Honingham Parish Council Response to A47 Draft Proposal

Below is our response to the Draft proposal; a big thank you to all who contributed their views…..you will note there is a bit of plagiarism!

 

Response to Draft Proposal of the A47 dualling – Honingham section

Meeting at Honingham Parish Council 11.09.17

 

Thank you for visiting Honingham Parish Council Meeting on the 11th September 2017, held at the Village Hall and explaining the present draft proposal. This gave both the parish Council and members of Honingham (and nearby parishes) opportunity to discuss and question.

 

Our main areas of concern are as follows: The proposal will lead to Honingham becoming a rat run to avoid congested new A47 at peak times, and at other times by HGV’s as a quicker route to the Food Hub; The roundabout at Wood Lane Berry’s Lane will be used as a means to take traffic through to Wymondham and therefore the A11; The bridge at Berry’s Lane is not suitable for an increase in traffic and more especially, HGV traffic; The roundabout at Wood Lane/Berry’s lane will be too busy to give Honingham residents access to the new A47; Too many roundabouts, this will slow traffic down and not improve traffic flow or time – one of your major objectives?; Blind Lane/Taverham Road roundabout will create a rat run to NDR – most unsuitable road; Old A47 to be severed thus restricting its use as a local road network and attracting unwanted illegal encampments; Access to Honingham Church and graveyard for vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians; Possible loss of the only bus that Honingham has and therefore public transport access to the GP surgery at Mattishall; Access to Hall Farm Honingham; Archaeology of proposed area and previous “digs” ; Flash flooding in Honingham; Trustworthiness of Highways England to deliver a proposal that is in the interests of locals rather than business….

We have discussed these matters as a Council, and we have invited response from Honingham parishioners – 19 of whom responded. The above points are expanded as follows:

 

  1. Honingham becoming a rat run. Looking at the map there is still a quite convenient short-cut from Blind Lane, the Honingham roundabout, Mattishall Road, Norwich Road, The Street, and Dereham Road to avoid accidents or hold ups on the A47: Honingham is frequently used at present whenever the A47 is blocked. It needs to be noted that traffic lights had to be added to the existing Honingham roundabout because of motorists’ propensity to rat run through a tranquil village to avoid waiting on the A47. Before the traffic lights were added the traffic at peak times was so bad it was difficult to get out of driveways and onto the road and impossible to cross the road safely as any 30mph signs were ignored. Cars parked on the road in the village meant that traffic often backed up and became stationary – a worry for any emergency vehicles as it would be impossible to get through the village. If, as suggested by many at our meeting on 11th , and emails, flyovers were used this should not be an issue for Honingham – the alternative is “access only” signs to village, but we have no faith that these would be adhered to. Possibly leaving the current A47 open rather than severing it would mean it could be used as a rat run – but at least it would spare Honingham. HGV drivers will soon realise that it is a quicker route to the proposed Food Hub via Honingham than the Blind Lane roundabout, a flyover or keeping the old A47 would again prevent this HGV rat run through the village.
  2. The roundabout at Wood Lane Berry’s Lane will be used as a means to take traffic through to Wymondham and therefore the A11: This is linked very much to the NDR and the, at present, lack of knowledge as to its route to the A47 from the Fakenham Road. It is expected, however, that traffic will find its way along the Wood Lane route. You are intending to do a lot of work to improve the junction at Berry’s Lane/Dereham Road, which is either to ensure that traffic has better access to Honingham (a benefit to rat running as above) or, most likely to allow traffic to take the quicker route to Wymondham and the A11 via Berry’s Lane and Barnham Broom roads. Berry’s Lane is a quiet rural road that is only just wide enough to take 2 passing vehicles. At the top of Berry’s Lane is a crossroads with the Mattishall Road and Barnham Broom road, the Mattishall Road traffic having right of way. Unfortunately coming up the hill from the A47 direction there is little to indicate that there is a crossroads and that traffic must give way; it is an accident blackspot. We also have concerns that all traffic from Lenwade, Hockering and the NDR will hit Wood Lane roundabout, and without a flyover junction with slip roads on to the new A47, traffic from the north will never get onto the roundabout at peak times. As someone mentioned at the meeting, before the Honingham roundabout was built there were plans to build a roundabout at Wood Lane…..but this was turned down because (we were told) that you were not allowed to build a roundabout within 1km of another roundabout. Has this guidance changed?
  3. The bridge at Berry’s Lane is not suitable for an increase in traffic and more especially, HGV traffic: This follows on from 2 above. At Berry’s Lane there is a very small bridge over the River Tud which is not suitable for 2 passing vehicles, and we believe not strong enough to take the increased vehicular traffic – especially HGV traffic. This needs to be taken into consideration, and possibly restrict HGV access. However, this may well result in further HGV traffic trying to access the A11 but via Honingham. You may also need to consult concerning wildlife as there is evidence of otters using this area.
  4. The roundabout at Wood Lane/Berry’s lane will be too busy to give Honingham residents’ access to the new A47: we expect this roundabout to be a route/rat run for both the NDR and the A11. With traffic from Honingham, East Tuddenham, Mattishall and Barnham Broom all trying to access this roundabout added to the mix, it is going to be especially busy at peak times – a multi level roundabout and a flyover will be needed to prevent traffic backing up at Wood Lane, Berry’s lane and Dereham Road.
  5. Too many roundabouts, this will slow traffic down and not improve traffic flow or time – one of your major objectives? At the meeting you stated “We are not building a scheme to make the situation worse. We are aiming to improve journey times and will give value for money, improving journey times and average speeds.” We fail to see how the now 2 roundabouts on this one small stretch of new A47 can possibly reduce traffic time, improve flow and journey times. We have had experience of this before with the building of the Honingham roundabout – despite protests this went ahead, and it didn’t work, traffic lights had to be added to the mix. The cost to taxpayers was tremendous but the roundabout was a failure because it has caused nothing but tail backs at peak times along the A47 and the Mattishall Road. Honingham residents trying to get onto the roundabout at Norwich Road, or the Mattishall Road at the crossroads of Colton Road, face a very challenging journey. One of the Honingham residents pointed out to you at the meeting that the traffic jams caused by every roundabout in Norwich will only be replicated on the A47 if there are no flyovers. Please listen to locals and get it right this time!
  6. Blind Lane/Taverham Road roundabout will create a rat run to NDR – most unsuitable road: we now know that Easton roundabout will be closed, as a consequence there will be no access here to Ringland Hills/Ringland. Where will this traffic now go? Obviously the new roundabout at Blind Lane/Taverham road – this will add even more traffic to the Blind Lane and Wood Lane junctions. It will also encourage traffic to use the Taverham Road as a rat run to the NDR – this road is totally unsuitable for heavy traffic use, it is a single track road with passing places, it frequently floods, and at Ringland the bridge is not to be used by HGV’s (does this mean that having followed their sat nav they will either continue over the bridge or make matters worse by returning on the same single track route???) A question was asked at the meeting – has any of the Highways England team driven along Taverham Road? The answer was a resounding “no”. What looks like a road on a map needs to be seen and driven along, clearly this unsuitable road has not been given the attention it deserves. We are concerned that this roundabout can only be justified by the proposed Food Hub’s existence, if this was not to go ahead would there be a need for this roundabout? If this is to be a normal roundabout – no flyover – traffic joining from the south having priority will cause holdups to the east-bound A47 traffic; in fact, just like the old Honingham roundabout, the only way to prevent this would be eventually to admit defeat and put in traffic lights….
  7. ; Old A47 to be severed thus restricting its use as a local road network and attracting unwanted illegal encampments. The original proposal was for the existing A47 to remain in place for use by local traffic and bus services – an excellent idea and one Honingham fully endorsed. However, this latest draft proposal severs the existing A47 in several places which encourages its use by unsuitable vehicles (HGV’s and rat running cars), but, it also invites its use to illegal encampments. At the meeting you suggested any measures to reduce this old roads attractiveness as a “campsite” was down to the local authorities not Highways England, but it is not you that will have to live with this problem. Bollards don’t always work, ways can be found around them, what could be a useful area for cycling riding and walking will attract undue attention. Option 2 was, amongst other things, intended to “minimise community and environmental impacts”: this cannot be fulfilled if the present road is severed at 4 points and attracts undesirable encampments, it cannot be used as a road because it goes nowhere. If it remained intact it would be very useful to local traffic.
  8. Access to Honingham Church and graveyard for vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. This draft proposal has not taken any account of how people get to church. Villagers use the Church for Sunday Services, to tend graves, to attend weddings and funerals. At the moment those walking or cycling to church often take their lives in their hands as they walk or cycle along the Norwich Road to the roundabout, cross the busy A47 at a traffic island, and then walk or cycle along the A47 via a pathway to the church. How are pedestrians going to access the church? Not everyone owns a car, we are an elderly population in Honingham so not everyone drives any more – there certainly isn’t a bus that we could use. So, are you expecting us to walk along the old A47 to the new Blind Lane roundabout, somehow cross this busy dual carriageway and then walk the other side of the A47 back to the church? Even if it were feasible our elderly population would struggle with this. A bridge for pedestrians involving steps would be no good for elderly or cyclists to use, it either requires a slope or even better an underground pass. It still doesn’t address the problem of wedding cars or a hearse getting to the church or grave yard – what facilities will be available for them to use? Until the draft proposal becomes fixed we also have no idea of how the new A47 will impact on our beautiful old church, a dual carriageway crossing its entrance will look awful and take away the peace and serenity that we find in church (despite the present A47 being just outside).
  9. Possible loss of the only bus that Honingham has and therefore public transport access to the GP surgery at Mattishall: At present the majority of Honingham residents use the GP surgery at Mattishall, if people do not drive or are not well enough to drive we use the no 4 bus at the top of Colton Road to get us to and from the surgery and pharmacy. We also use this bus to get into Norwich or Dereham (Honingham does not possess a shop). We are concerned that the no 4 bus may be routed differently to access the A47, or indeed to be dropped altogether, thus Honingham will lose its only bus and access to a GP. We were hoping, if the old A47 was not severed, that we would be able to attract other bus services into the village.
  10. Access to Hall Farm Honingham. We are at a loss to see, on this new draft proposal, how Hall Farm Honingham, and their cottages will access the road network. The new draft proposal shows severance of Hall Drive north of the new A47….we believe this is the only access point they have, the other “access” which comes out at The Lodge is very overgrown and unused.
  11. Archaeology of proposed area and previous “digs”. Has this issue been addressed? We are told by villagers that previous works uncovered possible historic Honingham archaeology in the fields opposite Honingham Church to Blind Lane and beyond.
  12. Flash flooding in Honingham. There have been issues of flash flooding in Honingham previously as the village is quite low lying. One villager has suggested “a drainage system adjacent to the new A47 from the existing culvert above our bowling green is needed to take field water directly to the River Tud. Maybe an 8” tee will keep the bowling green irrigation system topped up and also eliminate any further risk of flash flooding to the village”
  13. Trustworthiness of Highways England to deliver a proposal that is in the interests of locals rather than business…. We have included this item because so many of our villagers have grave concerns regarding Highways England’s true motives. These are some of the comments we have received.

“The whole process of local consultation is an expensive muddle, because the representatives from Highways England are not sufficiently aware of the local traffic and its problems. Proper consultation should include people who know and use the roads regularly.  As a result, much of the meeting was spent explaining the issues to the reps!

The best point about the roundabouts,  was made by Jerry who pointed out the jams caused by every one around Norwich will only be replicated on the A47 if there are no fly-overs.  I would have hoped H.E.  would have been aware of this.

The casual approach to costing I found disconcerting; it appears that H.E. don’t know exactly how much the scheme costs, to within  a £100million. This is a disgraceful approach to using tax-payers’ money!

And the consultation process was further proved meaningless, when Ann Gowing, whose farm and home is right in the path of the proposed route, said at the meeting that she has received no communications from H.E.   We are forced to conclude that the consulting is merely a box-ticking exercise.

We were depressed by the lack of efficiency of  H.E. on every level”

“We are very concerned that HE do not seem to have done any serious research into the levels of traffic already existing nor serious projections for likely future traffic. We would strongly recommend that HE spend some time, preferably on a Friday evening, Monday morning or any Saturday during the Easter or summer holidays to monitor the traffic. We would also strongly request that any analysis or projections are shared with Honingham PC and the wider community. In our view the only appropriate option, if any, is to have a junction set into an embankment with the minor road passing overhead. This solution would also reduce the accompanying noise levels…….It seems clear that HE have not bothered to spend any time considering the consequences of their proposed plan. We believe they should specifically address all concerns on what happens to traffic north of the A47 if the connection to Ringland is severed at Easton….. HE do not address the Northern Distributor Route at all in the proposal. Given that this project is already underway and has limited options for any extensions to the west, including, to our knowledge, connecting at the Easton Roundabout, we believe that HE should specifically address this in their proposal. “

 

“. They (HE) seemed poorly briefed (not knowing about the Easton roundabout) and do not seem to have taken any opportunity to be shown around the area by any local bodies.

 

Do they really not have any idea about the expected route of the Western Link? If they don’t then they should not be running this project. If they do then why can’t they show it?”

 

“I am unconvinced of the openness and transparency of Highways England in view of: A)
HE’s knowledge of the area and not even taking the time to drive to familiarise themselves with the roads/junctions named on his map
B) unwillingness to leave the large scale map for perusal by parishioners.
C) The changes on September 11th to the August 2017 version posted out to local village residents, which detailed proposed junctions.
D) The subsequent email from Tassos ,two days later, changing even this version.
E) The expense of disregarding current roundabouts in favour of new ones, raising the question of vested interest in the food hub proposal…… If key aims for constructing a dual A47 are to save journey time and prevent traffic build up, there needs to be due consideration given to the CPREs report, “the end of the road”. Challenging the road building consensus (March 2017) shows that road widening induces more traffic within a few years, placing greater pressure on local roads. It finds little evidence of economic benefits.”

“Wait until plans for NDR and Food Hub are finalised, get more money and do the job properly giving graded access to the new dual carriageway, leaving the old A47 in place in its entirety.”

 

In conclusion, we believe that more time needs to be spent with local people who know the traffic problems and the roads that are to be affected by the new A47. We are happy to spend more time with you on this matter, to show you around Honingham and our many roads. Honingham is still recovering from the disaster of having the Honingham roundabout built; this is probably why we are more wary than most. We remain unconvinced that this road needs to be built – it certainly does not fulfil the original brief and it appears to cause more problems than it is attempting to solve. As many people have pointed out, too many roundabouts but what is needed are flyovers – without these we will just end up with the same traffic congestion and frustrated motorists using Honingham as a rat run. Is it really necessary to build this before plans for the NDR and the Food Hub are put forward? There does not appear to be any joined up thinking on this, surely A47 NDR and proposed Food Hub need to be looked at together rather than as separate issues?

 

David Bishop

Chairman Honingham Parish Council

On behalf of Honingham PC and the villagers of Honingham

1 Response to Honingham Parish Council Response to A47 Draft Proposal

  1. John Anthony Skipper says:

    Well said. Let us hope they read this and take it seriously.

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