“Greedy developers”; “Cheap Options”; “Whatever we do will be a disaster”; “Better to wait until we have future planning permissions”; “Let’s talk to the developers”. Under Jenrick’s new planning proposals will this sort of problem become less likely? – Owl
Fears over gridlock chaos in Devon
Lewis Clarke www.devonlive.com
Fears a busy area will become ‘completely and utterly’ gridlocked have been voiced as housing development continues in Sticklepath.
Devon County Council is looking at the possibility of revoking a bus gate at Gratton Way, which is operated by a rising bollard system, and introduce a new bus gate on Old Torrington Road to the north of the junction with Gratton Way, enforced with cameras.
Traffic would then be directed through Gratton Way to the new development, the crematorium and properties at the southern end of Old Torrington Road instead of from the A3125 on Bickington Road.
The council hopes this will help better manage traffic in the area and reduce congestion due to the new housing development at Larkbear, where permission has been granted for 200 homes with the potential for more.
During a consultation period, 224 responses were received, with 174 in favour and 47 objectors. The council also backed the move.
At the North Devon Highways and Transportation Orders Committee held on Wednesday, July 7, Councillor Caroline Leaver (Barnstaple South, Liberal Democrat) said: “The reason for the bus gate is the impact of the additional traffic that is being generated by those houses. It is something that has been fully considered and has been subject to public consultation.
“We found that the impact of another rat run at the Wrey Arms roundabout, and indeed on Rhododendron Way and Broadclose Road, would impact them significantly enough that planning permission would not be granted without it.
“The other issue is about getting to the crematorium. Once we get the bus gate, we can discuss restrictions; there is nothing to say a bus gate has to be 24-hours a day.
“This has been explored extensively; it’s trying to avoid a problem becoming even worse. It is not about trying to restrict people, so they are not able to move around, but to protect an area becoming so completely and utterly gridlocked that people can’t go about their normal daily lives.”
Early morning traffic congestion at the junction of the A3125 with the B3233 – This queue of traffic into Barnstaple occurs every weekday morning and further housing developments in Bickington, Fremington and Yelland are likely to exacerbate the situation. (Image: Roger A Smith / Geograph)
Councillor Ian Roome (Barnstaple North, Liberal Democrat) said people were currently using the bus gate on Gratton Way as there was no legal way of enforcing traffic there.
He said: “Everyone is using that bus gate now anyway, whether you like it or not. I was there the other day, and cars are going through it willy-nilly.”
Councillor David Knight, a committee member representing North Devon Council, added: “If we do nothing, we are rubber-stamping people using it as a rat run.
“Doing nothing doesn’t do anything for residents in Rhododendron Avenue and Broadclose Road who are suffering greatly from people shooting up that narrow road.”
Speaking to councillors, Michelle Ward, a resident of Tower View and a driving instructor, said the area had been plagued with issues.
“We used to be able to collect our students anytime and anywhere around the Barnstaple area,” she said.
“Over the last five years, it’s been a total nightmare. We no longer collect students from Fremington, Bickington, and Roundswell between 7.30 am, and 9.30 am due to the sluggish and stagnant traffic.
“We also get a lot of complaints from parents that their children are in lessons and sat in traffic.
“As a reputable company, this didn’t sit well with us at all. We don’t like complaints of any sort, especially when people are sat in traffic.
“My husband and I, along with 40 other driving instructors, find the traffic in Barnstaple so unpredictable and often gridlocked from Bickington through to the hospital. The bus gate move will alleviate the traffic issues on this side of town and will be life-changing for residents living in this area.
“The bus gate move will encourage drivers to use the A361 and the A39 circular routes which have been put there to avoid the town.”
However, some members called for a delay in the decision.
Councillor Paul Henderson (Conservative, Chulmleigh and Landkey) said: “It’s a very emotive subject. People on Old Torrington Road and further north will not want increased traffic flow, but people living south in the new estate with much longer journeys going around.
“Surely it’s better to leave the bus gate issue until we have future planning permissions, which will see the new site access and new homes being developed being required to manage traffic flows.”
“This was going to be a sensible development with access off the A361,” he explained. “It was going to link into the back of Petroc to take coaches off Old Torrington Road, and it was a win-win.
“Then the greedy developer has come along, saw it was going to cost a lot of money, and did the cheap option to come out on Old Torrington Road.”
He said it was now a ‘complete nightmare’.
“I think the sensible thing to do now is nothing,” he said. “People will take the fastest and shortest route, and we can take a look at where people start going.
“Whatever we do will be a disaster, and adding all these extra houses will make it a bigger problem. Let’s talk to the developers, bring it back for discussion as soon as we can, and get this as right as we possibly can.”
Councillor Pru Maskell (Braunton Rural, Conservative) added: “Why was that development given planning permission without the original proposal for access onto the A361?
“It seems this whole issue has been created by that fact, and it could have solved a huge amount of traffic issues if that had happened.”