Poll: West Suffolk’s transport links to Cambridge could be boosted under £500million economic plan

The A1307

The A1307

Major improvements to transport links between west Suffolk and Cambridge could be made as part of a £500million plan to boost the local economy.

The extra services - both rail and bus - are identified in a major new bid for Government funding. A14 improvement schemes are also included, along with support for a new technology centre at West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds.

The projects form part of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough (GCGP) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) economic plan - which it believes can deliver 70,000 new jobs and £2.8billion to the region’s economy.

West Suffolk is also supported by the New Anglia LEP, and the two organisations will work together for projects such as the £15m Bury St Edmunds Eastern Relief Road and upgrading the A1307 around Haverhill.

However, GCGP is taking the lead on projects bolstering transport between west Suffolk and Cambridge, as part of its proposed £338m transport investment over the next six years.

Adrian Cannard, strategy and planning director at the GCGP LEP, said: “We have been bold in our ask, but are confident that our plans are robust and will deliver results for our local area.”

Investment in passing bays or double-tracking between Newmarket and Cambridge would allow services between Cambridge, Newmarket and Ipswich to run half-hourly, while GCGP also hopes to reinstate the Newmarket west curve to allow greater flexibility.

On the roads, GCGP wants to improve the A14 / A142 junction at Newmarket and boost capacity along the A14 east of Cambridge. It will also explore bus and rail options between Cambridge and Haverhill.

There is support for a new technology centre at West Suffolk College, as well as creating a new innovation centre at Haverhill Research Park, which will act as a hub to help small businesses grow.

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GCGP is also looking to create Local Skills Teams to cover the whole of its LEP area. They will work with businesses and training providers to encourage growth.

Over the coming months GCGP will negotiate with the Government over its share of the £2bn national pot, which will be split between 39 LEPs.

Grahame Nix, chief executive of GCGP, said: “It is an exciting time for our LEP, with a range of new funding opportunities that will enable us to have a significant positive impact on our local economy.

“We have two of the fastest growing cities in the UK in our area, and now is the time to harness that growth potential and turn it into new jobs, new skills, new homes and new infrastructure that will benefit the whole of our LEP area.

“We look forward to negotiating our growth deal with Government and are hopeful of a resolution before the summer recess.”

Government is expected to agree growth deals with LEPs by mid-2014, with the funding available from April 2015.