The full York’s Bridge Consultation 2019 Summary of Results report is available to read here.
The following provides some feedback on the main issues raised in the consultation and some clarification on particular aspects of the proposed scheme:
- The vast majority of respondents support the proposals for the York’s Bridge replacement scheme, stating that the new bridge will bring great benefit in terms of safety and ease traffic flow along the route.
- Suggestions from the consultation included that the new bridge could be moved or rebuilt at the location of the existing bridge. The existing bridge has poor horizontal and vertical alignments, substandard gradients on the approaches and a carriageway that is not fully aligned with the approach roads resulting in poor forward visibility. There are no footways or verges, the highway narrows considerably and due to the required weight limit being unachievable, strengthening of the existing bridge was rejected as an option. Due to the constraints of the site and the current highway alignment, the location of the proposed bridge cannot be changed.
- Concerns were raised about noise, air-pollution, the environmental impact and proposed maintenance of the area. Assessments will be carried out to determine whether air pollution and the impact of noise falls within recommended levels.
- Ecological assessments including habitat surveys have been carried out on the area of common land to be deregistered, which has currently identified various flora and fauna, some of which requires translocation or replacement. This land is difficult to access and is of limited recreational use as a result. Much of the land is covered by dense undergrowth with self-seeded shrubs and trees making walking in the area very difficult. A full set of reports will be submitted to the planning authority to ensure the protection of wildlife in this location by enhancing the environmental habitat with measures such as new reed beds, a settlement pond, a new woodland area and wildflower seeding, which will also improve the area ecologically and aesthetically.
- The potential for additional HGV traffic along the route was frequently raised. There were worries about the impact additional traffic would have at the Fingerpost Junction and through Pelsall Village. Traffic assessments will be carried out in the area and the potential is available to adjust the traffic signal phasing at the junction without any land take.
- Concerns about speeding traffic along Norton Road will be addressed by the introduction of a new 30mph speed limit from the Staffordshire County boundary to the Fingerpost Junction.
- There are currently no parking facilities available on the eastern side of the common and the council proposes to provide six parking spaces to the south-west of the canal crossing. The lack of parking facilities was highlighted during the consultation process and the council consider that it will encourage public access in this area.
- To offset the loss of the area of common at York’s Bridge that will be deregistered, the council proposes to replace it with a larger area of land at High Bridges. This council-owned replacement land is currently densely vegetated with mixed deciduous trees and is largely inaccessible. The intention is to clear the land of vegetation, converting the area to mainly scrub habitat and grassland. Footpaths, tracks, areas of planting, and as suggested in the consultation, benches, litterbins and dog waste bins will all be provided throughout. There is an intention to provide a small car park immediately adjacent to the proposed area of common land.
- A number of respondents suggested using Moat Farm Pool as an area of exchange land to help protect it from being developed. This was included in the previous deregistration application submitted to the Secretary of State. The application was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate, partly due to Moat Farm Pool being classified as public open space land, which already precludes it from being built upon.
In the next few weeks, a planning application will be submitted to the council’s planning committee. If approved, the council will then be required to make a formal application to the Secretary of State to deregister the portion of common land needed to build the bridge. Assuming this is approved, the council will then commence a procurement process to appoint a contractor to carry out the construction work for the new bridge near the end of year 2020.