‘FLAWED’ relief road plans have put the town on a ‘knife edge’ say residents.
Warwickshire County Council (WCC) has agreed to put forward a government funding bid for an extra £86million towards the £130million cost of the controversial South Western Relief Road (SWRR) despite ‘grave’ concerns from councillors and residents.
The two-mile road, planned to run from near Orchard Hill Farm on Shipston Road, to Luddington Road close to the racecourse, was originally costed at just £30million.
It aims to alleviate traffic created by new housing developments, including the Long Marston Airfield Garden Village scheme of 3,100 homes.
A WCC spokesperson confirmed the remaining £44million funding would be provided by the garden village developer Cala Homes which so far has been given the go ahead for the first 400 homes on the site.
But to complete the housing development and road, county planning chiefs say they would need the government cash, which will be assessed by funding body Homes England.
Both the road and garden village are included in Stratford District Council’s core strategy which will shape the future of the district until 2031.
But residents fear the plans, which include a flyover across the Greenway and the River Avon, would be an eyesore, noisy, and could cause flooding.
Marion Homer, chair of campaign group Stratford Residents Action Group (SRAG), said: “We’ve been sold the idea that the new development at Long Marston will be a ‘Garden Village’ and bring benefits to the local community – there is no evidence it will, it doesn’t even provide affordable houses for local residents.
“It’s very clear that councillors are concerned that any objection to the SWRR means a rejection of the local plan which in turn means the whole district is at the mercy of speculative development.
“We are on knife edge – now is the time we need to be demanding our councillors and our MP to be brave and realise what is at risk – the blight of all Stratford if they do not recognise their mistakes. This road as currently planned is wrong and this inherent flaw will become evident at some point – far better that the nettle is grasped now, before Cala destroys the water meadows forever and our traffic congestion becomes even worse.”
Despite news of the bid, she added it was ‘heartening’ to see ‘grave’ concerns expressed by councillors at a recent WCC meeting.
Stratford councillor Jenny Fradgely called the consultation on the plans ‘a sterile exercise’ in which the public was not given a say.
She said: “The option was really take what’s offered now or threat of houses on a greenfield site.
“I cant accept that the Cala solution is the best available.
“Both route and excessive engineering of a road this height and little opportunity to live at the noise pollution or visibility in this very sensitive area, is not and cannot be the solution.
“Possible flooding of a road every 25 years or so might be a price to pay for a road that is more acceptable.
“If this solution isn’t accepted developers will ravage Stratford with speculative building and with no infrastructure as it has done in the past.
“We are planning for our long term future. We mustn’t spend eye watering amounts of public money at a time of still austerity on a structure that could have better options.”
A decision on the bid is expected in summer.