Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Works at Bedford Road - Why So Long For 'So Little Work'? - A Statement from CBC


Following local residents complaints that works on Bedford Road took practically 2 months to be carried out, and very little seemed to have been achieved during the closure of the road during that time, HRND wrote to CBC in search of an official explanation.

The complaints on Facebook included,
"Questions should be asked.they built the houses there quicker than this.If i worked that slow i would be sacked"
"All that time for one roundabout and a zebra crossing"
"5 to 6 weeks to do that 200 yard aspect of road they should be ashamed"

Essentially, in response, Central Bedfordshire Council state that multi-agency works were carried out during the closure period, saving drivers the inconvenience of several separate road closures at different times and that 60 days additional works have been saved during this closure.

THE FULL STATEMENT

As part of the wider regeneration in the Central Bedfordshire region, CBC has given planning permission to developers to building close to 7,500 homes in the Houghton Regis area. A lot of these homes will be situated in the area around the Houghton Regis and straddle the new A5-M1 link when this is completed. All of these will help Houghton Regis in realising its growth agenda of becoming a very large town in the United Kingdom. To facilitate these developments, roads will need to be closed where they impact on the safe movement of vehicles or pedestrians on the public highway.

As is widely known Taylor Wimpey is currently building a housing development on Bedford Road in Houghton Regis to facilitate this growth. Around 200 high quality homes will be built on this former green site. In order to accommodate these homes and satisfy the planning conditions Bedford Road would need to have traffic calming measures put in place. These will include the reduction of the road speed, the introduction of a weight ban, the introduction of safer crossing points for pedestrians and the reclassification of the road

So the challenges facing this development are the following

·         The necessity to make these homes speedily available to waiting local buyers
·         The traffic calming measures being required before the allocation of homes.
·         The traffic calming measure being in place before the A5-M1 link opening.
·         The road width necessitating the requirement for a road closure to safely carry out the works.
·         The time pressure to work within normal working hours as this site is near existing housing.
·         Provide local access to properties and businesses within or near the closure
·         Provide a safe pedestrian walkway around an ever changing worksite
·         Prevent vehicles illegally mounting the available footways endangering pedestrians

The nature of the works (deep drainage, installation of a roundabout for the new development and kerb realignment) means that the road cannot be kept open until works are complete. Therefore just night time closures are not possible (and would lead to environmental complaints due to adjacent properties). ECL the contractor agreed to take a week off their program to facilitate extra essential works happening elsewhere on the CBC network. The road was opened and no work was carried out during the school half term holiday in October. Where a road is closed, a diversion route of is required to safely accommodate the dispersed traffic. This route can be of the same or higher category as the road closed.

We also took the opportunity to schedule the following whilst the road was closed.

•             Energetix Gas Plc have laid 300mtrs of gas mains to supply the Persimmon Development site
•             Affinity Water is laying 250mtrs of new water mains to supply the Persimmon site
•             The gullies along Bedford Rd have been looked at and cleaned
•             Anglian Water worked on 2 manholes that were breaking up due to heavy traffic movements
•             UKPN have upgraded their network cables and poles to feed the new Persimmon site
•             BT has carried out upgrades to their old and deteriorating ductwork on Bedford Rd.

Statutory Undertakers have a legal entitlement to carry out works in the public highway in order to provide services to the public. By using this road closure to accommodate all these additional works a considerable amount of days work on Bedford Road. In the region of 60 days additional works have been saved during this closure. These additional works could have necessitated the requirement for additional traffic lights or possibly road closures.

When a road is closed a Temporary Traffic Order is produced. This traffic order is circulated to all interested parties i.e. buses, emergency services and local councillors. Prior to that letters are sent to all the local premises and businesses and also additional letters are sent to nearby Education facilities in the area to inform of the upcoming. Advance Warning signs of the closure are put out the road advising of passing motorists of the closure. For this particular development consultation by the Developer was carried out with the local residents and businesses.