Extra traffic chaos on Chelmsford's White Hart Lane, as Essex CC allows extra houses before new road opens

April 28, 2022 10:35 AM

Ian Fuller reports on traffic in White Hart LaneEssex County Council is letting Countryside Properties build 1400 homes in north-east Chelmsford BEFORE the new distributor road is open, contrary to the original agreement for 1000 homes. The new road is now unlikely to be open until at least Spring 2023, 18 months later than planned. Essex CC failed to get the contracts in place in time to demolish the old bridge that takes Generals Lane over the railway and A12.

Chelmsford Liberal Democrats opposed this application, as residents of Springfield in the White Hart Lane area suffer enough already from the traffic volumes. Commented Springfield Lib Dem Councillor Ian Fuller, "We absolutely need these houses (so that families and our young people have somewhere to live) but it's vital that the infrastructure comes with the development."

In this video, Cllr Fuller explains the problem.

The details of the planning application are Item 5 on this County Council Agenda from Friday 22nd April 2022.

Here's what Cllr. Fuller told the meeting:

"It is not fair or accurate to use 2019 traffic survey figures and extrapolate them to 2022. Back in 2019 there were obviously fewer homes, around 560 (half of what we have today), fewer estate roads and Beaulieu Park school had fewer pupils. The traffic movements today are more complex following the demolition of the Generals Lane bridge.

"Had this been carried out in 2020, or even earlier, then the traffic from the quarries and New Hall school would be competing with less traffic from the new homes. But now another year's worth of homes have been occupied and so there are far more traffic movements. This could have been avoided had the necessary legal permissions been obtained in 2020. I do not think it is right to use the 2019 figures when we have a very different situation in 2022. I would ask that you postpone your decision until new data has been obtained.

"I cannot see why an up-to-date traffic assessment has not been completed. The working from home guidance ended in June 2021. There have been plenty of opportunities to do some traffic assessments since then. I urge you once again to postpone your decision and ask for better evidence.

"The report from Mayer Brown describes the request to allow an extra 400 houses as a pragmatic one. An interesting word to use. The reasons given are that there is less traffic than was expected and any congestion that is taking place now will only last for a year until the new bridge is built. We have an estimate of completion by Spring 2023. How realistic is that? I hope I have shown you that you should question this application. The evidence is weak, out of date, possibly flawed and the everyday experiences of local residents tells you that mitigation is required. I ask you to consider very carefully the merits of this application."

Despite Cllr. Fuller's concerns, Essex County Council passed the application.