A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme

Enquiry received via post

A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme

13 June 2014
Joanne Turner

Enquiry

I am writing firstly to express my disappointment with the way in which the consultation is being conducted for the latest proposed Cambridge to Huntingdon A14 improvement scheme.
The Highways Agency booklet discusses the aim to create a "Positive legacy", "working to ensure the area continues to be an attractive place where people want to live, work and visit, by protecting the local landscape character". As a resident of the village of Hilton, I consider this to be an absolute
joke. Within 800 metres of our "protected" ancient village green (from which we will have uninterrupted views), will be a six-lane (plus hard-shoulder?) motorway which will cut through hitherto unspoilt countryside, bringing with it untold noise, light and environmental pollution. The new road will be raised by 2-3 metres at best, rising to 9 metres over the bridges (the gradient for which must be forced to begin almost on our historical village green) which will have a devastating visual impact on our village. Our property prices will plummet and indeed several friends are already struggling to sell their properties with the threat of the road looming. Forgive me, therefore, if Ifeel you are failing in your aim to "protect" my "local landscape character".
I believe that the Highways Agency is rushing through the application for the DCO, to the extent where the public are being consulted without access to any of the relevant environmental studies. The lack of precise information on what Iconsider vital issues about the road- for example where the gradient for the road bridges will begin, what mitigating measures might be employed, how
plans to ensure flooding does not become an issue, to name but a few- makes it virtually impossible to provide any kind of detailed feedback to the consultation. Perhaps most notable is the fact that the proposed route is significantly closer to Hilton than the previous tolled route, yet on the relevant page in the booklet (Pg 24) absolutely no mention is made of the fact that the route has moved. I find it staggering, and frankly cannot believe that the process can be legal, that no mention is made of this fact. I understand that from its first conception it has been an incredibly lengthy, drawn out process to get to this stage. However, Icannot believe that this can excuse the rushing through of this consultation on this particular route which is different to that consulted upon last year, particularly when the Agency has chosen not to mention the fact that the route has moved closer to Hilton. In order for the DCO to be submitted in the time frame the Agency is dictating, the additional studies into the environmental issues of this new route cannot possibly be completed in time to be acted upon in any useful fashion -I suspect it is a "done deal" as they say (backed up by the brochure's reference on the proposed timeframe page to the "Acceptance" by the Planning Inspectorate in Autumn 2014; seems fairly confident to me).
Aside from my concerns about the environmental impact of the road itself, both during and after construction, Iam deeply concerned about the effect on traffic levels through our village. I understand that the B1040 is to be straightened which will lead to increased traffic speed and improved access to the village for through traffic increasing rat-running. As the shortest route for people wishing to get between Godmanchester and St lves, significantly increased traffic in Hilton is inevitable. I would urge the Highways Agency to take all of this into account when considering mitigation measures for the area.
If the DCO is submitted and approved (in spite of the appalling manner in which consultation has been implemented), I would implore that the Agency agrees to contractual mitigation measures for Hilton to be included in the design specification for the scheme. It is essential that these measures are an integral part of the tender process rather than an afterthought should there be any money left at the end of the building process. I understand that the current design proposal includes a bund of only one metre above the carriageway level. Substantial natural banking would be essential (not just a few saplings but semi-mature trees of a sufficient height and planting density to limit pollution) along with effective sound barriers and low noise road surfacing along the length of the scheme adjacent to Hilton. We would urge that no construction traffic be allowed through the village at any time of day with site access via the main trunk roads.
I am deeply saddened by the way in which the Highways Agency and those councillors and politicians meant to represent us, are riding rough shod over the residents of Hilton. Because we are relatively few in number compared to the might of Huntingdon and Godmanchester, it seems our views do not count for anything. I bought my house in this beautiful, unspoilt conservation area because this was the lifestyle Ichose. I have accepted that I have to adhere to village conservation rules which dictate I cannot put up a certain style of garden shed or fence in my garden which does not comply with the visual requirements of being located in a conservation area just off our ancient village green. Yet the Highways Agency is allowed to erect a six-lane highway within clear sight and earshot of that "protected" area of natural beauty?

Advice given

Dear Ms Turner
Thank you for your letter addressed to Sir Michael Pitt regarding the proposed Cambridge to Huntingdon A14 improvement scheme. It has been passed to me, as the case manager, to respond.
This proposal is currently at the pre-application stage. As you are aware, the Highways Agency is currently consulting with local communities and prescribed consultees on their proposal in accordance with the duties which the Planning Act 2008 (as amended) places upon them. I am unsure as to whether you have responded directly to the Highways Agency with your comments, as the Highways Agency will be under a duty to take account of relevant responses. The closing date for this consultation period is 15 June 2014. It is at the developer?s discretion whether to accept any representations after that date.
As your letter raises concerns with the consultation being carried out you may also wish to send a copy of your correspondence to the relevant local authority for this area. When the application is submitted to The Planning Inspectorate, local authority consultees will be invited to provide their comments on the adequacy of the developer?s consultation detailing whether the developer complied with their consultation duties in accordance with the Planning Act 2008. Following the submission of the application, a decision will be made within 28 days as to whether the application can be accepted for examination. In deciding whether or not to accept an application the Planning Inspectorate must, amongst other matters, have regard to any adequacy of consultation representation received by it from a local authority consultee.
If the developer is deemed to have adequately carried out their pre-application duties and the application is accepted for examination, there will be the opportunity to register your views with The Planning Inspectorate and participate in the examination by completing a relevant representation form. Details about how and when to register will be publicised by the developer. Please note that you are unable to register as an interested party during the current (pre-application) stage of the process for this proposal.
Further information about how to participate in the application process can be found in our advice notes. I have enclosed two advice notes which may be of particular interest.
If you have any further queries, please don?t hesitate to contact us.