Writtle Parish Council warns of potential traffic chaos

Unacceptable levels of traffic will overload a crucial main artery into Chelmsford if a route out of major housing development is not created, it has been claimed.

Writtle Parish Council chairman Councillor Chris Hibbitt said that he was concerned the plans for a bus gate between the Warren Farm development and Avon Road are hanging in the balance.

He is also 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 it due to increased traffic on Roxwell Road, Lordship Road and through the village.

There are two exits planned on Roxwell Road but in the last five years there have been numerous consultations, meetings, workshops and publications from both the builder, Crest Nicholson, and Chelmsford City Council, and in every case the exit and entry for buses from the estate onto Avon Road has been shown on the site plan.

Cllr Hibbit added that Writtle Parish Council has no objection to the structural aspect of the bus gate being reviewed, but 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.

His comments follow sympathies from the city council with campaigners living in the Chignal estate who want the bus gate scrapped altogether.

The council’s policy board agreed at a meeting on July 16 that more work is needed to be done on the transport elements of the proposal.

Councillors said there were “significant doubts” about the safety, viability and benefits of the new bus link being drawn up as part of the development.

Chignal estate residents say the link road will ‘destroy a well functioning beautiful estate’.

Cllr hibbit said:  “We are not at war with Chignal Estate Residents Association at all. They are fighting their corner and good luck to them.

“But we have got to fight our corner for Writtle and we think that if it goes ahead without a bus gate it will be a disaster for us.

“The problem of the traffic coming out onto the A1060 will be just unbelievable.”

Crest Nicholson, which is planning the Warren Farm development, has 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 will cut through the existing park, woodland and children’s play area, and include a new two-way road bridge over Chignal Brook.

The developer is also proposing a four-way traffic light controlled junction at this location.

The roads around the Trent Road triangle will also be widened, which would include a two-way link for cars on the south side, and a two-way bus only route on the north side of the triangle, building over existing trees and green space.

Crest Nicholson says the bus link, which will see eight buses an hour, is vital for its plans to allow efficient transport in and out of the estate.

The area in which the homes are planned was approved for development when the local plan was passed in May.

Cllr Hibbitt said: “At this late stage, the option of all traffic including buses having to use just Roxwell Road is totally unacceptable. This would no doubt cause traffic chaos.

“In five years in every site drawing there was an exit onto Avon Road.

“In that period why did no one consider how you get a bus through there?

“If they don’t have a second exit and we are told by Essex Highways and by the planners that there has to be a second exit either to the east or north then what we are saying in little Writtle is that the A1060 can’t cope with all of it.

“If a bus gate is proven not to be practical we are not arguing against that  – we are saying the developers will have got to look at another exit. That could end up going through Avon Road.

“Someone somewhere should have thought of all of this some time ago, it shouldn’t come down to the masterplan.”

Crest Nicholson declined to comment.

Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk