Chelmsford bus route would wreck ‘beautiful estate’ say residents

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A bus link proposed as a part of huge plans for 800 homes in the west of Chelmsford will destroy a “well functioning beautiful estate”, residents have argued.

Crest Nicholson, which is planning the Warren Farm development, has come under fire for the new road for buses, taxis and motorcycles planned between the new estate and the entrance to Avon Road Park.

This will cut through the existing park, woodland and children’s play area, and include a new two-way road bridge over Chignal Brook.

The developer is also proposing a four-way traffic light controlled junction at this location.

The roads around the Trent Road triangle will also be widened, which would include a two-way link for cars on the south side, and a two-way bus only route on the north side of the triangle, building over existing trees and green space.

Crest says the bus link, which will see eight buses an hour, is vital for its plans to allow efficient transport in and out of the estate.

The area in which the homes are planned was approved for development when the local plan was passed in May.

However, residents are now looking to use the masterplan consultation, which is to agree the broad outline of the development, to campaign for the scrapping of the bus gate altogether.

They say the planned route will impact on local ecology, create vehicular noise and pollution and compromise the safety of pedestrians, including children using the narrow pavement to the side of the proposed bus link, due to extremely limited space in the opening.

They add it will endanger users of the children’s play area, putting the health and safety of youngsters at risk and increasing the congestion and pollution on Trent Road, which is already overly obstructed for a residential area due to school traffic, and existing buses idling.

Resident Naomi Poole said: “Residents here have real concerns about this bus gate on several levels and there is a strong feeling among residents that it is something that is unnecessary and it is unsafe and we don’t want it in our lovely estate.

“We have concerns that although we will be left with some green space it will be quite reduced and will cause lots of traffic issues and that sort of thing.”

Residents also say the location of the bus gate is not next to existing trunk roads or traffic routes and would create a new ‘over trafficked’ route, effectively splitting the estate in half.

And if bus use is not deemed to be cost efficient, the bus route could ultimately be used as a regular road for all types of traffic, say the residents.

Ms Poole added: “What I personally feel is that we have not been consulted properly on this and residents have woken up to it rather too late.

“Part of the thing with councils is they like to give the impression it’s too late to change things and that way they get less resistance.

“Obviously there was a local plan that was approved and this masterplan is to establish broadly the layout of the development.

“We were hoping this consultation period would allow us to put our objections forward and possibly get the bus lane stopped altogether.

“We do think it is rather destructive to what is at the moment a very well-functioning beautiful estate, with lots of wildlife and green space to play in and we feel that is going to be destroyed somewhat.”

Ian Dix, who is providing highways consultancy to Crest Nicholson and spoke at a meeting last week, said: “As part of this design process there has been some fairly extensive consultations with residents.

“I have attended myself a couple of meetings that have been with the wider community and we have met with a number of residents who are directly affected by the bus route.

“We have had those consultations and they have influenced the design.”

Follow up meetings will be arranged to cover more detailed aspects of the plan in due course.

Warren Farm looking north east from Roxwell Road
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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter