MAJOR concerns over the volume of traffic from the proposed new 2,800 home development by Bentley in Bromsgrove district have been raised by Highways England.
In what campaigners against the development have described as a ‘game changer’ the agency has recommended that any planning permission for the project not be granted for a period of three months from October 14 while it examines the traffic implications of the project.
The scheme, which featured in two major planning inquiries, was eventually given the seal of approval by planning inspector Michael Hetherington earlier this year.
However since then Highways England, the UK’s strategic highways authority, has raised concerns about its potential impact on the M42 at Junctions 1, 2 and 3.
The development could see an additional 5,000 cars on the road network, plus additional vans, buses, lorries and other vehicles servicing the project.
Traffic flowing along the A448 Bromsgrove Highway into the A38 Bromsgrove Bypass is already heavy even at off peak periods while the Redditch new town road network is largely unchanged since it was designed 50 years ago.
In addition the proposed Eastern Gateway development on the A435 which leads to Junction 3 of the M42 is expected to create 2,500 new jobs with even more traffic.
In its latest submission to Bromsgrove and Redditch planning officers Highways England says: “Whilst we are still considering the detailed results of the traffic modelling, it is our initial view of the assessment work undertaken to date that the development will result in severe traffic implications upon our network.
“This view is formed given the implications for congestion and safety on the M42 junctions.”
It goes on to raise concerns of queuing traffic on the M42 slip roads, particularly at Junction 3 of the M42, and calls for a three month delay in granting planning permission while it works with the developer on the issues.
David Rose, chairman of local campaigners the Webheath Action Group (WAG) said: “This is a game changer.
“When you have that number of cars and delivery vans suddenly joining the road network it is clearly unsustainable and it’s obvious the implications of this development have not been properly thought through.”
Such is the concern that local MP Karen Lumley has ‘called it in’ for the Government’s Department of Communities and Local Government – headed by Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid – to re-consider.
Mrs Lumley has in the past made plain her objections to the scheme believing it should instead be built in the Bordesley area of Redditch.
Mr Rose added that WAG, if there was sufficient support, would consider going to a judicial review in a bid to block the plans.