THE COUNCIL’S housing developments will make ‘diabolical’ traffic north of the city even worse, an Independent councillor says.
Merle Gering – a passionate environmental campaigner – will be running in the local elections on May 3 for Sherbourne ward.
Mr Gering feels the public has been misled during consultations about how Local Plan developments will affect traffic in the Coventry North West area.
The Local Plan was adopted by Coventry City Council in December and outlined a need for 42,400 homes in the area by 2031.
He says residents in the North West were previously told these new developments would not have a ‘significant impact’ on already disruptive traffic.
But Mr Gering fears the evidence shows planned developments around Keresley combined with HS2 construction will significantly affect traffic volumes and travel time.
He is also concerned about the increasing impact of air pollution created by congestion.
Coventry council has said residents were made aware of ‘potential impacts’ and it will ‘improve and enhance infrastructure’ to accommodate developments.
A council Connecting Coventry report from March states ‘road capacity improvements’ will be completed in the north west of the city and on the A444 and M6 junction 3 – the disputed Coventry North area.
Mr Gering claimed the council said average journey times, after planned housing development, would only increase by seven seconds.
But Mr Gering says this increase on journey time does not consider the 18,000 homes overspill into Warwick, Rugby and Nuneaton areas – nor did it take into account the traffic impact of constructing the new HS2 station and interchange at Birmingham International.
He says during public meetings and in council documentation from December 2016, residents repeatedly heard proposals for the Keresley area would only cause a ‘slight increase’ in network delays and traffic.
The report predicted a journey time increase for those travelling into the city from the Keresley development area of under five per cent and for Eastern Green, an increase of nine per cent.
But in March this year, Colin Knight director of transportation and highways said: “The north western side of the city suffers from significant congestion as a result of a road network that was never designed to accommodate current levels of demand.
“Potential future housing and employment growth in this part of the city will be hindered or create unacceptable impacts to local access without a long term solution to increase the capacity of the road network between the A4114 Holyhead Road corridor in the west and the A444 Jimmy Hill Way corridor in the north.”
Mr Gering claims residents in the North West areas signposted for future developments were not made aware of these ‘unacceptable impacts’.
Mr Gering said: “Plans for thousands of new houses on green belt around Coventry will have a devastating impact on both pollution and traffic. Motorists already experience slow frustrating commutes to work – at rush hour I can get to the city centre faster by push bike than the cars can.
“The Holyhead and Allesley Old Roads already have bottlenecks during peak times and the A45 is the same – and it’s going to get worse.
“The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Plans have not been coordinated to assess the combined impact of massive house building and HS2 construction, which will give us at least 10 years of traffic hell.
“The roads need to be in place before house building and HS2 construction work begins.”
The council did not comment on whether plans for development took into account overspill and HS2 construction.
Nor did it provide figures for the latest predicted increase for journey times in the North West area.
A Coventry council spokesperson said: “The approval of the Local Plan followed an extensive period of public engagement and independent public examination. As part of that process the council was required to undertake additional work around projected housing needs and the highways implications of development proposals including those in the north west of the city.
“This work sought to understand the potential impacts of development on the city’s roads using a worst case scenario.
“It also factored in a range of infrastructure projects.
“All information was shared with local residents and other stakeholders and is widely available on our website as part of evidence base.
“The Connecting Coventry report builds on the proposals and requirements of the Local Plan to support the delivery of improved and enhanced infrastructure across Coventry – especially within the north west corner.”