7th Aug, 2020

'£6.7million highways plan does not address traffic issues', say Whitford Road campaigners

CAMPAIGNERS fighting a proposal for 505 properties on Whitford Road have dismissed the developers’ £6.7million highways plan saying it fails to address the current or potential traffic issues.

The Catesby Estates and Miller Homes application goes before Bromsgrove District Council’s planning committee at 6pm on Thursday, October 31, and officers have recommended it for approval.

The main site proposes 490 properties, a shop, new access roads, public open space and landscaping and the second site would see the Greyhound Inn pub bulldozed to make way for 15 homes and a new roundabout.

Consultants Mott Macdonald carried out an independent review on the council’s behalf to examine current and potential traffic issues and the developers claim their multi-million highways investment and improvements are sufficient and will benefit existing and new residents.

They include a new roundabout at the Fox Lane and Rock Hill junction and new traffic signals at the Kidderminster Road and Whitford Road junction to reduce queuing during peak times.

A significant contribution will go towards town centre works, including St John’s Street, Market Street, the Hanover Street junction and the A38 improvement schemes. Cash has also been pledged for public transport, pedestrian and cycle paths.

But Whitford Vale Voice which has tirelessly fought the development maintains a Western Relief Road is needed to negate the extra traffic.

Transport spokesperson John Gerner said a series of detailed and carefully considered technical notes outlining WVV’s concerns about the impact on highway safety and congestion at several Bromsgrove locations.

He added many of the issues raised were left unanswered and, as the impact of the development on already congested roads had not been fully assessed, the group would be calling for the application to be refused.

“As the Planning Inspector for the applicants’ previously refused application concluded this is something that is not supported by National Planning Policy.

“We are firmly of the opinion that Bromsgrove needs a Western Distributor Road.

“Based on Worcestershire Highways cost estimates and announcements for infrastructure spending by Sajid Javid for other areas of the country, the 30 years case for housing growth in Bromsgrove shows a distributor road, improvements to the A38 and other road schemes are all affordable.”

He said the council was currently undertaking a Strategic Transport Assessment (STA) as part of its green belt review which was looking at where sustainable development could be built.

“Clearly building on the Whitford Road site would stymy delivery of the southern section of a distributor road.

“An outcome that would be prejudicial to the outcome of the STA and green belt review.”

Coun Luke Mallett, who has also campaigned for the Western Relief Road, accused the developers of ‘spouting hot air’ and added: “How can adding hundreds of cars onto the roads, whilst majority of their suggested road improvements are on the opposite side of our town, make anything better?

“If developers like Catesby really cared about traffic congestion and air pollution, they should stop posturing and put their hands in their pocket to deliver this.”

He added he would also be calling on the council’s planning committee to reject the whole proposal.

“It risks more gridlock to our town and demonstrates that these developers haven’t got a clue about Bromsgrove and our traffic problems.”

Catesby Estates chief executive Paul Brocklehurst said traffic issues at certain times of day in Bromsgrove were well-documented and they had adapted the proposals to help address them.

“With councils’ budgets constrained funds are limited to address existing highways issues which projected traffic growth, even without new development, will only make worse. This is where new development can help.”

He claimed the company had worked intensively with the council’s independent advisors to resolve all questions and concerns which he hoped would reassure local residents.

He said there were 2,000 people in Bromsgrove on accommodation waiting lists and added 202 properties (40 per cent) would be affordable, including 81 shared ownership to help people to get on the housing ladder.

The application be heard by the planning committee at the Bromsgrove Council House at Parkside at 6pm on Thursday.

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