East Suffolk: My A12 nightmare

PETER Norris, who lives on the notorious “Farnham bend” on the A12, says a bypass is desperately needed for long-suffering villagers.

PETER NORRIS bought a house beside the A12 at Farnham in 1995 when work was due to start on the bypass project. But the scheme was pulled at the eleventh hour and the 48-year-old marine engineer – who lives in the cottage with his partner Wendy Bates – was left suffering the impact of increasing, heavy traffic thundering past his home. Here, he explains what is it like to have a main road inches from your front door.

“OKAY...so why do you live there?”

This always seems to be the question that people ask after they have listened to what life is like on the edge. On the edge of the A12 on the bend in Farnham village that is.

Once they’ve heard about and seen the volume of traffic, the speed, danger and noise of it, they go on to imply that it is my own fault for living there.


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How could it be my fault? What are the facts about living on the Farnham bend?

The village of Farnham and the houses and buildings that it comprises have been here for hundreds of years.

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The road was perfectly fine in those early times for use by pedestrians and horses and carts. Times have moved on though!

The road has become a barrier separating one side of the village from the other to be crossed at your peril.

We now have approximately 18,000 motor vehicle movements a day.

The last official count was five years ago on a snowy February day when 16,000 were recorded.

In addition the size of the heavy goods vehicles has increased such that two large HGVs cannot physically pass on the bend and have to leave the road to do so.

The road is simply not suitable for modern traffic.

Traffic speed is never effectively policed, the vast majority of vehicles break the 30mph limit as they approach the bend especially those travelling south.

However, the police indicate that it is too dangerous for their officers to set up speed checks and pull vehicles over.

Access to properties is a nightmare.

Pulling in and out of driveways is very dangerous, from my drive the bend to the right is completely blind and so whether turning right across it or left to join the oncoming traffic I am taking my life in my hands.

Pedestrian access is equally bad with there being virtually no pavement.

On more than one occasion I have had to take immediate evasive action to escape a vehicle mounting the kerb as it negotiated the bend.

Forget cycle access which is nothing less than suicidal – vehicles will knock you off rather than wait behind.

Just living is very challenging with constant traffic noise.

Our televisions and radios have to be turned up beyond normal levels, our front bedrooms are virtually unusable and, although we sleep at the back, we are often woken by HGVs thundering round the bend causing the whole house to shake.

We have radiators that rattle on their brackets and our front door and windows have to be permanently sealed to prevent road filth from entering.

After heavy rain standing water builds up against the kerb and traffic passing through it causes a deluge over the front of our property sufficient to hit first floor windows and with sufficient force to penetrate the panels of the hardwood front door and even the letter box.

This means that we have to have towels inside permanently to soak up the water and save carpets.

Normal house maintenance has become impossible because of the danger.

In the past whilst painting upstairs windows the wing mirror of a passing lorry has clipped my ladder.

On another occasion I just managed to throw myself through the open front door to avoid being hit by a HGV as it mounted the pavement to pass another on the bend.

Fear is perhaps the worst of the issues.

We live in constant fear of accidental demolition – the house has been hit on several occasions whilst we have been living here.

We have had guttering, fascia board, roof tiles and barge boards ripped away by a passing lorry carrying a large load, also a large chunk of brickwork was knocked out of the corner of the house by a lorry.

Before we lived here two thirds of the front wall and windows were knocked down as a lorry collided with the property.

I have now erected a yellow and red board on the corner of the house to alert drivers to the danger, however there is just insufficient room for them to take correct measures to avoid us when a vehicle is approaching from the opposite direction.

This can be seen also by the fact that the garden wall of the house opposite has been knocked down something like 11 times in the last 13 years.

This is also further testament to the number of vehicles going too fast down the hill into the village and losing control on the bend.

So is it my own fault for living here? I don’t think so.

Firstly, it is not the houses that have changed over the years only the road and the unreasonable demands placed on it.

Secondly when I moved here there was an agreed bypass with a route avoiding the village altogether, clearly the case for a change had already been accepted.

However, the government subsequently withdrew funding and since that time we have been unable to secure any assistance to make our lives and those of the other villagers of Farnham anywhere near tolerable.

It is a minor miracle that nobody has been killed on the bend; there have been some close calls though.

Please don’t let us have a situation where somebody has to die before something is done.

BYPASS 4 THE VILLAGES

THE East Anglian Daily Times has launched a campaign, Bypass 4 The Villages, to call for action on the long-awaited A12 scheme.

People living in Little Glemham, Marlesford, Stratford St Andrew and Farnham are forced to suffer the daily ordeal of thousands of vehicles – including HGVs – thundering past their homes.

Plans for the bypass project were drawn up more than 15 years ago but funding for the road was pulled by the Government at the eleventh hour in 1996.

Since then, villagers have seen the level of traffic increase significantly on the main Ipswich-to-Lowestoft route, which has had a draining impact on their quality of life.

The narrow, single carriageway road snakes through the four villages, prompting fears over safety, congestion and air pollution.

They believe now may be their best chance to see the bypass finally built as energy firm EDF looks to build a new nuclear power plant at Sizewell.

Suffolk County Council, which owns the road, has said the project is the “number one priority” for road building in the east of the county but believes it is unlikely be given any Government funding for the project.

The bypass scheme was costed in 2006 as �56million for a dual carriageway road – which would stretch from Wickham Market to the Friday Street junction at Benhall – or �32m for a single stretch.

The EADT believes that the road is needed to protect the villages – and to boost the economy of the county – regardless of any other development and is now calling for support from the wider community to show the strength of feeling about the situation.

To show your support for the campaign, complete the campaign coupon or go to www.eadt.co.uk/bypass4thevillages.

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