Proposed "A46 Strategic Link Road"

AKA The "Link Road to Nowhere"

In December 2020 the consultation process began on the A46 "Link Road" which is proposed to join Westwood Heath Road with the A46, principally to improve the access to the University of Warwick and also crucially to augment capacity on the road network by using the local road network (including Westwood Heath Road) to alleviate pressure on the A45.

The key issue for Westwood Heath will be "significant" increased traffic volumes on Westwood Heath Road and Cromwell Lane and also increases on other local roads.

There are significant concerns about the proposals:

  • Timing.  The post-Covid19 world is likely to generate sustained changes in working practices:  remote working, hybrid home/office working and staggered commute times.  Now is not the right time to be planning for a significant investment of public money based on a legacy way of working - this needs to be analysed and understood first

  • The "Link Road" concept has eroded over the last three years from being a strategic link between the A46 and A45 (or A452) to being a short bypass for the University of Warwick.  The case for the link road is very weak unless it links to the Strategic Road Network

  • The consultation document shows that it is expected to increase traffic volumes considerably between the A45 and the link road - witness the requirement to upgrade junctions at six locations including Broad Lane and others.  This is going to take major trunk road traffic and place it on the Local Road Network.  

  • The routing of increased traffic through the local road network will create worse Air Quality issues across a number of residential areas at a time when Coventry City Council is under pressure to improve Air Quality

  • The proposals do not look at the option of routing around the western boundary of the campus and linking directly to the Kirby Corner roundabout.

You can explore the consultation documents here and can also request that they be sent hardcopy (this is a useful option since they are difficult to read online).

There is an online consultation survey page which includes links to scheduled video broadcasts and a recording of the initial broadcast from December 2020.  If you're going to fill out the survey online, we recommend that you look at the survey questions beforehand so you know what to expect and can draft answers.   There is a copy here.

You can also email comments and questions to a46linkroad@warwickshire.gov.uk or call 01926 418029.  The consultation is open until 14th February 2021.

We strongly urge you to review the consultation documents and our presentation on the scheme.

We believe that the consultation material does not make the extent of proposal very clear, so have updated the map to show a more comprehensive impact of the road.

WHRA analysis of the consultation document is underway and our initial comments follow.  Also see the visual presentation we have created here.

We have submitted our final response from WHRA and also include a sample response from a resident.

Destruction of the Green Belt

  • Once destroyed the Green Belt is gone forever

  • Exceptional circumstances need to be demonstrated for this to be allowed

  • It will inevitably result in further encroachment in the void between the HS2 line, link road and as yet undeveloped space.

Timing of the consultation and decision making

  • Post-pandemic work practices may make a step change in traffic patterns

    • Home-working, hybrid home/office working and shifts in commuting times are likely to have a one-off step change

      • What research has been done to understand this?

      • We do not currently see the pre-Cov19 queues on Westwood Heath Road or Gibbet Hill Road despite “the overall local traffic network being at 90% of pre-Covid19 capacity” (John Seddon, CCC)

    • Warwick University (Dec 2020): “Covid has affected many of the University’s future plans with reviews scheduled for the coming months”

  • In December 2020 the UK Statistics Authority began a review of methods and data that underpin the population projections due to “perceived inaccuracies of the population estimates on which the household projections and subsequent housing need are based”.  This could have material impact on both CCC and WDC Local Plans and any substantive decisions based on those plans should be held over until the review is complete.

Basis of the Business Case

  • Elements of the business case in the WCC Cabinet Paper have changed or are not met:

    • Westwood Business Park is shrinking, not growing

      • Two large employment sites have been replaced by student accommodation blocks (1,100 rooms)

      • One large employment block vacated and used as a research centre for the UoW

      • Pre-Covid19 queuing in and out of the business park was significantly reduced by YE 2019.

    • The NAIC has a lower occupancy than forecast (Source: UoW meeting March 2020)

    • The WCC document from 2016 and released under FOI in 2018 specifically stated that the “business case (would be) challenging without the context of Phase 3” (the formerly planned link to the A45 or A452)

    • Kings Hill:  As the S106 agreement has not yet been concluded, the planning permission has not formally been granted.

    • WCC Cabinet paper includes Cromwell Lane as a road where “rat-running” should be reduced – but a written answer to a consultation question states that traffic of Cromwell Lane and Westwood Heath Road will increase.

      • Indeed, other roads in the area also see increases in traffic

    • There is substantial reference to University of Warwick “aspirational growth”

      • The area marked on the map in the consultation document was for development in the 2009-2019 UoW Masterplan, and was built on with accommodation blocks.

      • The Hybrid Plan from circa 2018 contained nine capital projects which were largely to replace or enhance existing buildings; the plan was specifically not for growth

      • The addition of 1030 parking spaces in the Hybrid Plan was justified by saying it would remove overspill parking on local roads – again, not growth

      • There is no current published UoW Masterplan on which to base decisions

      • The UoW website states that a Masterplan is under preparation through to 2030 and will be agreed “after extensive consultation”.  Since that consultation has not yet taken place, how can “aspirations” be used to justify the link road?

 

Conduct of the consultation

  • Lack of leaflet distribution

    • Despite requests, some areas (e.g. Broad Lane) that would be impacted have not been leafleted

    • We acknowledge that leaflet drops were eventually done elsewhere (after prompting) but arrived days before Christmas, and after the first online broadcast had taken place

  • Misleading initial leaflet

    • No plan of the proposed route given – not attention grabbing.  Yet the Coventry South rail station is shown despite being in very early stages of planning

  • Difficult to read consultation document

    • Design for online use, but has columns of small vertical text

  • Misleading consultation material

    • Heavy bias towards “Option 3”

    • Major issue of Gibbet Hill closure secreted away as a sub-option

      • Ditto for Stoneleigh Road

    • Proposal for a dual carriageway hidden away in the text, not at all obvious

    • UoW “Aspirational Growth” area has already been built on

    • Much reference is made to the “A46 corridor” but the new employment areas lie to the south of this

Shifting of traffic from the Strategic Road Network to the local road network

  • Business case is fuzzy and confused around this – road is needed for extra capacity but it doesn’t link to anywhere so the local road network will pick up the extra volume

    • Clue is that six junction improvements are proposed to help the flow

  • Many of the roads where traffic is to be shifted too are not suitable for volume increases, e.g.

    • Westwood Heath Road – over sixty driveways, ten side roads and ten commercial premises over a short distance

      • Will increase if/when the Crest Nicholson development is built

      • Pedestrian crossings will be needed to access the proposed cycle ways and paths

    • Cromwell Lane – similar concentration of driveways and entrances; narrow bridge on the south side

    • Banner Lane and Broad Lane were already very busy pre-Covid-19

    • Many other local roads are similar

  • Westwood Heath Road is itself a rat run already

    • On the last council-run traffic study (Approx 2016), traffic was measured in excess of 70mph

    • If the long term plan comes to fruition, there will be housing the entire length of Westwood Heath Road and a considerably poorer Air Quality in a residential area

  • Closure of Gibbet Hill Road would increase rat-running

  • E.g. Cannon Hill Road

 

Destruction of Green Belt

  • The proposed scheme would further erode the narrow band of Green Belt between Kenilworth and Coventry

 

Air Quality

  • WDC have declared a ‘climate emergency’ with a plan to be Carbon Neutral across Warwick District by 2030 – how is this supported?
    https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/news/article/297/warwick_district_council_declares_a_climate_emergency

  • Similar question for Coventry City Council

  • The answer suggests that air quality will be improved because the traffic is moving faster (!?)

  • Proposal moves and increases the problem, doesn’t solve it

  • Why plan to run a cycle way and walkway alongside a major road?

 

(Traffic) Modelling Assessment

  • Analysis is underway 

  • "Significant" increase in traffic on Westwood Heath Road (increase by circa 60% over time) , Cromwell Lane, Pickford Green Lane  

  • Cromwell Lane junction will suffer increased delays despite mitigation (mini roundabout)

© 2021 by Westwood Heath Residents Association

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