Chelmsford travel plans will make journeys “a nightmare” say residents

Residents of one of the most urbanised areas in Chelmsford have hit out at plans to place heavy traffic restrictions – which they say will add significant delays to every journey and make getting out “a nightmare”.

The Old Moulsham Quarters plan – according to Essex County Council (ECC) – will see residents and businesses able to access and leave their homes and premises via specific entrances and exits for each quarter.

But restrictions will stop any through traffic travelling within the neighbourhood and between quarters. Pedestrians, cyclists and buses will, however, be able to travel between and within all of the quarters.

Within Moulsham it is proposed to install two types of restrictions. The first allowing walking and cycling and the second – also known as a bus gate – permitting pedestrians, cyclists and buses.

It means that – for example – people living in the pink quarter will only be able to exit onto Van Diemans. They can enter and exit via Lynmouth Avenue from Parkway. People living in the yellow zone will only be able to enter via the Odeon roundabout and Moulsham Street They say every journey will have to via New London Road and Parkway.

People living in the blue area will have to travel via Moulsham Street.

Resident Ian Newland – in response to a petition set up by former Conservative ECC candidate Seena Shah to scrap the plans – said: “This will make getting out of Old Moulsham a nightmare and I don’t see how it will reduce traffic.

“It will increase traffic at the busiest junctions as residents will be forced into their nearest exit from the area.

“Many of us already walk or cycle for short journeys and only use our cars when necessary. This will just make those journeys where travel by car is the only option more stressful.”

Marie Goldman, an ECC councillor who represents Moulsham, said: “There are serious issues with it. I am in favour of active travel but I think all proposals have to be properly thought through.”

Cllr Goldman who lives in the pink quarter which can only be exited via Van Diemans Way added that “Van Diemans Way is already at maximum capacity”.

She continued: “It queues down there in the morning and evening and quite often in the middle of the day. If there is a problem on the A12 it is a disaster zone anyway.

“Rather than residents being able to disperse through Moulsham – you can’t.

“If there was a problem at Van Diemans I might choose to go up Moulsham Drive and to the Miami roundabout and get out that way. But this will prevent me from doing that.

“It forces all traffic in the pink zone to go out via Lady Lane and to Van Diemans and onto a roundabout, which is already pretty congested and puts more pressure on the Army and Navy.”

Speaking of being unable to travel between the quarters, Cllr Goldman suggested this will cause problems for people with young children with Moulsham Infant School in the blue zone, while Moulsham Junior School is on Princes Road.

She said it means parents will have to drive in and out of each quarter just to get to school if they are not living in the blue quarter where Moulsham Infant School is located.

Cllr Goldman added: “What about delivery vans? They have multiple deliveries on their route  – one might be round the corner from you.

“This is going to be much more difficult. They are going to have to come in and out of the different areas using all those exits and entrance points and that will make their journeys longer.”

She added: “If you have to walk between the different areas  and quarters you will have to walk back to your car so you can drive to work.

“It makes life a lot more inconvenient.“

But resident Theo Theodorou said: “I live in the yellow area. We experience lots of drivers cutting through. I have finally been through the whole proposal with a computer rather than my phone. I now think it looks good. I am surprised to say it.

“The cut throughs need addressing. In the yellow quarter it will work well. The green quarter also makes a lot of sense as does the blue. The pink area is the issue.  Getting out of Lady Lane is an issue and will need supporting lights I would imagine.

“Having to drive up to the Army and Navy to get out – is a no go. Life would not be worth living with that queue. However, with lights to enable a right turn – that would work well.

“It seems a lot of the cut through traffic will be stopped with this well thought out proposal. I thought I would be signing the petition. Pleasantly surprised.”

The plans are a part of a wider package of proposals to radically alter transport networks across the city with Liveable Neighbourhoods, school streets and improvements to three cycle routes, enabling people to walk and cycle safely between key points in the city, while also creating better connections to the existing cycle network.

A statement on a website dedicated to the proposals reads: “Chelmsford has one of the highest levels of walking and cycling in Essex and through creating the right infrastructure and interventions we have the opportunity to grow it further.

“Cutting car use and supporting people to move to greener, healthier forms of travel in our city is a necessity if we are to ease congestion, improve air quality, support greater health and wellbeing and tackle climate change.

“But we understand that for many, convenience and safety fears are barriers to moving away from using their car. That is why we are looking to support people in making those short journeys across the city in a safer, easier way.”

A spokesperson for Essex Highways said: “These proposals are currently the subject of a public consultation, please go to: https://bit.ly/3fKtbUw.

“While we recognise that petitions are one way in which people can let us know their concerns, we would encourage anyone with views on the proposals to respond directly to the consultation, then their views have to be taken into account, by law.

“We will also be gathering data from other sources such as polling, focus groups, direct engagement and traffic counts and all of these findings will be used to agree next steps.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter