Chelmsford bus link would ‘break fewer eggs’ says councillor

A controversial bus link in Chelmsford would break “fewer eggs” than alternative plans that would see all traffic from an 800-home development carried by a single road, according to a councillor.

However, Chelmsford City Council looks to agree to a masterplan for Warren Farm that scraps the bus link to Avon Road at the next cabinet meeting on November 17, after the council’s policy board which met last week agreed to adopt that option.

A bus link between Avon Road, which has come under fire from residents, seems unlikely to be adopted, after developer Crest indicated it would scrap it even though it is the recommendation offered by Essex County Council Highways officers.

The alternative, to move all traffic down Roxwell Road, which is vehemently opposed by Writtle Parish Council, has also been criticised by the Tory group led by Cllr Roy Whitehead.

The bus gate, which is no longer being proposed by the developer, would have cut through the existing park, woodland and children’s play area, and included a new two-way road bridge over Chignal Brook, campaigners argued.

Residents who have been using the masterplan consultation, which will set the broad outline of the development, say they are delighted that the bus gate will no longer be part of the plans.

Instead in its place will be two footpath/cycleway connections between the site and the Chignal Estate to the north and south of the allotments.

A proposed bus route to the site would run along Roxwell Road and Chignal Road.

But the administration’s shift on its masterplan for the estate has been called “shabby”.

Tory policy board member, Cllr Barry Knight, said moving all the traffic along Roxwell Road would have a greater impact on more people in Writtle, than having a bus link to Avon Road impacting fewer people.

He said: “The reason it is not fair is that if you want to make an omelette you have to break some eggs.

“But it is materially obvious that fewer eggs are broken in Chignal than there would be in Writtle.”

He added: “It’s a little bit shabby.”

Essex County Council has said that the provision of a bus link between the site and Avon Road – for use by buses, pedestrians, cyclists and council maintenance vehicles – is still considered to be necessary to mitigate the impact of the development, because it would enable provision of a bus route which would be a genuine alternative to travel for residents rather than using the private car.

A Chelmsford Council report says: “In the alternative option to a bus link proposed by Crest, in order to achieve similar bus priority measures and to provide permeability into the Chignal Estate, the proposed bus route enters and exits the site from the A1060 Roxwell Road.

“Although the bus routes are indicative at this point, it is likely this would be a longer route to the city centre than the one facilitated by the bus link.

“The alternative option would also require the buses to be added to the traffic along Roxwell Road. These disbenefits of the alternative proposal highlight the benefits of the bus link – reduced travel times to the city centre, less traffic on Roxwell Road and greater options for future strategic bus routing.”

Lib Dem Rose Moore said the bus link would impact lives.

She said: “There are two major problems here, which emerged only once the engineering solution was revealed.

“It does require a massive structure, a flyover essentially, that would be a major blight on the surrounding area, involving something that could be landscaped but which would still very much be on the scale that could not be concealed.

“This would have several impacts.

“It would have a disproportionate and negative impact on lives of the people who live in the adjourning houses, less than a metre from the proposed road, users of the children’s play area and allotments with severance of that space would have an enormous impact on the sense of home for those people.

“And for those people who want to enjoy time in the woods walking their dogs.

“It would also do significant damage to the local ecology with a major swathe cut through the woods as well as possible encroachment into the green area in Avon Road itself.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter