Response by Alan Harper to letter from CCC
Thank you for your email written on behalf of Mr. Eveleigh, my response to your unsigned comments are as follows.
Could you please inform me of exactly what form a 'transport assessment' takes and how will it be undertaken? Also you state that you have no substantive evidence that demonstrates that improvements to local roads will not be necessary despite 'around 1000 (surely that is now around 1600?) new homes' being built but this beggars belief and you may want to re-visit this comment. The volume of traffic on the Burnham Road is growing even now as more homes are built to the east of South Woodham Ferrers making the journey from the Town already tortuous at peak times and how consideration to improving the highways can be apparently ignored is a travesty and complete lack of common sense.
You mention that a transport assessment will accompany a planning application and I would like to know exactly what form this assessment will take. I am hoping it will be detailed and thorough and not like a previous effort that cherry picked a time and date that would show low traffic volumes! After the installation of the folly which acts as a roundabout at the junction of Hullbridge Road and Burnham Road the stock of your Highways Department is not held in very high esteem so to see they will be involved in this process fills one with a distinct of dread of the outcome.
Despite their concerns about the consequences of Bradwell B the Council must acknowledge that there will an increase in the amount of traffic which will consist predominantly of heavy vehicles. CCC must also be aware that there are two main routes off the Dengie Peninsular but it seems that it is the route through South Woodham Ferrers that will be used for all the Bradwell B traffic. This will only add to the volume and also the pollution as traffic grinds to an even more near standstill along the Burnham Road not only at rush hour times but also result in heavier traffic consistently throughout the day. In fact the increase in barely moving traffic will result in an even longer rush hour until the queue disperses.
With regard to air pollution I fail to understand how a meaningful air quality can be undertaken until the actual increase in traffic volume arrives and then it will be too late! . Surely it is basic common sense that a succession of junctions and crossing points will result in stop/start together with slow moving vehicles and consequently air pollution will greatly increase. Prior to lockdown I walked our grandson to and from school in Brentwood along roads of almost stationary vehicles and the fumes from the vehicle exhausts were unpleasantly choking.
I note an easement has been allowed for under the power lines which I take to be an acknowledgement that there could be health issues. However whether 30 metres is enough no one really knows but again common sense says that should there be even the slightest risk to health from the power lines and heavy air pollution then would be extremely irresponsible for Chelmsford City Council to allow the development to go ahead. I consider that the Council's current stance that infrastructure does not require improvement despite what will be a huge detrimental impact on South Woodham Ferrers and at the very least the Council should publicly, and categorically state that there are no health risks whatsoever connected to any aspect of the proposed development. If they are unable to do this then any planning application must be totally rejected. The green issues involved must not be under estimated or ignored.
Returning to the amount of houses to be built, 'around 1000' you say, it seems that this figure may be increased to 1600, i.e. a 60 % increase. I have worked with national house builders, one of which is involved in this development, and it was not an uncommon practice for them to start work before planning permission had been issued. This was done on the basis that they arrogantly thought they could successfully fight any appeal that a toothless and timid Local Authority could muster - and they were right. It is already apparent to the residents that Chelmsford City Council are not at all listening to them and instead are being driven by the developers. Therefore, with regard to my experiences with the antics of developers, I can well imagine the 'around 1000' increase to 'around 2000' and CCC will still stubbornly maintain no improvements to roads would be necessary.
In conclusion I urge Chelmsford City Council to accept and grasp the reality of the implications of this situation by diligently considering the understandable concerns of the residents and not continue being lap dogs to the developers.
This is the reply I received from CCC and I have highlighted a section that to me seems rather illogical. Should the transport assessment show there will be an impact on the highway network would the start of any building then be delayed while land is purchased, permissions obtained, work carried out etc. - I wouldn't think the developers would be jumping with joy with any such delays. I fear the answer to my question is that the results of any survey will not be disclosed and work will begin without any improvements to the infrastructure. Anyway judging by the pig's ear Highways have made of the Hullbridge Road roundabout I would not put any faith in any consultation they are involved in.
Dear Mr Harper
Thank you for your email below, which Nick Eveleigh has asked me to respond to on his behalf.
Strategic Growth Site 10 has been allocated in the Chelmsford Local Plan for the following:
- Around 1000 new homes of mixed size and type to include affordable housing
- Travelling Showpeople site for 5 serviced plots
- 1,000sqm of business floorspace
- 1,900sqm of convenience retail floorspace.
The Local Plan was Examined by the Planning Inspectorate in November and December 2018. The Inspector issued her report on the Examination of the Chelmsford Draft Local Plan on the 25th February 2020 and the plan was subsequently adopted on 27th May 2020. In relation to the highway impacts of the allocation, the Inspector considered this in her report and stated:
“In relation to impacts of the allocation on this network, I am satisfied that these have been appropriately considered and can be suitably addressed through the requirements set out in the Plan. This includes relevant local highway junction improvements to improve capacity. This and other detailed mitigation will be confirmed through the production of a transport assessment at the planning application stage, as required by the policy. This approach is justified.
Furthermore, there is no substantive evidence before me to demonstrate that any further significant highway improvements, including the suggested dualling of the A132 and the provision of a new road to the north of the site, are necessary to mitigate any traffic impacts from the development.”
In accordance with the Inspector’s recommendations a planning application will be accompanied by a transport assessment which will need to show that the development, together with proposed junction improvements, will have an acceptable impact on the highway network. This will be reviewed by highway engineers at Essex County Council, who are consulted on planning applications of this nature.
Subsequent to the consideration of the local plan, proposals have emerged for a new power station at Bradwell. The Bradwell B proposals will need to mitigate their own impacts in traffic and other terms. Chelmsford City Council (CCC) has also recently published its response to the Bradwell B consultation. At this stage CCC raises significant concerns and objections on a number of key aspects of the proposals, including:
•The significant lack of recognition, consideration and information on the impacts of the project on CCC’s area including on its local and strategic highway network, communities, environment and settlements;
• The early years and peak construction transport strategy which focuses on utilising the existing highway through Danbury and South Woodham Ferrers (SWF) and which is considered wholly unsuitable;
• The proposed modal spilt between marine, rail and road transport for freight which is considered too road-dominated;
• The scope and suitability of proposed highways transport improvements which are not evidence based;
• The suitability of proposed construction worker park and ride sites which are not evidence based
•The lack of adequate consideration of the new strategic housing and employment-led development north of SWF Urban Area and the B1012 and consideration of highways mitigations around the town, such as a SWF bypass;
•The suitability of proposed construction freight management facilities which are not evidence based;
• The lack of identified highways interventions on CCC’s local and strategic highways network in particular through and west of SWF;
I note your comments in relation to the potential for an increase in air pollution. Any planning application will need to be accompanied by an air quality assessment, which will be considered by our Environmental Health Officers.
I also note your concerns in relation to the power lines crossing the site. The currently submitted masterplan allows for easements of 30 metres either side of the lines, which is a requirement of the utilities company.
You have also made reference to the local neighbourhood plan. This has been developed by South Woodham Ferrers Town Council and proposes local planning policies for South Woodham Ferrers. Once adopted, it will become part of Chelmsford’s Local Plan.
If you wish to comment on this consultation then you should do so through the Consultation Portal at https://consult.chelmsford.gov.uk/portal
Planning and Development Management