New route for A120 would not solve traffic growth fears, it is claimed
PUBLISHED: 11:52 12 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:52 12 July 2018
The decision to opt for a new route for the A120 between Braintree and the A12 would not help address transport concerns for a major planned housing development in West Tey, it has been claimed.
The development is one of three sites in North Essex that could be developed into garden communities to deliver up to 43,000 new homes along the North Essex A120 corridor.
However Braintree district councillor James Abbott, a member of Braintree District Local Highways Panel and the Developing Democracy Group, said that the new Route D option for the A120 would be too far away from West Tey to provide a solution to questions over transport.
In a recent report into the viability of the development plans, government inspector Roger Clews said that “simultaneously bringing forward three garden communities on the scale proposed in the submitted plan is likely to be difficult to justify”.
He added: “This is mainly because of the difficulty of co-ordinating the provision of infrastructure, particularly large-scale transport infrastructure, with the development of the garden communities.”
Mr Abbott said a new route for the A120 – which would leave the current A120 at Galleys Corner junction, before heading south past Cressing and Siver End, to rejoin the A12 at Junction 23 just west of Kelvedon – “would have no direct relationship with West Tey”.
He added: “What I have seen so far is the leading players of Braintree and Essex County Council are just in denial.
“The report from the inspector was polite but damning – it was a gentlemanly demolition job of their plans.
“He said he could not find the joint plan sound and the key reason was the failure of the council to provide enough evidence to support the development of these very large communities in terms of infrastructure.
“He said the A120 was essential for the garden communities and the route of the A120 had very different implications for West Tey.
“That was a strong a hint as you are going to get that if it goes some distance away from West Tey that it is not going support it and for Kevin Bentley to stand up and say it dosn’t matter is just extraordinary.
“If you boil it down they are saying Route D is cheap.
“But at the end of the day it doesn’t fit with this massive proposal for these garden communities.”
Councillor Kevin Bentley, cabinet member for infrastructure, in a written reply said: “The A120 as everyone knows is not fit for purpose and hasn’t been for very many years now.
“The recommendation to Highways England of option D as ECC’s preferred route represents an important step in seeking to upgrade this strategically important road.
“This decision was arrived at using an evidence led process involving detailed technical assessment and public consultation.
“This work demonstrated that Route D represents the best value for money scheme with good benefits across a range of criteria.
“It will dovetail with the A12 widening and in terms of gaining entry to the RIS2 programme it is the best fit with likely investment levels available from Government.
“We recognise that not everyone will be pleased with the outcome of this work, and we will of course continue conversations with those who could be directly affected, but it is important that we continue to make the case with our partners to secure this vital infrastructure investment for Essex.
“The A120 requires a route upgrade regardless of the garden communities work.
“That the Planning Inspector saw the A120 as a key issue is in fact very helpful as it assists our case for investment, but we were very clear during our work that any one of the A120 options would be able to complement the garden community proposals.
“As I read matters the inspector is simply confirming that infrastructure is an essential element of the larger Local Plan proposals and that Government agencies need to provide more certainty about the surety of the investment programmes, to lend confidence that road and indeed rail projects will be delivered.”
In a separate statement he added: “Garden Communities although an important feature in their own right and while the scale of growth proposed was considered in the planning for the A120, they were not a consideration that influenced the selection of any particular route option.
“The A120 needs upgrading regardless of Garden Communities, being a strategic trunk road affording connectivity between a major port and a major airport and needing to provide first class connectivity between these and important economic centres in Essex and Suffolk.”