BSCF's Comment on Highways Department Failure

Letter to Herts and Essex Observer

A version of this letter was published in the Herts and Essex Observer of 8 November 2007

The Editor,
Herts & Essex Observer,
12 North Street,
Bishop's Stortford,
CM23 2LQ
28 October 2007

Dear Sir,


Your report in the 25 October 2007 edition of the Observer describes another woeful failure by the Highways Department of Herts County Council.

Your readers may recall that planning permission was granted for a development of around 300 dwellings on the Herts and Essex hospital site, rather than the 165 sought by the local planning authority, East Herts Council because, shortly before the planning appeal was due to be heard, Herts Highways withdrew its objections about the traffic impact, on the grounds that it could easily redesign the junction between Haymeads Lane and Dunmow Road to cope with the extra traffic. Just to be on the safe side East Herts council imposed the following planning condition:

7. Prior to the first occupation of the development hereby permitted details of a traffic calming scheme along Haymeads Lane, Highfield Avenue and Linkside and a scheme for improving the junction between Haymeads Lane and Dunmow Road shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority in consultation with the Highway Authority. The implementation of the approved road improvements…. shall be carried out in accordance with the details and to a timetable to be agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority in consultation with the Highway Authority prior to the first occupation of the development. (My italics)

The access from Warwick Road to the junction would have to be relocated as part of any redesign and early in 2006 the Warwick Road Maintenance Association asked East Herts Council to take action to enforce this condition since no redesign of the junction had been agreed by the local authorities. The condition had clearly been imposed to ensure that traffic congestion and road safety in the area did not deteriorate but East Herts Council declined to take enforcement action. The development is now fully occupied, with the adverse traffic consequences which Herts Highways have done nothing to alleviate and, according to your report, can do nothing about except as part of a traffic management scheme covering the whole town.

This, remember, is the same Highways authority which ignored repeated warnings about the gridlock which the entry and exit arrangements from the Jackson Square car park would create. And unfortunately, there is more to come.

According to your report, Cllr Engel said that the problems would get worse ‘When the Herts and Essex School playing field was redeveloped.’ I think he is jumping the gun on this. The adopted local plan does not designate this site for development, and development would only be proposed if the Herts and Essex and Boys' High Schools relocated together to the undeveloped Green Belt site on Whittington Way. They have not yet applied for planning permission to do this, and if they were to, any proper analysis is bound to show that the traffic impacts would be wholly unacceptable, not just in Haymeads Lane but even more so in and around Whittington Way itself. If an application does come forward, can we trust Herts Highways to carry out a proper analysis of the traffic impacts? On past form, I think not.

Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation