Legal challenge over work at Black Cat roundabout continues

High Court oral hearing to decide whether A428 dualling can go ahead
An artistic impression of the new look A1 Black Cat roundaboutAn artistic impression of the new look A1 Black Cat roundabout
An artistic impression of the new look A1 Black Cat roundabout

A High Court oral hearing is due to be held to establish whether work can begin on a multi-million pound project to dual the A428 from the Black Cat roundabout in Bedfordshire to Caxton Gibbet in Cambridgeshire.

Transport Action Network submitted an application to the High Court seeking permission for a judicial review of the Secretary of State for Transport’s decision to grant the A428 development consent order (DCO).

The organisation is challenging the Secretary of State’s decision over biodiversity, the need for the scheme and climate change.

A judge at the High Court has reviewed the application now and refused to allow a judicial review on all three grounds.

Improvements to the route linking the M1 south of Milton Keynes to the M11 in Cambridgeshire were due to have begun towards the end of last year, only to be put on hold after the legal challenge was lodged in October.

A National Highways spokesman said: “While the judge’s decision is positive news, the legal process isn’t complete yet.

“Transport Action Network has requested that its application requesting permission for a judicial review be heard at a High Court oral hearing.

“The High Court doesn’t publish timescales and we’re waiting to be given a date when that oral hearing will take place.

“As this is an ongoing legal case, we’re unable to provide any further information at this stage. But we’re continuing to assess the impact and will provide further updates as soon as possible.”

Planning permission in the form of the DCO was granted by the Secretary of State last August. Preparations to build the new dual carriageway, predicted to cost between £810m and £950m, are continuing.

“Following our recent public information events we know the improvements are very much wanted by local people, commuters and businesses,” added the spokesman.

“We’re doing our surveys of land, water and ecology, while finalising the design of junctions and bridges to minimise impact when we start building the road.

“Our plans will help transform the region, improving journeys between Milton Keynes, Bedford, St Neots and Cambridge by bringing communities together and supporting long-term regional growth.”

Dualling the route would see a new stretch of road south of St Neots, which would cross the current A428 east of the town. It would continue eastwards to Caxton Gibbet from where the A428 is already dualled.

Transport Action Network director Chris Todd told the BBC previously: “It’s ten miles, so it’s a significant piece of road.

“If you look at National Highways’ figures, there’ll be a big increase in traffic over the whole local road network,” he explained.

“National Highways isn’t upgrading that network, as it couldn’t afford to. What you’ll find is journeys may be smoother on the A428 with fewer delays.

“But there’ll be increased congestion on the surrounding road network. So you’re not solving the problem, just shifting it into several different areas.”

The scheme aims to improve traffic flows around the Black Cat roundabout and reduce journey times from Milton Keynes and Bedford to Cambridge.