from Alex Riley
Many of you will have seen the signs proclaiming that the Airfield Road will shut next Monday, 21 May. This post aims to fill you in on some of the background.
As you may remember, Simon Edwards and I met up with Philip Harker (Homes England) and Becky Allen (Sisk’s) on 23 April. Arising from that a second meeting was arranged, to involve our new District Councillors (Sarah Cheung Johnson was able to attend). I sent the participants of that meeting a briefing note which contained the following points:
- Longstanton fully accepts that as part of the Northstowe development the Airfield Road will be intersected by the new main road from Bar Hill to Northstowe and that at that time there will be no through vehicular traffic from Longstanton. I am not entirely clear about the arrangements between Northstowe and Oakington which I think will be emergency vehicles only, but that is not today’s topic.
- We have been repeatedly assured that the Airfield road will not be closed until the local A14 upgrade is completed. The A14 is currently a disaster and the queues down the B1050 at peak times are very lengthy.
- As part of the A14 upgrade there have been several recent instances when the B1050 is closed. This causes extreme traffic disruption. There will be more such closures in the coming months. To have the Airfield road closed at such times will cause completely unnecessary chaos.
- We have been repeatedly promised that the road cannot be closed without a public consultation taking place. Yet what is now promised is a “temporary” closure for 18 months to coincide with the peak upheaval due to the A14 upgrade. This will be seen as cynical.
- Maybe the most relevant point of all to come out of our discussions on the 23rd is that in fact Sisk’s do not really need to shut the road at all at the moment. An arrangement such as operates at the base of the B1050 would be entirely adequate, with construction traffic getting priority whenever the need it. The final access road to Northstowe might be higher than the current Airfield Road but that will not be constructed for some time yet.
- The original commitment was that the Airfield road would be closed because the new main road from Bar Hill had reached it. That road has not even been started yet.
- This road provides a temporary lifeline for many law-abiding citizens during the upheavals of the A14 works. A very vociferous minority is demanding that it is shut prematurely. I am just asking that reason prevails in your deliberations.
At the recent meeting Pete Hudson read out the statement the County legal department had given him that day:
“County Highways have no choice in this as the contractor is carrying out a SCambs planning requirement. Once a request for a TTRO [Temporary Traffic Regulation Order] is received to complete a requirement of the planning authority, they follow the correct procedure as in contacting the emergency services for comment. If they have no objections then county will grant the request as it is a District Council planning requirement. However, if for any reason this requirement is changed by the planning authority and the contractor withdraws the request then the County will also comply with that request”.
So in fact there never was any point in either of these meetings taking place unless SCDC changed the terms of the planning consent or Sisks/HE withdraw the application. As it is, Homes England and Sisk’s are adamant that to achieve their schedules they need the road closed immediately.
You may recall that the Annual Road Run, due last month, was cancelled because the Airfield Road was going to be closed by then.
In the days when there was a Northstowe Committee such a decision would not have been reached without it having been discussed and agreed by them. Sadly, Northstowe development now takes place with next to no democratic involvement by South Cambs. All the commitments previously made have been ignored for the sake of convenience.
The Airfield road closure is on the agenda for tonight’s Community Forum which starts at 7 in the new Northstowe Primary School. I am sure that answers will be forthcoming to any questions you might have.