BROMSGROVE District Council’s planning committee has refused the reserved matters application for the Perryfields development over the controversial spine road.
The frustration from councillors to the officers’ recommendation for approval was clearly apparent during a very tense hour-long debate.
The main issues centred on the spine road through the development which campaigners claim had been altered by developers Taylor Wimpey from the ‘original route’ agreed by the Planning Inspectorate.
Holly Martin, from Santec, speaking on behalf of the applicant, said a great deal of information submitted to Worcestershire County Council and consultants Jacob’s had been considered to ensure a safe and suitable road layout was achieved.
She added it complied with principles locally and nationally and there had been no objections from Worcestershire Highways or independent assessor Mott Macdonald.
The road design was also compliant with the width and speed to ensure safety for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, she said.
Opposition to the plans
The spokesperson for the Bromsgrove Society, said there were options other than deviating the road, such as a straight route with narrowing, central reservations and green infrastructure.
He added the design was not fit for purpose as it would deter drivers from using it, turning the town centre and roads in Sidemoor into rat-runs. And he said there had been no other proposals to improve the Parkside junction and other roads to cope with the extra traffic from the development.
Campaigner Graham Dallas echoed his calls, saying Perryfields Road – being shut as part of the development – had the capacity to take commercial and private vehicles of all sizes and emergency service vehicles when needed.
“If the council passes this, it will leage a legacy that won’t ease congestion, reduce pollution or improve quality of life.”
Similar points were made by councillors, including Coun Esther Grey who said no-one had anything against the original spine road design, questioning why that one could not be reverted to, along with keeping Perryfields Road open. That way, she said, there would be two roads to share the traffic and ease congestion.
Councillors were told by officers that the shutting of Perryfields Road had already been approved as part of the outline application.
Worcestershire County Council Highways officer George Nock said it was a balancing act between the spine road offering a through route and keeping the speed down to 20mph and this was deemed to do both.
Coun Peter McDonald said: “This is not the right option for local people who can predict what is coming further down the line.
“If we are to approve this, we need to get it right for local people.”
Coun Stephen Peters said: “So the Inspector has already decided this for us – Perryfields Road must be shut and we are going to get this spine road as it is whether we want it or not.”
Councillors were warned by officers the current spine road design complied with what the Planning Inspector had agreed to for the outline permission and turning it down could lead to the district council incurring costs were it to be refused and go to appeal.
Coming to a decision….
After periods of frustrated silence and exasperated sighs, planning committee chairman, Coun Helen Jones, opted to put the application to a vote, requesting a proposer and seconder for the recommendation – an even more lengthy wait ensued and it became obvious no councillor was willing to do either.
Coun Josh Robinson questioned what other methods had been considered, such as a straight road with mini-roundabouts and narrowing, as the county council had implemented in Fordhouse Lane and on other routes.
Vanquished officers, once willing councillors to make a positive decision in line with the recommendation, resigned themselves to asking if members were to refuse it, on what grounds it would be turned down as Highways experts ‘could see no issues with the spine road’.
After councillors of all parties confided, it was finally agreed to refuse the proposal on highways grounds.
‘Councillors disagreed with officers’ recommendations on the basis they were concerned about the current proposals.
‘Councillors felt the spine road plan would lead to more vehicle movements travelling down that road, causing congestion impact on the very road created to prevent it.’
The application was voted on and overwhelmingly thrown out.
- What do you think would be the best solution to ease traffic congestion in Bromsgrove and for new developments? Email [email protected] with your views.