Herefordshire Council is only promoting one element of the scheme – the building of a southern link road, from the A49 to the A465.
The Council has finally published its recommendations for the South Wye Transport Package in its 13 November 2014 Cabinet papers ( see here ). Contrary to the promises made in its Consultation documents, the ‘Package’ going to Herefordshire Council Cabinet is limited to proposals to build a Southern Link Road across the open countryside of Grafton and Merryhill. All talk of ‘complementary sustainable transport measures’ has been consigned to history. These measures can no longer be described as ‘complementary’ as they are now to be introduced, if at all, after the delivery of the Southern Link Road.
How did it come to this? Was the use of the expression ‘Transport Package’ a deliberate attempt to conceal another road building programme, designed to facilitate more house building across open countryside? Were the original proposals to implement an integrated package of transport measures nothing more than a Public Relations exercise?
And what about the Hereford Enterprise Zone? As part of this ‘Transport Package’, the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership was working on Rotherwas HEZ schemes to bring sites forward for development such as utilities, a pumping station, removal of a spoil heap, broadband, access roads etc. Described as ‘intervention works to progress EZ’, these too will only be commissioned, if at all, after the delivery of the SLR.
Why does the Council fail to promote further cycling measures, adding to its admirable record of building a cycle way to Rotherwas with SUSTRANS support? The Southern Link Road proposal does not even make provision for cycle lanes at either end of its preferred SC2 route, and the South Wye Transport Package consultation brochure omitted to mention cycle ways across town and through the City directly to Rotherwas. It is nothing short of scandalous that the Council can choose to ignore its own policies designed to promote active travel with public health benefits, and promote, instead, more congestion on the A49, with associated increases in air and noise pollution, and the possibility of more accidents on this strategic route in and out of Hereford.
The Marches LEP should look again at its policy objectives and re-consider its support for the Southern Link Road, now that the Council has shown that it is prepared to abandon critical elements of the South Wye Transport Package. £7 million of the £27.6 million Local Growth Fund available from the LEP should be diverted to the Sustainable Transport Max elements in the original South Wye Transport Package on which consultation took place in the summer of 2014. The case for the Southern Link Road as a stand alone project has not been made. The balance of money from the Local Growth Fund for this road should be re-allocated by the Marches LEP to other more immediate enterprise requirements within the Marches localities, such as the ‘intervention works to progress EZ’ listed above.
If the application for Planning Permission for the Southern Link Road goes ahead, more details about this will be posted on the Here for Hereford website.