Proposed traffic lights in Attleborough would ‘put lives at risk’, it is claimed
- Credit: Archant
Residents rallied against a proposal to install three new sets of traffic lights around Attleborough's town centre, fearing the move would lead to regular snarl-ups and put lives at risk.
The so-called 'town centre highways improvements' was one of seven traffic issues discussed at a packed extraordinary meeting of the Attleborough Town Council on Monday, January 30.
More than 100 people were at the event, where the scheme came under fire from councillors and members of the public alike.
However a county council spokesman said the proposed measures could help manage the early impacts of planned growth, until a link road connecting the A11 to the B1077 could be built.
Councillor Tony Crouch said: 'Traffic lights will kill the town centre. People will go elsewhere for shopping.'
Another councillor, Geoff Ellis, said: 'The more traffic lights they put in here, the worse it will get.'
The proposal would open the one-way Surrogate Street to traffic both ways.
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Mark Wilson, watch manager at Attleborough Fire Station, said more traffic lights would make it even more difficult for firefighters to reach the station before a call out, which could put lives in jeopardy.
He said: '100pc it would risk lives.'
Mr Wilson said some of his retained firefighters had bought bicycles to keep at spots around the town, just so they could avoid the snarl-ups and get to the station in the required four minutes, four seconds, for call-outs.
Tailbacks are already a constant headache for the town's road users - a problem made worse by the railway level crossing, which stops traffic more than 80 times a day.
He said there would be public consultation on the scheme once a planning application had been submitted to Breckland Council.
It is understood the scheme would cost up to £4.6m, to be paid for by the region's local enterprise partnership, New Anglia.
Jeremy Burton, town mayor, said road improvements were urgently needed, but extra traffic lights were not the way to go.
He said: 'The town has grown enormously and another 4,000 homes are planned to be built in the next 20 years. With developments like there is some money coming in, but we need to spend it wisely to best benefit the town.'
Norfolk County Council's position
A spokesman from the council said: 'The County Council is looking at proposals to introduce traffic signals in the town centre to improve traffic flow. The proposals include the introduction of traffic signals at the northern and southern ends of Surrogate Street and making Surrogate Street two way. A further set of signals is to be installed at the Connaught Road / High Street junction which is an agreed planning requirement of the approved housing development on London Road that is currently being constructed by Taylor Wimpey.
'At the present time the detail of the proposals are being worked on. We will be carrying out initial consultations with the Town Council, all emergency services including the Fire Service, the Church/Diocese, the District and other affected landowners.
'Following this, there will be two rounds of public consultations where stakeholders will have the chance to comment on the proposals.
'The rationale for these improvements arise from large scale growth planned for the town.
'The planned growth of 4,000 houses and employment land means that a new link road is required to join the A11 at Breckland Lodge to the B1077 near Bunns Bank.
'The current signal proposals are recommended as a means of improving traffic conditions in the town centre and to help manage the early impacts of the planned growth on the town, until such time that the link road can be completed. These proposals will be funded by the Growth Fund secured from Government by the LEP for improvements to the town centre to help deliver planned housing and jobs growth.
'We are and will continue to work closely with the Town Council and local stakeholders to understand their concerns as the work to develop proposals for the town progresses. A planning application for the growth proposals has yet to be submitted by the developer to Breckland Council. 'There will be consultation on the development proposals once the application is lodged and Breckland can advise on the nature of this.'
The chairman's report from the meeting
The decision to call an Extraordinary Meeting of the Town Council was a discussion which has not been made lightly and has been brought about by the Councillors who currently feel frustrated regarding a number of Highways issues around the Town. We feel that these issues have been brought to the attention of NCC & BDC, in some cases for a number of years, however the views of the Town Councillors and public who live in the Town are being ignored.
I have listed below the 7 main Highways issues that we as a Town Council would like to be considered / discussed at this meeting. I appreciate that Highways is an emotive issue and that you cannot please all the people all the time however having lived in the Town myself for approaching 30 years can only see the traffic problems in the Town worsening. In this time the Town has grown enormously and another 4,000 homes + are planned to be built in the next 20 years. Those living in the Town know that there has been virtually no Highways improvement since the A11 bypass has been built to accommodate this increased traffic.
1/ Proposed Town Centre Highways Improvements : As seen from recent roadworks on the gyratory system the current 1 way system is extremely fragile. As a concept I believe Traffic should be pushed away from the gyratory system wherever possible. The proposed improvements in the main consist of traffic lights at the major junctions and 2 way traffic along Surrogate Street. Will this improve the flow of traffic ? Is this a sticking plaster only ? Can the £ be better spent improving the main arteries around the Town?
2/ Proposed link road from Old Buckenham Road to London Road. This needs to be built before the 1st new 1, 200 houses on the SUE are completed, as proposed at present, and all avenues should be pursued for the financing this. Can the Town Centre cope with this increase in traffic ? Should the new houses start being built 1st at the London Road end ?
3/ With the proposed SUE South of the railway line where the vast bulk of the new 4,000 houses are being built there is still planned just 1 major road crossing in the Town. This will effectively split the Town in half. The Station Road crossing gates are Currently closed Cica 80 times a day causing traffic to build up - can either a road Bridge be built across the railway or have another road crossing?
4/ Attleborough needs the Besthorpe End A11 junction to be a 4 way junction arrangement rather than the current 2 way junction. This will allow traffic to enter and exit from both London and Norwich routes rather than just the Norwich route as at present. This junction improvement was promised 9 years ago when the Town was looking to expand.
5/ The Town Council has lobbied for a number of years including again during late 2016 for a 7.5 tonne weight restriction be placed through the Town Centre from Connaught Plain along Exchange Street. This would prevent lorries turning right from Connaught Road and therefore making them use the A11. This would ease traffic congestion and also help make the Town Centre safer for pedestrians. Our latest request was declined due to the road being classified as a B road.
6/ Carvers Lane is a good through road running North to South within the Town. This road is to be closed to through traffic by a housing development. The TC again have lobbied for this to remain open for approximately 6 years and residents have obtained petitions against this closure. This road is used by locals will be particularly used when the new schools are opened. The existing houses will now be serviced via existing estate cult de sacs. can this road remain opened ?
7/ Planning permission has been passed for a new circa 170 houses on the former Suffolk Sovereign site on Buckenham Road. Could White House Lane, which is currently a 'Green field site', be upgraded to allow 2 way traffic . This road would effectively be part of a Northern Bypass for the Town and reduce traffic coming into the Town.
In summary the Town Council has concerns how the current proposed Town Centre Highways Improvements will work and is putting forward some proposals to reduce traffic within the gyratory system.