More traffic chaos for White Hart Lane / Beaulieu Park / north Springfield

January 19, 2010 11:36 PM

TrafficTraffic on White Hart Lane in Springfield / north east Chelmsford is certain to get worse before it gets better, if housing plans for the area get the go-ahead. The news emerged at a public meeting last night (18 January), following persistent questioning from local residents and Lib Dem campaigner Stephen Robinson.

Developer Countryside Zest is asking the council for permission to build 4,000 houses on green fields in the area (more than even the council wants in their strategic plan). The application is known as 'Greater Beaulieu Park'.

At a public meeting on Monday to present their plans, they admitted that there was unlikely to be any spending on road improvements or new schools until at least the first 1,000 houses have been built. (It was also confirmed that the proposed North East Chelmsford by-pass is already deferred to at least 2019 and probably much later.)

Said Stephen Robinson, "Better local services are crucial to delivering strong local communities not just housing estates. Moreover, we need good public transport, not thousands more cars choking our town with traffic and pollution.

"If you want to back my campaign to Don't Choke Chelmsford, you can read more at www.dontchoke.org.uk and sign the petition there. Please ask your friends to back the campaign too."

If you want to make comments about the planning application, you have until early February. Go to the council website here: http://is.gd/5YojA If that link fails, go to the home page http://web1.chelmsfordbc.gov.uk/publicaccess/default.aspx and search for application number 09/01314/EIA

***Overlapping planning issues***

There are two planning issues running in parallel at the moment that both affect the green fields north of Springfield:

1) The Council's strategy for future development

2) A planning application from Countryside Properties

1) The Council's strategy

Chelmsford's Conservative-run Council has set out its overall strategy to put 3,200 houses on green fields north of Springfield up to 2021. Consultation finished on 21 December and there will be an inquiry, probably in the Spring, to examine the strategy. (This strategy is opposed by the Liberal Democrats, as we think the houses should go on the gravel pits north of Boreham.)

If this strategy is NOT approved then the following planning application would be unlikely to proceed.

2) A planning application from Countryside Properties

The developer for north east Chelmsford has tried to hurry the process along by submitting an actual planning application. These points emerged at the meeting:

  • They are requesting up to 4,000 houses, rather than the 3,200 proposed by the council. Stephen Robinson asked why and the answer was that the council has a vision for the future beyond 2021, which includes yet more houses in this area.
  • With Boswells full, Springfield desperately needs more secondary school places. A new secondary school (and two primary schools) are in the strategy. So Stephen asked when could we expect the secondary school i.e. how many houses will be built before the developer has enough money to pay their share of the school costs?

There was no real answer: they said it was not down to them.

  • Many people asked whether the railway station would go ahead after decades of promises. We were told that it is only since 2007 that the Government and Network Rail have approved the business case; that it is set to go ahead, and should be ready in 2015 (if the strategy is approved this year). There was a difference of opinion about the cost, which makes you wonder if the money will be there. The developer has a figure much less than the council.

There were many questions about the road network:-

a) It was confirmed that the North East Chelmsford by-pass is nothing to do with the developer. It is down to Essex County Council and the Government to agree - and they have both said it will be 2019 at the earliest.

b) The developers will build a road around the development, to serve the new houses and take some traffic away from White Hart Lane.

c) The developers have designed alterations to the Boreham interchange to improve traffic flows for which they would pay. However, they said Essex County Council wants something more comprehensive. The developer will only make a contribution to that.

NEW SERVICES ONLY AFTER 1,000 HOUSES

After further questioning, the developers admitted that all these road improvements (and probably any progress on other services like the schools) would only come at the end of Phase 1 of house-building.

This is likely to mean not before 1,000 houses (east of Essex Regiment Way).

So the traffic on White Hart Lane and Boreham interchange is set to get worse before they take any action. While they take action, the chances are that it will mean further traffic problems.

The Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign against the strategy at the upcoming inquiry and hope we can count on your continued support.

REMEMBER

Greater Beaulieu Park - reasons against

  • Schools, new station, roads, community halls and other facilities may not end up being built, only the houses
  • Developer could run out of money for community facilities and affordable housing, because they have to contribute to the flood alleviation scheme.
  • New houses are far too far away from the new station, and therefore new residents will inevitably use cars more than under the Lib Dem proposal
  • The impact on New Hall and other constraints are now showing this is trying to put a quart into a pint pot. The fine principles about public open space etc. are now being ignored.
  • This proposal risks even further urban sprawl to meet further dwelling numbers. There will be no natural boundary. When Beaulieu Park was proposed, the Inspector said that its edge would be the edge of urban Chelmsford.