As reported separately, (see Hertfordshire’s Local Transport Plan) the WPAG has been working on the draft County Local Transport Plan with the Welwyn Parish Council Planning & Licensing Committee. The following is a copy of the separate Submission to County made by the WPAG which results from this work.
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The Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group wishes to make the following comments on the Draft Local Transport Plan on behalf of Welwyn residents:
- Although the Welwyn Parish has a diverse population, there are a large number of elderly/older residents, many of whom are not fully mobile. There is a dependency on the car as a mode of transport for those who are able to drive.
- Likewise, schools in rural communities are not always within walking distance of homes, nor are the homes served by bus routes that provide an adequate service to meet the needs of parents and residents.
- We have considerable reservations about policy 4, page 51. Assumptions are made that car usage can be reduced by introducing parking restrictions. This is all well and good for areas where the public transport system is fit for purpose; sadly in our Parish it is not, especially outside working hours and at weekends. There is no direct transport link from the village to the nearest train station. The one, extremely popular, bus route to London was withdrawn three years ago. Cuts from County Council subsidies have resulted in cuts to bus timetables. This leaves residents with no option other than the car. We have a Catch 22 situation.
- In addition, a policy that restricts parking in town centres and high streets will eventually kill off the small businesses altogether. The reason that the big supermarkets are successful is because there is parking and people don’t have to struggle on buses with heavy shopping or walk long distances from bus stops. What is needed is a policy that does not discourage the use of local shops and we are strongly opposed to any increase in parking restrictions or charges.
- The A1(M) has a junction leading directly into Welwyn village. This becomes a rat-run during rush hours for vehicles trying to overtake the congestion on that section of the motorway by cutting through the village and rejoining the A1(M) at the next junction. The result is total congestion during peak times and a risk of danger to pedestrians using the narrow High Street pavements.
- The consistent requests to Highways from Parish, Borough and County councillors for a trial traffic lights scheme during peak times have not been granted. This issue is a continuing bone of contention for residents and we fail to understand the reasoning behind not at least running a trial.
- The proposed “smart” motorway will not, in our opinion, provide a solution to or alleviate this problem. In particular, there is major congestion during peak periods in all directions from the junction 6 northbound slip road, known locally as “The Clock” roundabout. This blocks the B197 as far as Woolmer Green, the A1000 through to Digswell and the B656 as far as Codicote. Residents report that it takes longer to reach the motorway than it does to drive to London once they have joined it. A journey that should take 5 or 10 minutes can easily be 30 minutes or more.
- The situation will worsen as more new builds emerge, on the edge of the Parish and in adjacent villages, with increased traffic all using the same routes to reach the Al(M). There is insufficient infrastructure to support all the local plan building projects along the A1(M) corridor and the eventual increase in traffic will exacerbate what is already a major daily issue for local residents. The Welwyn Planning and Amenity Group find the fact that this issue has not been given proper consideration to be unacceptable.
- The WPAG supports the proposed development of runways at Luton and Stansted. Anything that will provide increased facilities to the local area, reducing the need for long journeys by car to other airports, can only be beneficial to the community.
- Another issue that has caused concern is the frequent use of rural roads by heavy vehicles that access quarries. Although conditions were set that this should not happen, there seems to be no enforcement of the agreement. In particular, large lorries servicing the quarry at Codicote, are using the B656. This is a narrow road, with very narrow pavements and such vehicles cause both danger, noise, inconvenience and pollution to residents.
- Lastly, we would raise the issue of the East-West connectivity. This is virtually non-existent and a major improvement in public transport for this corridor is long overdue.
- The DTLP is, by its very nature, forced to make generalisations. However, it must be taken into account that rural concerns are very different to those of more developed areas. The differences in local transport links and facilities, together with the ability to reach nearby shopping areas and hospitals, are immense.
- The lives of ordinary people are drastically affected by decisions taken by those who have no concept of the transport and commuting problems they are forced to cope with on a daily basis. Understandably, the decision-makers do not know specific areas and do not personally experience the issues raised. That is why it is vitally important that credence is given to points raised by representatives of local communities who have on-site experience.
PROJECT MANAGER, WELWYN PLANNING AND AMENITY GROUP
Tel : 07802 725423