A new report on the proposed East/West rail link could see Sandy lose its historic train station.
The report, commissioned by Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) is based on a theoretical scenario where the proposed East West Rail Link (EWR)
central section runs through Central Bedfordshire, with new stations to the north of Sandy, near Tempsford and to the north or south of Wixams.
Network Rail is already consulting on plans for the rail system from Cambridge to Oxford, with plans to use the Bedford/Bletchely line through the county.
The CBC report says the central section route between Cambridge/Bedford has yet to be finalised but one of the options is to bring the route via a new station at Wixams across the area to the north of Sandy in Central Bedfordshire.
The report states: “This is Central Bedfordshire Council’s preferred option which opens up the potential for significant economic growth and could also deliver some of the area’s housing requirements. It would also connect potential growth locations in Central Bedfordshire to key larger employment centres within the region and significantly improve public transport journey times.
“These are estimated as being some 21 minutes between Sandy and Cambridge; 8 minutes to Bedford/Bedford Parkway/Wixams station; 25 minutes to Bletchley (Milton Keynes); 45 minutes to Bicester and 60 minutes to Oxford.”
One scenario could see house prices around a new Sandy interchange station three miles from the existing station, rise by 20%.
“The analysis suggests the potential for stronger relative growth in Sandy compared to other locations.
“Given the location of Sandy on the A1(M), potential EWR and Expressway, and taking into account the level of residential growth considered, there is anticipated to be demand for employment land proportionate to the scale of residential development across commercial, industrial and distribution sectors. This is anticipated to range from 35-100ha, dependent on the residential growth scenario considered. Significant economic benefits are associated with the delivery of new infrastructure and housing under growth scenarios at Sandy,” it states.
The report says there is strong evidence that growth at Sandy and Wixams station locations would bring the added benefit of development gain from increased house prices.
And it states the current draft Local Plan reflects the potential opportunities the E/W rail would bring in terms of economic growth and housing delivery and identifies these locations albeit they are dependant on the provision of this key infrastructure.
Independent local councillor Adam Zerny said: “Shutting Sandy station is a ludicrous idea. CBC only paid for this report to justify huge amounts of housebuilding in Sandy and Tempsford. It beggars belief they’d consider building tens of thousands of new houses without expanding rail links”.
Cllr Zerny also criticised CBC’s failure to demonstrate it had worked with other relevant authorities.
He said “The report admits there are major projects taking place to consider moving the A1 and A428 and make changes to Black Cat but yet Central Beds offers no evidence it is working on a joint plan with all the agencies involved”.