Chelmsford bypass plans set for green light

Plans for a major new road helping connect 14,000 new homes with Chelmsford are set to be given the go ahead this week.

But there has been concerns raised from the main developers of the huge garden community being planned in north Chelmsford around the plans that the bypass is expected to support.

The north east Chelmsford area is expected to deliver significant housing and development growth, including in the future Chelmsford garden community and residential developments in Broomfield and Great Leighs, and in nearby Braintree District.

It is expected that the proposed bypass and the future Beaulieu Railway Station will help unlock approximately 9,000 new homes in this area up to 2036, and provide the potential for a further 5,000 new homes in the longer term.

The Chelmsford north east bypass would largely be within the safeguarded route allocated within the Chelmsford local plan – but there have been some changes around the planning application site for additional structures to allow for road to be delivered.

These include a bridge to allow for the continued operation of the Bulls Lodge Quarry, the relocation of settlement lagoons at Bulls Lodge Quarry and slight alterations to the proposed side road bridge configuration.

The agent on behalf of Countryside Properties and Ptarmigan Land, the developers behind the Chelmsford garden community on land between the current Essex Regiment Way and the new bypass near Little Waltham, have raised concern that this means the amount of land allocated for mixed use development will be reduced.

They added that the roundabout providing access to areas to the east including residential and commercial development as well and the allocated Country Park makes no provision for pedestrians and cyclists.

An Essex County Council officer, which will be hearing the application for the road on Friday, said that while a masterplan for the garden community is currently under development at this time, it is not clear whether this roundabout would be the appropriate location for any cycle or pedestrian access. If it is required at this location then the junction could be modified.

Other concerns have come from Terling and Fairstead Parish Council that the Longfield Solar Farm proposal on 1,400 acres on farmland between Terling and Chelmsford, and the A12 widening from Boreham to Marks Tey junction could all occur at the same time.

A statement from Essex County Council said: “The environmental impact assessment is required to consider all permitted development, the Longfield Solar Farm and A12 widening projects have not gained planning permission at this stage.

“Any highway mitigation would be required to form part those proposals and take account (if approved) of the Chelmsford north east bypass development.

“The Highway Authority is aware of potential for construction overlap of the Chelmsford north east bypass and Longfield Solar Farm and has required co-ordination by the two developing contractors.”

The bypass would see 4.6km of new road and a 1.2km dual carriageway along the existing A131 in North East Chelmsford. It would connect to the new Beaulieu Park development in the south and Deres Bridge and Great Leighs in the north, ultimately providing a vital link between the A120 and the A12.

Noise levels next to the road will rise significantly but this has to balanced against considerable number of properties which would benefit from reduced traffic on other roads, the authority has added.

A statement added: “Overall, whilst there is strong policy support for the Chelmsford north east bypass, it is considered that the need for the Chelmsford north east bypass and the public benefits which would realised need to be weighed in context of the significant impacts which are not able to be mitigated or offset.

“On balance, it is considered that the benefits to the scheme do outweigh the harms and accordingly the development does represent sustainable development, subject to the securement of appropriate safeguards, mitigation and enhancements by way of planning conditions.”

The council says recognition of the need for this infrastructure to support growth north-east of Chelmsford is demonstrated by the award of more than £218million from Housing Infrastructure Fund for the Chelmsford north east bypass and Beaulieu station.

It says that the road will enable the 7,000 commuters who travel to Chelmsford from the Braintree area to get to work more quickly, provide a strategic link between Chelmsford, Braintree, London Stansted Airport and the wider area, relieve congestion on local roads and enable existing routes into Chelmsford city centre, such as Broomfield Road and Essex Regiment Way to become sustainable transport corridors.

It will also provide easier access to the A12, make accessing the new Beaulieu station easier, taking 900 vehicles out of the city centre each morning peak.

Phase 1 of the plan envisages dualling of the existing A131 Braintree Road between Deres Bridge and a new roundabout at Chatham Green, a new single carriageway to connect to the Beaulieu Park Radial Distributor Road (RDR1) currently under construction and an intermediate roundabout for future connection into the Chelmsford Garden Community and second distributor road and as well as construction of new roundabout at Chatham Green.

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter