South Woodham Ferrers homes bid “sneaking through” contentious road plans say residents

A bid to build more than 1,000 homes in South Woodham Ferrers has been branded a way of “sneaking through the grossly inadequate highways proposals” by a residents group.

Developer Countryside’s submission for outline planning for Oaklands Meadows – a development of up to 1,020 new homes, north of Burnham Road – also comes with an application for detailed planning permission for access to and from the development.

At its heart the B1012 Burnham Road will be the primary route from the Dengie to all feeder and trunk routes into an urban street with six pedestrian crossings.

Two other Toucan crossings are planned for the B1418.

Woodham Infrastructure group suggests that the current proposals will likely result in Ferrers Road becoming a “rat run” through the centre of South Woodham Ferrers as drivers from North Fambridge and beyond try to avoid this section.

The group says this will add to the current queues and predict it to substantially increase the town’s traffic pollution and reduce air quality.

A spokesman for Woodham Infrastructure Group said: “There is widespread anger in South Woodham Ferrers and the Dengie about the way infrastructure issues linked to the proposed SWF housing development have been handled.

“The current bypass – the Burnham Road – B1012 – is being downgraded to an ‘urban street’ with eight interruptions to traffic flow – and there are no plans to build a replacement bypass. This will result in gridlock.

“The latest development is a ‘hybrid’ planning application which appears to be intended as a way of sneaking through the grossly inadequate highways proposals. The documents in this bundle – and there are over 100 of them – are badly assembled, riddled with errors, unnecessarily long and very hard to fathom.

“It rather look as if whoever was responsible had never visited South Woodham – for example they think we have an “Oaklands” railway station.

“If this package had been put together by a bunch of sixth formers, their school would be placed in special measures overnight.”

The group claims that given the option agreement with Countryside for the 116 acres of Hamberts Farm.

Essex County Council has said the development will “provide ECC with substantial capital receipts over the coming years from 2023 onwards” – it is not in a position to offer clear impartial advice over the impact on roads.

A survey carried out by Woodham Infrastructure Group last year showed 95 per cent of respondents thought the current proposals will result in increased traffic congestion and that the plans needed revising.

The Woodham Infrastructure Group spokesman added: “Essex County Council wants to take millions out of South Woodham Ferrers through its involvement with this development and, as usual, plans to put nothing back. It wants the developer to pay for any infrastructure improvements – which is presumably why the town is losing its bypass.

“A survey conducted last year showed no confidence in Chelmsford City Council, Essex Highways and the developers. A new survey is underway and is expected to pass a similarly damning verdict on all those responsible for this debacle.”

A spokesperson from Countryside said: “The transport aspects of this proposal are based on principles determined by the Chelmsford Local Plan, which was independently assessed and adopted by the City Council in 2020.

“However, following extensive pre-application consultation, the proposed plans for Oaklands Meadows proposes significant improvements to key junctions close to the site, alongside enhanced public transport services and walking and cycling opportunities, to help address any concerns.

“Our proposals for Oaklands Meadows have been developed following feedback from local groups and communities and seeks to provide residents and the wider community with high quality new homes, expansive green open space, provision for a new primary school, allotments and community facilities.

“An earlier draft of some material for the planning application for Oaklands Meadows was uploaded on to the development website in error and this has now been rectified and we apologise for any confusion caused.”

Essex County Council and Chelmsford City Council have been contacted for comment.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter