New road could lead to Chelmsford rat run concerns

The design of a new road will be revisited if rat running becomes a major issue, says Chelmsford City Council – which has given the go ahead for a new bridge over the River Chelmer.

The adopted Chelmsford Local Plan has confirmed Chelmer Waterside as an area to provide 1,100 new homes, enhanced access to the waterways and community facilities.

As part of the regeneration, a new road and bridge are needed to provide access to the new neighbourhood, as the only current road access is from Navigation Road. The council has said it has secured advance funding for this part of the scheme from Homes England.

The new bridge – which will replace the existing Bailey Bridge across the River Chelmer, adjacent to the Essex Record Office – will allow a new single carriage bridge to connect the Chelmer Waterside Peninsula onto Parkway on one side and Wharf Road at the other.

The road and bridge was given planning consent at a meeting of Chelmsford City Council on June 22.

But there are concerns about the risk of rat running for people wanting to cross the river.

Mark Deville – who has lived in Chelmsford for 56 years and frequently uses the existing Bailey Bridge crossing to access the towpaths either side of the river – said in a submission to the applicant: “It seems you are removing one well-used useful, safe access route for cyclists and walkers in favour of a short-cut to the new housing development for cars, which will quickly become a rat-run to and from the Army and Navy roundabout.”

Last Tuesday, the officer in charge of the application at Chelmsford City Council told the planning committee: “There is a physical connection at either end but there are build outs to slow traffic down and reduce traffic flow – that makes the journey through this length of the road slower and makes this route that much more arduous.

“That is what the Highways Authority argues is the appropriate means to deal with rat running.

“We will continue looking at this. We have multiple development phases and this is the first phase to unlock that.

“As these new developments come on line we can look at the impact of this road and if there is a little bit of tweaking that needs to be done we will have a second bite of the cherry and make some tweaks to this to make sure it’s working.

“But in the first instance as planners we don’t get the final say of what happens in the carriageway. That is for the highway authority.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter