BURTON’S motorists will be forced into ‘gridlock’ before changes are made to the highways network, according to a councillor in the town.
Traffic will come to a standstill as a result of the huge amount of development in the area, Councillor Ron Clarke predicted, and it will be only then that highways officers will look at making alterations to roads in the town.
The grim tiding was made at the latest meeting of Stretton Parish Council, as a member of the public accused planning authorities of ‘having no vision’ for the growth of the town’.
Councillor Clarke, who represents the Burton division for Staffordshire County Council, said: “Burton will have to come to gridlock before county council highways will do anything, because of the money. If 13,000 properties are built over an 18-year period, you won’t need speed guns to slow people down, because you’ll be walking more quickly than the cars are going.”
Traffic worries have been a common theme running through objections to major developments in the area, with many people worried the town’s already-congested roads will become unbearable with the increase in traffic the new estates are expected to generate.
But highways chiefs at the county council have repeatedly said the roads are capable of dealing with the change, and that their advice is within national guidelines.
Planners at East Staffordshire Borough Council have been told they must approve enough development to meet a 13,000-home target within the next 18 years. The ruling has led to the approval of several unpopular plans, including a 660-home development on land south of Branston and a 2,500-home ‘new community’ at Branston Locks. Campaigners have said both plans will cause danger and traffic chaos.
Those opposing the development in Branston said there were ‘risks’ with putting yet more traffic on roads which already struggle to cope. The same has been said in other places.
Councillor Simon Tagg, of Staffordshire County Council, said: “We want to see an effective road network in Burton and an overarching transport plan for the town has been developed which will take us up to 2031. All significant development proposals in Burton have been assessed using a strategic traffic model to ensure that there are appropriate plans for roads.
“Appropriate mitigation measures that are consistent with the overarching transport plan are determined for individual development proposals.
“Going forward, all developments will be determined in line with the Local Plan, once it is formally adopted later this year.”