Moulsham quartering plans to be “revised” after residents backlash

A controversial plan to divide an area of Chelmsford into four quarters is set to be sent back to the drawing board following hefty opposition from residents.

Essex County Council had proposed dividing Old Moulsham into four quarters with entry and exit from these quarters by road to vary depending on which quarter you are in.

It was linked to plans for Active Travel Fund (ATF) schemes, to encourage more sustainable travel, such as cycling, to reduce car use, congestion and emissions as well as improving public health.

Route 1 of the ATF in Chelmsford would have seen a cycle route from Chelmsford Station, crossing Parkway, through Admirals Park and then onwards through Old Moulsham.

This route was linked to a trial for the ‘Liveable Neighbourhood’ in Moulsham which attempted to incorporate features of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) which filter traffic, so that through motorised trips are inhibited and priority across the neighbourhood is made for walking and cycling trips.

The council argued traffic would have been significantly reduced thus making cycling trips in particular a safer and more attractive option.

But the LTN plans received hefty opposition from residents who say the quatering will hamper simple tasks such as school runs.

They add there is still an increased risk that emergency services will have to negotiate heavier traffic to reach Old Moulsham first due to more traffic on the surrounding roads and that evidence of rat running is anecdotal and no evidence has been presented to show that ‘rat-runners’ are not just locals travelling through the area to get to a destination, perhaps within the area itself as part of a trip-chain.

Equally, they say there is no evidence to show that residents would walk or cycle more than they do now.

And traffic would not be reduced but rather just moved around.

The county council has now said these proposals did not garner sufficient public support and requires a “revised approched”.

A statement in decision papers set to be announced on Friday said: “The proposal was to incorporate a scheme of ‘quarters’ whereby through traffic would have been significantly reduced thus making cycling trips in particular a safer and more attractive option.

“These proposals did not garner sufficient public support. DfT guidance asks that public opinion surveys are undertaken to test public support for these type of schemes as they are Active Travel Fund 2 Schemes 7 experimental in nature.

“The public consultation results indicated significant opposition to these proposals and therefore officers consider that this element of the Chelmsford proposals requires a revised approach and further engagement with the local community.

“Accordingly, it is proposed to not to proceed with route 1 at all in Phase 1 as there is insufficient time to do the necessary work to produce a revised scheme within the parameters of the grant, that said officers will work up proposals for a new scheme.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter