OPINION: Soham Station fiasco about to come to a conclusion, or is it?
- Credit: DONNA MARTIN
They paved paradise, put up a parking lot!
The lyrics of the Joni Mitchell song are quite apt for the residents of Mill Corner, Soham.
They have watched in dismay as what was a beautiful and vibrant wildlife landscape to the west of Soham town centre disappear under a sea of tarmac.
A mature woodland filled with birdsong and the rustle of native mammals has been replaced by tarmac.
Our public rights of way along the river have been closed, but that this is okay because Soham is getting its station!
I have never objected to the re-opening of Soham station.
In fact, I should be credited, along with the rest of the original Soham Town Forum team for pushing the idea forward.
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My objections have been against the unsuitable location of the car park, on unstable land, and the destruction of our woodland in favour of a car park that could have been situated more sensibly elsewhere on the site.
I was delighted when the mayor Dr Nik Johnson and CAPCA head of transport Rowland Potter visited me after the mayoral election to ‘listen’ to my grievances.
I watched as the mayor hung his head in shame when I spoke of the way residents had been mistreated.
What we had put up with in terms of loss of amenity, subjection to machinery noise and vibration, and anti-social working hours.
How our concerns about flooding and vibration and damage to our properties had been ignored by all parties, and complaints had been dismissed out of hand.
The bottom line is and was; that it is simply more convenient for everyone concerned if we don’t exist, but we do, and as residents living adjacent to a major development site we have rights, all of which so far have been blatantly ignored.
CAPCA, East Cambridgeshire District Council and Network Rail did not just make mistakes in bringing this project to fruition in the way they have done it.
All parties failed to consult in accordance with planning law, rather they have entirely ignored planning law.
They have failed to observe environmental and conservation policies amongst others, failed to undertake important and necessary surveys.
Network Rail have broken promises about the level of mitigation for residents and are not going to be delivering the 81 trees promised to Soham Town Council.
Yes, we do need and we are going to have a station; it is simply the way that the project has been imposed upon us, without regard to residents’ rights that has failed us.
Residents living at the bottom of Station Road are experiencing just a small amount of the noise and nuisance we have experienced for that past 15 months and are raising merry hell about the un-notified road closures and imminent withdrawal of their parking rights.
To top it all, a consultation about a complex one-way system around the town in order to disperse ‘all of the station traffic’ is under way at ECDC.
As one person said to me, ‘If we are going to make the road system so complicated, who will bother going to the station.’
Who? being the correct question. The fiasco is likely to continue and if implemented, the one-way system will negatively impact on pretty much everyone living to the west of Soham Town Centre.
Having been invited to attend the opening, I will be listening with interest as Dr Nik Johnson makes his speech; I wonder how claims that this was a ‘green’ project can be equated to that god awful tank of a bridge and the sea of tarmac, clanking metal fences and 8m high motorway lights?
I wonder how the loss of 400 trees and a singularly rare and important wildlife habitat can be assimilated into that ‘green’ vision?
If you have any objections or concerns, please don’t hesitate to raise them with your local councillors, ECDC, or even MP.
That way you can get a glimpse of the offhand manner in which we have been consistently treated.