Central Bedfordshire Council denies wanting Sandy railway station to close

Sandy railway station. Picture: Danny Loo

Sandy railway station. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Central Bedfordshire Council says it wants to keep Sandy railway station open, despite a recent report suggesting it could be replaced with a stop three miles out of town.

Sandy railway station. Picture: Danny Loo

Sandy railway station. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

The council commissioned a study – prepared by GL Hearn, Capita and LDA Design – which looked at scenarios where the proposed Cambridge-to-Oxford East West Rail Link runs to the north of Sandy, with a new stop “replacing the existing station” near Tempsford.

But in a letter to the Comet today, Central Beds’ executive member for regeneration Councillor Nigel Young firmly denied that the council wants the station to close.

He said the council had commissioned the report to see if an East West Rail line north of Sandy would help increase land values enough to justify helping to pay for it.

He said: “Our draft Local Plan identifies the council’s preferred options for the East West Rail line, with stations at both Wixams and north of Sandy at Tempsford as part of the growth location options we are considering.

“At no time has the council suggested that the existing station at Sandy would close. In fact, we would robustly support the retention of the existing station in addition to a new station at Tempsford.”

He added: “This is a theoretical study and is just one piece of evidence among many other studies that have informed our draft Local Plan, which is currently out to public consultation.

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“It was not the purpose or the role of the study to determine if the existing station at Sandy should remain open or close.

“Any decision about train stations, either existing or new, rests with Network Rail and is therefore beyond the council’s control.”

The Development Gain and Economic Benefit from East West Rail report examines scenarios of 7,000, 15,000 or 20,000 new homes to the north of Sandy – where Central Beds’ Local Plan calls for a standalone settlement in the Tempsford area.

The introduction of the report describes the north-of-Sandy route and a new station as “Central Bedfordshire Council’s preferred option” for East West Rail, and states that its findings are based on an “interchange station (replacing the existing station) to the north of Sandy”.

It estimates that house prices there would rise by up to 20 per cent if an East West Rail station were built there.

It adds: “Economic benefits associated with options for the new settlement and station north of Sandy range from £154m to £224m.

“Overall a new settlement north of Sandy appears to present an opportunity for economic benefits and growth whilst enabling value uplift capture.”

Those criticising the report have included independent Potton councillor Adam Zerny, who said it was intended to help justify a housing surge.

You can read the study online here.

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