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Roads to Nowhere

Our village will be swallowed up in urban sprawl

Sian Berry's picture

6 December: Richard from the Kingskerswell Alliance writes about his disappointment that Ministers have ignored the concerns of thousands of local people to fund the Kingskerswell Bypass... 

Richard Hamlyn from the Kingskerswell AllianceThe Kingskerswell Alliance is very disappointed that the Department for Transport has decided to go ahead with funding for the Kingskerswell Bypass, despite the opposition of thousands of local people. 

When the public consultation was carried out in 2002 the promoters of the scheme stated categorically that there was no connection with the building of the road and house building in the area. This was done to allay the fears of residents concerned about the preservation of our green spaces and gain support for the scheme.

Now, at the 11th hour during the final bidding process, they have not only admitted that there will be an increase in housing but that they are partially dependant on the new homes levy to help finance the scheme. In addition it has not been made clear how much local taxation will have to rise to service the borrowing and for how long. 

The Alliance has predicted that this road will not bring the promised benefits in terms of jobs and increased wages, and that it will also not provide a traffic solution due to its design and the existing infrastructure being unable to absorb the increased vehicle volumes.

So let the Alliance peer into its crystal ball and predict some of the events that will take place over the next 5 years or so…

1. Massive upheaval to residents, commuters and local business during construction. Some businesses unable to cope with the double whammy of a global recession and lack of footfall and forced to close with associated job losses

2. Due to the cost of building, the road being pared back beyond practicality prior to the final bid and the effects of inflation, it is found that the costs have overrun. All increased cost has to be found from local taxation, and local services to the most vulnerable in society have to be cut back still further.

3. New housing being constructed at an unprecedented rate on every bit of available green field. Kingskerswell loses its identity as a village and is swallowed up in the urban sprawl.  Old road still jammed as car volumes rise with housing and no access to new road.

4. On completion local residents dismayed to find traffic light controlled junctions at the Kerswell Gardens end of the dual carriageway. Traffic queues form during busy time the same as before it was built.  Total journey time virtually unchanged, residents demand answers.

5. Promised jobs have not materialised. Investors see no real improvement and set up where there is good access to the A38 and M5.

6. Traffic approaching from Exeter finds the single lane flyover at Penn Inn totally inadequate to carry predicted additional volumes and queues form back to the river as before.  Residents at Buckland state the noise from the flyover is making their lives a misery.

7. Plans to extend the ring road through the Westerland Valley are resurrected with local councillors and MPs stating that this development is "vital" to the needs of local business who have run out of green fields to build houses on. 

The promoters, Devon County Council, have blamed the lack of a bypass for everything from unemployment to teen pregnancy rather than their own inability to run the councils in a workmanlike manner. Companies that want to work in partnership with Torbay Council do not pull out because of the lack of infrastructure, they pull out because they find working with local councillors impossible to reconcile with modern business practice.

What will they use for a scapegoat in the future to calm local people wanting answers as to why the road has not brought prosperity... the lack of an airport for Torbay?

A guest post by Richard Hamlyn, Chair of the Kingskerswell Alliance