Hundreds back call for controversial new Northampton road to 'go back to drawing board' over congestion fears
Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling for a controversial new road in Northampton to be taken back to the drawing board as residents provide evidence their traffic fears are vindicated.
Northamptonshire County Council is being urged to withdraw its application for the North West Relief Road (NWRR) after a traffic survey showed the current scheme would cause more queues than its worth.
The local authority defended the scheme, describing it as an 'important part of the town’s future transport infrastructure'.
Sean Brady, from Whitehills and Spring Park Residents' Association (WASPRA), thinks the plans should be withdrawn as it is likely to be a 'costly white elephant' for the cash-strapped council.
“It fails to deliver on any level, and is totally at odds with the authority pledging to be carbon neutral by 2030. There isn’t even a bus lane planned," he said.
"Probably the only winners will be those awarded the contract to build the road."
The NWRR will link the A428 Harlestone Road with the A5199 Welford Road in a bid to reduce congestion in the north-west of Northampton, at a cost of between £25m and £40m, and has been in the pipeline since 2017.
The bypass would effectively be an access point to the 3,000-home Dallington Grange development between New Duston and Kingsthorpe - a formal planning application was submitted on June 10.
But many residents oppose the plan, as shown by the near 700 signatories in only a matter of days, as they believe it will only make traffic worse, as well as damaging the environment and adding to pollution levels.
Sean said WASPRA is 'pleased but not surprised' by the response to the petition which will be submitted as part of its comments on the plans, the window for which ends at the end of August.
"We know how many people are concerned but the council thinks it's just a few people who are a minor inconvenience but we know it's not, it's people across Northampton," he said.
"It will affect their drive to work, their family who live in the area, they are very concerned about and by the time we submit it to the council, we know it will be in the thousands."
No traffic surveys were carried out for the council's transport assessment, which relies on figures from 2015 and projections for 2021 and 2031, due to pressure to meet deadlines.
Those assessments say the road will cause 'significant traffic impacts' from the NWRR to Welford Road at rush hour of up to 15 minutes, increasing to 20 minutes by 2031, but other areas will see benefits.
WASPRA has also disputed there would be any benefits, and that belief has been strengthened after carrying out its own survey of vehicles using the A508/Boughton roundabout from at peak times from July 8-12.
The number of vehicles counted was greater than the council's predicted amount for 2031, even without the NWRR.
Patrick Cross, an experienced transport professional who led the assessment, said: “If the NWRR is built, both it and Brampton Lane will be bumper to bumper for much of the rush hour and drivers will simply seek out alternative routes."
WASPRA believes this is enough to demand the application is redone, all work on the project be halted and it renamed the Northampton North West Development Road, as residents say it will provide no 'relief' whatsoever.
Sean said: “This road will be a car park as soon as it is opens but highways now claims this is a good thing!
"In the woeful public consultation the NWRR was promoted as being a solution to congestion and rat running problems.
"Now its own figures don’t support this, highways is resorting to nonsense."
Among those against the NWRR include Labour's parliamentary candidate for Northampton North, Sally Keeble, who wants to see it scrapped until funding can be found to build a full 'orbital' road between the A428 and the A43, something WASPRA also supports.
A county council spokesman said: “We believe that the North West Relief Road is important part of the town’s future transport infrastructure and is necessary to tackle both current problems and the considerable extra traffic that will come with further development.
"If funding was available then we would be building the Northern Orbital Route at the same time, but to expect Government to be able to fund both schemes together is unrealistic.
"Northampton is in need of infrastructure developments and with funding in place we need this work to commence.”
WASPRA has organised a public meeting to talk about the traffic survey and gather more people's views on the NWRR at the Pastures Community Centre on Welford Road at 7pm on Thursday, August 1.
Anyone who would like to view the NWRR planning application, click here. The window for comments ends on August 2.