New cycle path across busy Chelmsford road brings ‘greater potential for crime’

Residents have claimed new cycle path crossing a busy Chelmsford road will help lead to “greater potential for crime and subsequently higher insurance premiums for residents.”

Essex County Council is set to build a new cycle track with a Toucan Crossing over White Hart Lane, linking Beaulieu, Channels and the wider Chelmsford Garden Community, and Springfield areas.

The route will give cyclists and pedestrians an easy way of travelling between the Beaulieu development and Beaulieu Park School – situated on the north side of White Hart Lane – to the greater Springfield area on the southern side.

But residents have set out a number of concerns – including increased traffic that could “bring greater potential for crime”.

One objector proposed that a path could be built through a small green off Barn Green. They said the direction of the route would also encourage pedestrian and cycle traffic to cut through to Paddock Drive via a mews.

They said: “For the residents of these houses the significantly increased traffic will make it difficult to manoeuvre off their driveways safely, especially with cyclists travelling at speed. The increased traffic will no doubt also bring greater potential for crime and subsequently higher insurance premiums for residents.”

Essex County Council in its response said  even if it were used as an alternative route to the signed proposals, cyclists would certainly not do so at speed. The council added “a formalised route is unlikely to cause an increase in antisocial behaviour or have an impact on insurance premiums”.

The cycle path would cut through the play and green area in Barn Green described as a “vital green space for the residents”.

They said: “The play and green area on Barn Green is a vital green space for the residents and their children who regularly play here. The pathway will cut straight through it making it unsafe for children to continue playing there. This is the only green space for Barn Green residents and those of adjacent streets, a reduction of green area and trees to create the pathway would be a huge loss to the community.”

The council said: “Further to your concerns regarding the play area we can also share with you that the children’s play area is being updated by the city council to create a higher standard local amenity as part of this scheme’s preliminary works.

“And whilst this and the proposed route will result in some loss of green space it is thought to be negligible and will be offset by connecting to amenities on the north side of White Hart Lane such as the relocated healthcare centre. As a link is required now, there seems little point in denying the construction of this vital link for want of waiting until closures are announced only to receive complaints from the public that there are not alternate crossing facilities.”

The council adds the plans “would be of benefit for residents of the new developments of Beaulieu, Channels and the wider Chelmsford Garden Community, and Springfield areas” while conceding there is a risk of legal challenge.

It adds: “Whilst there appears to be no real legislative requirement to hold a public Inquiry in view of the objections received, the decision to make the order may be subject to judicial review. Whilst judicial review is a risk, there have been clear and reasoned considerations put forward by the council as to why it is still going to make the order. These clear and reasoned considerations ought to have alleviated objector concerns.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter