Moulton residents score victory after bid to reduce size of noise fence protecting them from new bypass is refused

A layout of the new A43 Moulton bypass
A layout of the new A43 Moulton bypass

Residents have scored a victory after their representations helped convince councillors to refuse plans to reduce the size of a noise barrier next to a new bypass.

Moulton homeowners persuaded councillors on Northamptonshire County Council’s development control committee that the reduction of an acoustic fence to three metres, down from five, would affect the quality of their life.

The homes are located next to land which will eventually have the A43 Moulton bypass built on it. The road has already been granted planning permission, but the county council’s highways team wanted to reduce the height of the acoustic fence as it was ‘more cost-effective’.

The bypass will run from the new layout roundabout which joins with Overstone Road down to the Round Spinney roundabout.

Residents turned out in force this morning at County Hall (July 16) to tell councillors about the impact the revised plans would have on their lives.

Jane and Paul Holley, who live on Thorpeville, said: “A barrier of three metres instead of five fails to address the loss of privacy and visual amenity, and safety. We believe reducing the barrier height is extremely detrimental to our health and quality of life.”

Councillors also heard from Robin Marsh and Stephanie Coomer, who brought along children Isaac, Amber and Sapphire. All five addressed the chamber.

Stephanie said: “It feels like I’m risking my life every time I leave the house. For me the relief of having the traffic move from the front to the back of my house was immense, but this has increased the levels of stress again. We have never contested the positioning of the road. All we are asking for is the safety measures included in the original plans to be kept to, not removed because of cost.”

The residents were backed by their ward county councillor Judy Shepherd, who told the council: “This proposal has the considerable knock-on effect of exposing dwellings to much more noise pollution and will lead to considerable lack of privacy than originally designed and mitigated for. This means, for example, that all double-decker buses and passengers and high cabbed lorries will be able to see straight into some of the rear gardens in Thorpeville.”

Members of the development control committee ended up following the officer’s advice and refusing the application from the council’s own highways team. But they also had some concerns over the safety aspect of a pinch point near the Thorpeville end of the bypass.

Committee chairman Dr Andy Mercer said: “For me, the noise issue is a no brainer. But the safety issue is also one of relevance and on the bend near the south of the bypass, I don’t have a great deal of confidence that the speed limit would be adhered to.

“We should be looking at the worst-case scenario of what would happen if a 44-tonne lorry crashed, so I do have a lot of sympathy for the idea of a crash barrier.”

The committee ended up refusing the application on the grounds of noise, loss of privacy and loss of visual amenity, and also on the grounds of safety at the Thorpeville pinch point. It will, however, delegate authority to the assistant director of planning to approve the scheme if the applicants come back with a five-metre acoustic fence as originally proposed, and it resolves the safety issue to the satisfaction of the chair and deputy chair of the committee.

The refusal was welcomed by Lorna McGoldrick, an Overstone Parish councillor who also spoke at the meeting. She said: “We are grateful to the committee for refusing the application, as the residents were vulnerable in this case.”