As part of the Gateway 14 development, the road between our village and the Cedars Park area of Stowmarket will be closed, to be replaced by a more direct route running through the centre of the new business and enterprise park. In addition, the footpath that similarly links us to the edge of Stowmarket (particularly useful for a gentle stroll to Tesco) will be diverted around the proposed development sites. The stopping-up order permits the closing of the old road and diversion of the footpath and technically requires the approval of the Secretary of State for Transport. Whilst I’m fairly confident that Grant Shapps won’t actually be doing anything other than leaving the matter to a member of the National Transport Casework Team, it does behove us as a statutory consulted to take it seriously.
I’m not all that bothered about the proposed footpath diversion - it’s slightly longer but not much, and the surface will be much improved when upgraded to a bridleway.
The road, on the other hand, is more of a problem. In response, I’ve drafted a response as follows;
DRAFT ORDER: E/4791 - PROPOSED STOPPING UP OF HIGHWAY AT MILL LANE TO STOW PATH CREETING ST PETER, STOWMARKET IP14 5BP
I write on behalf of Creeting St Peter Parish Council, the boundary of whose jurisdiction lies at the point where the newly proposed road joins the existing carriageway.
Whilst the concept underpinning the proposed stopping up of the existing highway and its replacement with the new route (indicated in orange on your draft plan) is supported by the Parish Council, there are two aspects which concern us.
Firstly, the proposed carriageway linking the roundabout to the point where it joins Mill Lane is intended to be considerably wider than the road it will feed traffic into. This will create a “pinch point” for all traffic leaving the planned development the new carriageway is intended to serve.
We would therefore urge conditions that mitigate against this sudden narrowing of the carriageway, perhaps including development of the existing section of Mill Lane as it continues in an easterly direction.
Additionally, the resultant change in carriageway width will occur on the right-angled corner where the new road joins the existing one. A key planning condition for the development for which the proposed new road is the key spinal route is that a 4.5 metre tall bund, with planting on top of that, is to be developed running along the south side of the new road at the point where it approaches Mill Lane. This will evidently eliminate sight lines until the point where the junction between old road and new is reached.
We therefore strongly recommend a redesign of the junction so as to remove the two right-angled bends from the current proposal, to be replaced with a smoothed transition, improving sight lines and reducing the incidence of congestion caused by heavy goods vehicles, in particular articulated lorries, meeting at a section of carriageway unsuited to traffic of that kind. It would also offer the benefit of reducing the amount of braking, and thus noise pollution, affecting residents of the residential properties adjoining the corners in question.
It should be noted that Mill Lane is already the primary route of access to and from the industrial facility at Grove Farm, and thus is used by articulated lorries delivering materials to, and finished products from, a concrete products factory, Poundfield Precast, and thus the question of access for heavy goods vehicles is very much a live one.
In our submission to Mid Suffolk District Council relating to the planning application creating the need for this stopping up order, we noted our concerns about the proposed road layout at Clamp Farm, highlighting the issues with drifting snow at that corner. Smoothing the corner would allow the drifting snow to gather beyond the road, ensuring that the road is open at all times.
We therefore call upon the Secretary of State to require a significant redesign of the intersection between the new road and the existing carriageway along the lines suggested above.
We trust that the issues which concern us have been raised with sufficient clarity, but would be happy to meet with you, or a colleague, to inspect the site and to explain our concerns in the context of the issues impacting upon it.
This is, I emphasise, a first draft response which I’ve asked my fellow councillors to consider, but I think that it’s a thoughtful one, given that there are some advantages to rerouting the road to Stowmarket.
And, it’s a new piece of jargon for me to pick up, so that’s a thing, isn’t it?