Bedford residents' fury as letter from East West Rail reveals houses for possible demolition

Though some neighbours affected by the proposals weren't even notified

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 10:02 am

Angry residents were left in shock after receiving a letter saying their house may be demolished as part of the East West Rail route consultation.

East West Railway Company said the letters represented a “reasonable worst-case scenario” for impacts on properties, and added that it would continue to work with local communities to mitigate impacts where possible.

Neighbours in the Poets area of Bedford met Tuesday night (March 30) to discuss the proposals - with some shocked they had not even received a letter.

This map was part of a letter sent to some houses marked on the map for
possible compulsory purchase/demolition
This map was part of a letter sent to some houses marked on the map for possible compulsory purchase/demolition

In the leaflet sent by East West Railway Company, some houses in Chesterton Mews, Milne Row, Sidney Road, Milton Road and Spenser Road would be demolished "based on reasonable worst-case railway corridor width".

Other properties in Chesterton Mews and Milne Row "may" be demolished - and a partial loss in gardens may be required in Sidney Road, Milton Road, Spenser Road and Granet Close.

And although Ian Nicholls' house in Sidney Street would not be demolished or be made subject to compulsory purchase, he would still be affected.

He said: "You walk out of my front door and there would be a rail road.

"The houses that could be possibly demolished or demolished received a letter - but those that live nearby did not get sent a letter by East West Rail."

He went on to say: "People are very angry and shocked that their houses are going to be compulsory purchased."

And he feared what would impact it would have on the community as well as the value of properties.

A spokesman for the East West Railway Company said: "We are sending a summary of the consultation document to all 270,000 addresses in the consultation zone, which means everyone will have the information they need to respond.

"The letters have been sent Royal Mail tracked 24 and the team is monitoring delivery closely. A small number of letters are still in transit and wherever possible we are contacting these individuals by email. We are also contacting business owners by email where possible in case the office is closed.

"Interactive maps with different layers of detail have been on the EWR Co website, alongside static maps which are available online and in the print versions of all documents – also available online. The interactive maps cover each section of the route and enable users to zoom in and add different map layers to explore the concepts and proposals.

"People whose land might be directly impacted by the railway are being contacted with detailed plans of the plots relevant to them. All sets of maps are appropriate to this stage of consultation.

"We acted to ensure that the vast majority of land and property owners who might be affected heard from us before the consultation went live. We believe that is the respectful thing to do. We aimed to strike the right balance between providing advance information for those affected, and the publication of the consultation so that residents could see the full proposals in the round.

"It is also worth noting that we acted quickly as soon as we had Government approval to proceed, as we know that local communities have been keen to see this consultation information as soon as possible.

"We understand that our proposals will affect people’s homes, businesses and farms. In developing our plans, we aim to minimise the negative impact on people’s land and property and mitigate any impacts we cannot avoid. At this stage, we are presenting a “reasonable worst-case scenario” for impacts on properties but we will continue to work with local communities, and seek to mitigate impacts where we can."

Key areas of focus for the consultation include:

> How to ensure that communities around Bletchley and the Marston Vale Line would get the most from significant investment in their railway line

> Options for new stations at Bedford and Bedford St Johns and their supporting infrastructure

> Five route alignment options for the section of East West Rail between Bedford and Cambridge, including an emerging preference for a station at Cambourne North

> Plans for improving customer experience through better station design and more timely travel information