One in six drivers would have to walk or cycle to work if planned new houses in Northampton are not to bring chaotic levels of congestion, an MP has said.
Michael Ellis, Conservative MP for Northampton North, gave the warning during evidence at Franklin’s Gardens in the public examination of plans to build 26,000 homes to the north, west and south of the town.
Calling for major new roads to be built before any house building to the north begins, Mr Ellis said: “Arterial and rat runs are even now worn out and, without a north-west bypass, a meltdown will come sooner rather than later.
“There has been much talk by the planners about motorists switching to other methods of travel, as an integral part of their strategy. But one has to be realistic about the sheer numbers involved. As I understand it, the plans require one in six motorists to give up using their car and walk, bike or catch the bus.
“We don’t believe 15 per cent – or even five per cent – is neither practical or socially acceptable. A huge investment in roads is needed. The rule must be ‘i’ before ‘e’; infrastructure before expansion.”
Planners at West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit (JPU) said they were confident five per cent of drivers in Northamptonshire would switch within the 15 years of the plan, thereby solving the issue. It claimed a much higher proportion was achievable in the county town.
But groups such as Whitehills and Spring Park Residents’ Association (WASPRA), backed the scepticism of Mr Ellis.
Chairman Patrick Cross, a chartered member of the Institute of Logistics and Transport, said their studies, which are not disputed by the county council, showed that rat runs off the main northern routes already had volumes 47 per cent more than had been predicted for 2021.
He said: “It seems like the answer the JPU needed is ‘don’t build any more roads’ so they have generated figures to back that up.”