Update for Bedford residents living in areas affected by East West Rail preferred route
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Bedford residents living in areas affected by East West Rail’s preferred route should continue with all the processes available to them, a councillor was told.
The message followed a presentation outlining the council’s research on alternative routes for the railway to Cambridge.
During Bedford Borough Council’s East West Rail Briefing on Tuesday Councillor Zara Layne (Labour, Harpur) asked the mayor what his advice for residents in areas currently marked as impacted by East West Rail Company’s (EWR) preferred route was.
“Should residents continue to access the available options around need to sell, or do you believe that something that’s been presented tonight is actually viable enough to change the opinion of EWR and the government,” the councillor asked.
“Because we’re talking about demolitions and, given that residents are currently going through a process where they are trying to sell homes, potentially under market value, is your advice that they carry on with this?”
“Or do you believe that you have presented something tonight that is going to make a difference,” she asked.
Bedford mayor, Tom Wootton, referred this “difficult” question to Jon Shortland, the council’s chief officer for planning, infrastructure and economic growth.
Mr Shortland said: “The issue here, councillor, is the time that it will take to change people’s minds.
“We have got a new evidence here which we will be sharing with EWR, if they take that on board they might not go to public consultation in June.
“They might need to do some more work – if they change their mind they’ll definitely need to do some more work.
“So if we’re talking about advice for people, I think the advice has to be to carry on with the current process.
“Because we can’t say how long the change of mind would take,” he said.
East West Rail Briefing Tuesday, 6th February 2024 – via video replay
> East West Rail is a strategic aim to establish a new main line railway between East Anglia and South Wales. The immediate plan is to build a line linking Oxford and Cambridge via Bicester, Milton Keynes and Bedford, largely using the trackbed of the former Varsity Line.