Residents delighted as Warren Farm housing developer abandons bus link proposal

A bus link proposed as a part of huge plans for 800 homes in the west of Chelmsford that residents argued would destroy a “well functioning beautiful estate” has been scrapped.

Crest Nicholson, which is planning the Warren Farm development, had come under fire for the new road for buses, taxis and motorcycles planned between the new estate and the entrance to Avon Road Park.

This bus gate would have cut through the existing park, woodland and children’s play area, and included a new two-way road bridge over Chignal Brook, campaigners argued.

Residents who have been using the masterplan consultation, which will set the broad outline of the development, say they are delighted that the bus gate will no longer be part of the plans.

Instead in its place will be two footpath/cycleway connections between the site and the Chignal Estate to the north and south of the allotments.

There will also be a contribution towards the improvement of a third footway/cycleway connection at the north end of the open space and a contribution towards the Melbourne Way/Avon Road cycleway.

A proposed bus route to the site would run along Roxwell Road, Chignal Road and Melbourne Avenue to connect to the city centre and there will be new/or improved bus stops in Avon Road and Trent Road.

Campaigner Naomi Poole said: “We are delighted that the proposal for the bus gate is not going ahead  and we welcome cycle routes  through the estate.

“Our position has always been that we welcome cycle routes through there – that absolutely is a sustainable mode of transport that we would welcome.

“We have got minor preferences as to the routes they take but we are happy to accept what has been outlined in principle – we might want some input into the detail and certainly we are very happy the bus gate is no longer being put forward as a proposal.”

However, calls for additional car routes have not been successful.

Chris Hibbit, chairman of Writtle Parish Council is worried that if an exit point from the 800-home development is not created either to the north or east of the development, then it will be a “disaster” for traffic on Roxwell Road.

He said that since the proposed site was made public in October 2015, Writtle Parish Council has consistently objected to the development due to worries about increased traffic on Roxwell Road, Lordship Road and through the village.

Cllr Hibbit added that Writtle Parish Council has no objection to the structural aspect of the bus gate being reviewed, but he said the whole justification of this site is based on buses leaving and arriving from the north or east of the development site. If this is not Avon Road, via a bus gate, an alternative solution must be found, he said.

A statement from Crest Nicholson with the new revised masterplan said: “The recommendation of the policy board included an acknowledgement of the doubts about the safety, viability and benefits of the bus link.

“Crest’s position is that the bus link as proposed in the masterplan is safe, viable and provides benefits and is in accordance with the policy requirements of the allocation. However, in acknowledging the concerns of the policy board, Crest have produced this addendum to offer an alternative proposal to the bus link.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter