FEATURE: Northern Orbital Road will only pave the way for more congestion in Northampton, says community
Not everyone is pleased with the county council's plan to end Northampton's congestion nightmares. In fact, some think it will just make things worse, and carve up the countryside in its path.
The long-awaited Northern Orbital Road is approaching the end of its consultation period on August 4. The plans to complete the town's ring road by linking the A428 Harlestone Road with the A5199 Welford Road have been stagnant since the 1980s, but wheels are finally turning to make it a reality.
In theory, the completed ring road, along with the Â£32million North-West Relief Road, will relieve North Northampton from traffic at key spots, such as Kingsthorpe, by diverting traffic around the town and not through it.
But, with just days until the consultation deadline, some of the town's outlying villages are raising their voices to say that, as it is, the road will not only damage their communities but pave the way for even worse congestion in the future.
"Most people completely understand why we need it," says Charlotte Mackaness, a mum-of-three from Boughton. She is a regular contributor to a Facebook group set up for her community to discuss the Orbital Road and its impact on their lives. "But it hasn't been thought through. Drawing lines on a map is not a plan. There hasn't been enough thought for the homes in its path.
"I've seen so many cases for how it could hurt livelihoods in areas like Boughton. One proposed route will run over a resident's farmhouse, or through a back garden. It will especially damage the horse riding community by taking away bridal paths and destroying paddocks."
But Charlotte also believes the road's real purpose is not to relieve traffic in Northampton. It is to open all the countryside along its route for building houses. So many houses, in fact, that the net results will be even more congestion for Northampton.
When the consultation was opened in June, county council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure councillor Andrew Gonzalez De Savage said: “With the county and Northampton in particular continuing to grow rapidly it is important to get the infrastructure in place.
"These two routes [the Orbital Road and North-West Relief Road] are enormously important not just for Northampton but for the county as a whole as they will help unlock housing and economic growth."
Charlotte said: "It's the same fears that the residents near the Buckton Green development are having. Most households have two cars. The road will open the town up to thousands of more houses, and thousands of more cars.
"Boughton is a proper village and I want it to stay that way. I don't want to see hundreds of identikit houses sprout up all around us. Northamptonshire is a beautiful part of the world and I want my children to be proud of where they come from. We need the developers to know this before they destroy it."
The county council say the Orbital road and the North West Relief Road will be developed independently, but were consulted on together as they "fulfil similar goals".
The consultation closes on August 4. An online survey to give feedback on the proposals can be completed on the Northamptonshire County Council website.