THERE will be no improvements made to the A435/ A448 south from the Redditch Eastern Gateway until at least 2025/26 – and then the scheme is dependent on winning government backing.
Warwickshire planning officer Ben Simm told a packed public meeting at Mappleborough Green Primary School: “The government is making us sweat our assets to the maximum.
“And when you (the people of this area) say we are operating at 200 per cent the government takes that as the baseline, and unfortunately there is no money available.”
He was one of three county officers who attended the meeting on Monday night, June 10, organised by Mappleborough Green Parish Council.
People heard that any cash that could come will be through the ‘Major Roads Network’ funding but even then the A435 is not one of Warwickshire’s top three routes competing for that money with nothing likely to be done before 2025/26.
It means for years there will be no money to improve the island at Crabbs Cross, the junction at Spernall Ash where the A448 meets the A435, reduce traffic through Coughton or to alleviate the flooding risk at Kings Coughton.
Mr Simm said modelling carried out by the Eastern Gateway applicant, Stofords, and independently by Warwickshire, showed additional HGV traffic heading south on the road ‘would be minimal’ – in the region of two per cent.
He added the use of numberplate recognition cameras, and a £200,000 bond on Stofords – both concessions rung by Warwickshire County Council and Stratford District Council – would also help deter HGV drivers using the road ‘without justifiable cause’.
Much was made by attendees of using the A448 Slough route from Redditch, but Mr Simm said with air quality concerns in Studley at the Barley Mow island The Slough was recognised as a suitable HGV route, to which one Redditch taxi driver said: “Have you seen an HGV turn at the Crabbs Cross island?
They have to cross over to the other side of the road to get round!”
To calls from Claire Davies of Redditch Greens to insist all Gateway traffic go north to the M42 before heading south, Mr Simm said such an imposition was not ‘fair and reasonable’ and could lead to the authority suffering a damaging – and expensive – loss in the law courts if challenged.
To fears of HGVs parking along Far Moor Lane awaiting entry to the Eastern Gateway he said Stofords had accepted lorries had to be accommodated onsite.
Fellow planning officer Nick Dauncey said they were to start working with Worcestershire County Council to look at options to ease pressure on the road, for instance at Spernall and Crabbs Cross island, if their bid for Major Roads Network funding was successful.
“This is going to take quite a length of time as unfortunately the nature of the scheme is that we have to tick quite a few boxes,” he said.
“It’s a competitive process so we need to get all our evidence in place because without that we will not get any funding.”
However the A435 is not being considered for the first slice of money but he said there was ‘a reasonable chance’ of it being highly ranked on the next list.
Speaking after the meeting Mappleborough Green resident Will Brown, who’s work takes him to many business parks, said: “If you’re looking at the northern site of the Gateway that’s 150 HGV bays.
“If it’s an Amazon-type operation working on a fast turn around you don’t need twice that many HGVs you need three, four times that many.
“You’re creating a 24 hours operation running three shifts a day and that’s a lot of vehicle movements.”