Letter to Feria 4 developers
BDRA East and Burstead Committee, 8 January 2020, Appendix 1
Billericay District Residents’ Association
Incorporating Billericay Action Group
I write following your event on the 6 December to highlight our further views and concerns particularly in the light of the considerable changes that are apparent.
Firstly let me restate our views that we continue to remain convinced that the draft Local Plan is unsound in its proposals for Billericay. We agree with the views of many residents that Basildon Council has refused to engage constructively with Residents in the preparation of its Local Plan. The refusal by the Feria 4 Developers to allow copies of the slides used in the recent presentations to be made available to those who's time, knowledge and expertise made them possible, just reinforces the belief that the Council and developers are working in their own best interests. This is clearly not in the best interests of the local residents who will ultimately have to live with the results of their decisions.
I have therefore detailed our concerns below and if we have made any mistakes, these perhaps could have been avoided if the slides had been made available.
· Our primary issue is the access point from this site onto Mountnessing Road. Redrow are promoting this independently of your work and through their own consultation. This has the potential for rat-running through the estate from the proposed new roundabout on London Road, and it’s close proximity to the narrow railway bridge on Mountnessing Road needs serious consideration both in terms of adding to existing congestion and from a safety perspective.
· We also have concerns about primary school access from this site, whether to Brightside school (as proposed by Redrow) or to the planned new school within the south west sites. Both routes have safety concerns whether over the aforementioned railway bridge or crossing the busy London Road. We also believe that there is a high potential for short car journeys to schools from this site to either school.
· We note that the land to the west of this site that is for the cricket club relocation in the submitted Local Plan is still shown on your revised plans. In light of your suggestion not to move the club (see more below) we would expect that piece of land to be removed from the extent of H17A and not be used for increased housing.
· Not relocating the cricket and tennis clubs makes very good sense and the concept of creating a sporting village with the football club is in principle a good idea. But there needs to be adequate parking provision as today football supporters park on Tye Common Road creating delays and disruption. This is particularly important if the relief road concept is removed putting even more traffic onto Tye Common Road from the new developments along its length.
· However, with no reduction in housing numbers the spread of development further west beyond the cricket ground into what was to be open public land is of serious concern.
· The introduction of a community hub and shops within this site (or H17C) are welcomed but again they must have suitable parking as residents using this from H17A or D (or from other areas) are likely to drive.
· We remain concerned about the vagueness of where the new primary school will be located and detect that no developers want the responsibility to make such a provision.
· The idea of running the primary estate road through the middle of this site and H17B is welcomed as opposed to the Local Plan currently showing the relief road running as the western boundary. This potentially removes the threat of future housing sprawl on the west side of the relief road.
· However, we are concerned that estate road could be used as a rat-run from Tye Common Road to London Road in both directions by traffic trying to avoid the already congested junction of Tye Common Road and London Road; a junction that is likely to have even worse congestion with sites H17B, C and D adding to the traffic from their access points on Tye Common Road. The existing use of Tye Common Road was significantly under estimated in the submitted Local Plan as the relief road is due to address this by diverting traffic to London Road through the introduction of strict traffic flows onto the relief road.
· We are concerned by the isolation of this site and the lack of connectivity to the other south west sites and the town as a whole, especially as no internal facilities are being suggested.
· The site is the furthest from any existing facilities and will inevitably create a significant number of short car journeys, especially onto its primary access on Laindon Road. The relief road in the submitted Local Plan was justified by removing traffic from the Sun Corner/Laindon Road area, which is the most congested part of Billericay today. Your current ideas for H17D not only remove that ‘relief’ benefit but put even more traffic into the worst area.
· We are also concerned that any access to this site from Frithwood Lane at the western end will have two very negative effects. Firstly, rat-running through the estate from Laindon Road and vice versa (in effect being used as a relief road). Secondly putting more traffic onto the very narrow Frithwood Lane and then onto Tye Common Road.
· The suggested enhanced ‘greening’ of this site is welcomed, especially on the southern edge where a barrier to further housing sprawl is much needed to avoid coalescence with Little Burstead. The potential for the creation of a larger managed open space with Frith Wood and Laindon Common is also appreciated.
· We would like to see thorough analysis and modelling of the suggested shuttle bus before it is accepted as suitable mitigation for short car journeys from the 4 south west sites to Billericay’s core facilities (railway station, High Street shops and schools). Such journeys are the main contributors to congestion in Billericay today. We would also want to see long term commitments to funding the bus.
· The relief road remains a point of concern. The scale of housing in the south west was based on the creation of such a road, and in fact the housing numbers were increased by 1,000 to allow the road be financially viable. The implication being that levies on development would pay for the road. The two remain closely associated in the submitted Local Plan. The council contests that the relief road is essential in easing road congestion in the Laindon Road/Sun Corner area and has no other mitigation for that congestion in the submitted Local Plan.
· Removing the relief road but retaining the housing numbers is a material change to the Local Plan needing a new and through analysis of not only the effects within the sites themselves, but also on the wider road infrastructure. We would argue for a new public consultation as a result, especially considering the point above regarding the congestion relief needed for Sun Corner.
· In light of Redrow recently holding their own site consultation we wonder how strong the commitment is from the 4 developers to the south west Master plan being mandated in the submitted Local Plan. In fact your own latest ideas start to break up the cohesiveness of the 4 sites and some of the linkages are becoming tenuous. The removal of the relief road is a major factor in this. From a residents perspective it is important that the 4 sites are treated as a whole to ensure that the infrastructure requirements for all 1,700 new dwellings are adequacy provided and matters are not looked at piecemeal site by site.
Redrow have submitted an outline planning application for the H17A site, further emphasising our concerns over the lack of cohesive thinking for the south west sites. We also note that Redrow are not including the proposed roundabout on London Road in their planning application, something they have mentioned to us separately. That raises the concern of housing and infrastructure applications and delivery being separated with the potential for development without the necessary infrastructure. We consider that to be totally unacceptable.
I look forward to hearing further from you when you have had time to digest the above comments.