What the Cabinet Report didn’t say about the Highways Agency

The Conservative Cabinet of Herefordshire Council have just approved a Southern Link Road for Hereford and so failed to adopt the Highways Agency’s guuidance on implementing sustainable transport measures BEFORE embarking on road building schemes.

The Conservative Cabinet’s decision to recommend a Southern Link Road route has left the sustainable transport elements within the South Wye Transport Package high and dry.
These included:-
* Pedestrian crossing improvements to both the Belmont Road and the A49 in the South Hereford area;
* Cycle and walking provision, on and off road, along the South Wye A49 and A465;
* Residential cycling schemes in Belmont and Bullingham.

These are the schemes within the Marches LEP Strategic Outline Business Case (March 2014) that accord with Highways Agency guidance. They are part of the South Wye Transport Package. Did the Council think they could just ignore these schemes by failing to mention the Highways Agency guidance in their Report to Cabinet?

This is the Highways Agency guidance omitted from the Report to Cabinet The Agency notes that that the South Wye Transport Package provided a series of complementary transport measures. This is welcomed in principle as under current guidance the building of new road infrastructure could only be justified in policy terms when other avenues such as travel planning and sustainable travel modes had been developed and shown not to address the transport needs and issues identified. We note the commitment to improve cycling and walking environments on the A465.[1]

Here for Hereford has already commented on the spurious claims in the Marches LEP business case echoed in the Council’s report to Cabinet that the Enterprise Zone cannot be delivered without the addition of the Southern Link  Road (http://www.hereforhereford.co.uk/2014/11/some-questions-and-answers-on-the-southern-link-road/ ).

If this Southern Link Road was about improving access for local residents this brand new link road would not just be a single carriageway road, but it would also have sufficient carriageway width for safe cycle lanes and a footpath for pedestrians. However, the new road  is not planned to accommodate cyclists or pedestrians, and makes no links with safe cycle routes or footpaths in the area despite the fantastic scenery and ancient woodland around South Wye. South Wye already suffers from a lack of parks and open spaces, particularly in the Belmont area and this impacts on the health of many local residents.

If the Southern Link Road is built, traffic congestion on the A465 Belmont area will reduce initially but with the well known effects of induced traffic as a result of road building, and the anticipated housing growth in South Wye, there will ultimately be no improvement in journey times. In addition, there will be adverse impacts on active travel, noise and air quality, and on numerous environmental and heritage assets. As far as the A49 is concerned, congestion, pollution and general frustration with Hereford’s transport policies will just get worse.

It is time for the Southern Link Road to be rejected at planning application stage.

[1] Highways Agency response to Herefordshire County Council re South Wye Transport Package Consultation 7-8-14


This entry was posted in Transport. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.