Campaign group’s consultants recommend refusal of South Woodham housing plan

Planning consultants say proposals for more than 1,000 homes in South Woodham Ferrers should be refused due to the impact the development will have on the road network.

Campaign group South Woodham Ferrers Infrastructure group say the report they commissioned from specialist transport planning consultants SCP hardens their argument that the plans to make the B1012 Burnham Road into an urban street will add to the current queues and substantially increase the town’s traffic pollution and reduce air quality.

Developer Countryside’s submission for outline planning for Oaklands Meadows – a development of up to 1,020 new homes, north of Burnham Road – also comes with an application for detailed planning permission for access to and from the development.

Woodham Infrastructure Group suggests that the current proposals for the B1012 Burnham Road to be the primary route from the Dengie to all feeder and trunk routes into an urban street with six pedestrian crossings will likely result in Ferrers Road becoming a ‘rat run’ through the centre of South Woodham Ferrers as drivers from North Fambridge and beyond try to avoid this section.

SCP has now said they believe that the planning application as submitted should be refused on highway and transport grounds because the transport assessment has not modelled the junctions correctly or considered the effect of one junction on another.

In particular, they say the models are not calibrated against observed traffic queues and in most cases the junction models understate the queue and delay at each junction.

Additionally, they say the junction models do not correctly model HGV traffic and no account is taken of committed developments which will add traffic to the network.

They say this means future traffic levels has been modelled without the known additional traffic from these sites.

They also say that too much emphasis has been made of the location of the site and access to the local railway station and facilities, suggesting people will choose to walk rather than drive.

They argue that the measurements quoted are from the site access point rather than the furthest dwelling or at the very least a mid-point location meaning that overly optimistic assumptions are being made with regard to how many people will walk rather than drive.

In summary the report adds: “As currently submitted SCP believe there are sufficient grounds to refuse the application on highways safety grounds and due to the likely severe impact the extra traffic will have on the transport network in terms of capacity and congestion.

“Having regard to the National Planning Policy Framework the inadequate nature of the submitted proposals and the likely severe residual impact which will result even with the mitigation measures outlined, are not deemed to be sufficient to prevent a severe residual adverse cumulative impact.

“Therefore, we request that this application is refused or, significant additional Transport Assessment work is undertaken which address the above points and bring forward a long term mitigation plan that properly addresses the impact of the traffic expected to be generated.”

A spokesman for Woodham Infrastruture Group said: “We are not opposing the houses which are much needed. The problem is that the plan is to build the houses without making the necessary improvements to infrastructure. This will severely disadvantage the current South Woodham Ferrers residents and businesses and those who will have homes in the new development and those who live and work in The Dengie and rely on road transport.”

An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “Any planning application will be decided by Chelmsford City Council.

“Work is currently being carried out as part of the Chelmsford Local Plan which outlines the highways infrastructure which developers need to provide to support new housing in South Woodham Ferrers. This includes new access points, roundabouts, bus services, additional pedestrian and cycle connections and improvements to the local road network.

“It is important that infrastructure to support continued growth across key areas in Essex is considered by all Local Plans. Plans for this area have previously undergone an Examination in Public (EIP) and were approved by the inspector in terms of highways and transport.”

A spokesperson for Chelmsford City Council said, “This planning application is pending consideration and consultation is still ongoing. It would not be appropriate for us to make any comment until the consultation has finished and a decision is made.”

The consultation to the plans which will be determined by Chelmsford City Council ends on January 7.

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter