The real reason why Shelford Railway Crossing is one of the worst in the UK
From: Robert Hyde
When I saw the link "Shelford railway level crossing has been named worst in the UK”, I reckoned that finally someone at Network Rail had realised that the waiting times were completely unacceptable. However the revelation that this was about the crossing being the worst in the country for people trying to jump it, is clearly linked.
The 3-4 minute waits have been part of the village experience for at least 60 years, but the recent increase in train schedules has hugely exacerbated the problem. In the past, British Rail’s story was that the gates had to come down so far in advance of trains arriving because of the proximity of the crossing to the main road- i.e. for safety reasons. Presumably, the theory was that there might be a back-up of traffic travelling towards the main road which could overlap the track. In actual fact this is pretty much impossible given the traffic light sequencing, and, if anything, it is the 'gates down' which causes back-ups, even round the corner onto the main road, causing a hazard. Down-time of gates is now estimated to be well over 60% of day-time hours.
The ‘annunciators’ which passing trains trigger and control the level crossing, have been placed at Whittlesford and Cambridge, 3-4 miles away. Apparently to move them would cost over £1 million. However this sum was recently spent in putting up the totally unnecessary Granhams footbridge which serves probably no more than 10 dog walkers a day….if that.
I am not aware that the Parish Council has ever tried to lobby Network Rail to get these annunciators moved.
Unless they are moved, I am sure that frustrated people will continue to try and jump the gates, and one day there will be a terrible accident. If the Parish Council organised a petition of village users to lobby NR, at least they would know that we care. If we do nothing, the status quo will prevail.
Posted Oct 6 2021
Will the Mingle Lane/ Hinton Way development lead to 300 additional homes
From: The Shelfords and Stapleford Green Not Grey Group
Proposals have been published in the draft local plan, for a development of 100 houses on Green Belt land within Shelford/Stapleford. This proposal has been put forward by Greater Cambridge Shared Planning, which is sponsored by South Cambs District Council (SCDC). This matters to all residents of Shelford and Stapleford.
Prior to the publication of the draft plan, an initial call for sites resulted in house building proposals for virtually every single field around the villages. The land chosen in the draft local plan was previously assessed in the 2018 Local Plan, and dismissed as unsuitable for development.
The council has now reversed 2018’s decision, and is proposing construction of 100 homes on the site. This contradicts their own Greater Cambridge Green Belt Assessment Report, which comments that Green Belt:
"prevents communities merging into one" and "prevents further coalescence of settlements" – the land sits directly on the border between Stapleford and Great Shelford parishes
preserves "landscape that retains a strong rural character" – the development will concrete over 10 hectares of farmland and meadow.
The council itself refuses to commit to only 100 houses on the site. They have indicated they would prefer 300 homes, if additional road access can be obtained.
The land sits between the planned Busway and the villages, such that the proposed development will weaken the protection of this area and open it up for further extensive development. The resulting pressures on services and roads from hundreds of new homes will be considerable.
The ‘exceptional circumstance’ given by the council for this new proposal, is their assessment the biodiverse site will benefit from East-West rail and the Cambridge South Station; neither of which provide any direct advantage to the villages.
Given the councils willingness to reverse decisions made only recently, and ignore their own Green Belt assessment report, it is important that the community as a whole provides a strong voice to object to this sort of speculative and profit seeking development.
The formal consultation begins in November, but until then what can I do to register my objection? Contact:
SCDC Shelford/Stapleford Councillor Peter Fane: email@example.com
SCDC Planning Lead Councillor Tumi Hawkins: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shelford Parish Chair Malcolm Watson: email@example.com
Stapleford Parish Chair Howard Kettle: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are opposed to this planning precedent, there is a Facebook group where you can add your voice, as well as get access to important links, documents outlining issues with the plan, and a list councillors to contact.
Posted Oct 4 2021