstowe will have a dedicated bus route, Waterbeach can incorporate and improve the railways, Mereham would have buses stuck in traffic queues south of Stretham. Where would you choose to live for a work/live/commute balance?

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