Ely’s £30m southern bypass passes first significant hurdle as East Cambs councillors give it the thumbs up

Ely Bypass. River bridge visualisation from north with walkway.

Ely Bypass. River bridge visualisation from north with walkway. - Credit: Archant

Councillors swept aside opposition to the proposed £30m Ely Southern Bypass by allowing the planning application to pass a significant first hurdle.

Ely Bypass. Rail bridge visualisation from south.

Ely Bypass. Rail bridge visualisation from south. - Credit: Archant

East Cambs District Council planning committee today approved by a majority vote the county council’s application.

Councillor Mike Rouse told the meeting in St Mary’s Church Hall, Ely: “We are very careful to protect the views of Ely Cathedral but that does not mean that there should be no development at all. We need the bypass for the lifeblood of the City”

Councillor John Yates said: “The provision of a southern bypass will improve the environment for residents.”

Councillor Lis Every said: “The need for a solution to the A142 has been known for many years.

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“The bypass will improve journey times on the A10 and open up the riverside and area around the station.”

Councillor Jeremy Friend Smith said: “This bypass will improve the situation in one area but move the problem along to another area. We should be looking to the future and be sure that what we are doing helps and solves the problem.”

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The approval vote will now be considered when the application goes before the county council/

Countryside campaigners say Ely’s proposed southern bypass will inflict “immeasurable damage” to the city and have called for an immediate public inquiry.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) believes the bypass will have a “devastating effect” on the Fenland landscape, especially the iconic setting of Ely Cathedral.

Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said building the bypass over the River Great Ouse would “rob the people” of Ely’s beauty which, he added, would be a “terrible crime”

CPRE sent East Cambridgeshire District Council planners a list of objections to the county council’s proposal.

It says the raised road – a viaduct for part of its length – could not be disguised by selective choice of materials or landscaping while the traffic noise will be heard over a “considerable distance”.

The campaigners have called on the county council to come up with a better scheme, which would have a much lower impact, such as a deeper underpass under the railway line.

CPRE chairman, Michael Monk said: “The proposed scheme would inflict immeasurable damage on the historic setting of Ely Cathedral. I am also deeply disappointed the county council has not given higher priority to other opportunities for dealing with the A142 congestion.

“More should be done to discourage heavy commercial vehicles from using the A142 as a short cut to the Midlands. Such vehicles should be encouraged to the use A14 which, when it is upgraded, should prove an attractive route.”

The county council said that the decision to call a public inquiry was not in the hands of the council.

Councillor Ian Bates, cabinet member for growth and planning, said: “We have done all we can through the planning process to mitigate the impact of the proposed road on the landscape – through the materials, design and plans we have developed.

“We all must remember this project has been brought forward in response to the demands of the vast majority of residents to do something and we are determined to not let them down.”

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