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Ely Southern Bypass

Cambridgeshire, UK

Lorry travelling at speed along road above walkway on Ely Bypass

Ely Southern Bypass

Cambridgeshire, UK


Cambridgeshire County Council


2012 - 2019

Client Technical Team

Knight Architects, Atkins

D&B Contractor Team

VolkerFitzpatrick, Tony Gee


Construction News Awards 2019 (Shortlisted)

RICS Awards 2019 (Shortlisted)

Structural Steel Design Awards 2019 (Shortlisted)

British Construction Industry Awards 2019 (Shortlisted)

Placemaking in the shadow of a major highway

A new bypass for Ely was proposed as long ago as 2003 to address serious traffic congestion problems in the city. However, its setting within the Fen Landscape and protected views towards the nearby Ely Cathedral generated opposition.

In 2012, a conventional highway design was submitted for Public Consultation but following objections led by English Heritage the scheme was rejected. Knight Architects was engaged to begin a complete review of all structures on the route.

Working closely with the Local Authority client, a clear set of aims and objectives were developed. Workshop events with local stakeholders produced a more positive design approach. This included a low-lying structure in harmony with the flat landscape. The opportunity was identified to add value to the scheme with a new pedestrian crossing of the river and a look-out platform offering picturesque views of Ely Cathedral. In addition to the 310m-long river crossing, the route included a 105m-long two span railway crossing.

The project was granted planning approval in 2014, achieving widespread support without the need for a public inquiry.

Close view of the timber walkway and parapet looking out across the river and fields in distance
Car travelling and people walking on the Ely Bypass walkway and road
Down river view looking at Ely bypass with Ely Cathedral in the distant behind it

“We’re proud and delighted by our beautiful new bridge. The architectural design has raised a piece of vital road infrastructure into a new symbol of Ely, providing new walks across the river and a spectacular view of our magnificent Cathedral”

– Anna Bailey - Deputy Leader of Council