Compulsory purchase order challenges delay for A120 bypass plan
Landowners have put the brakes on plans for the £30m A120 bypass from Bishop's Stortford.
The Department of Transport has told Herts County Council that it has received objections to both the compulsory purchase and side roads orders necessary to construct the 3.9km (2.4 miles) relief route for Little Hadham.
The Secretary of State Chris Grayling has warned the highways authority that before he can confirm or deny the orders, public local inquiries will be required to allow the objectors to put their case.
Negotiations are continuing between the county council and the objectors to see if their concerns can be resolved before the hearings, but otherwise Mr Grayling has warned Herts that if a public inquiry is required, it is likely to be held for a period of a week between February and May 2018, however, this date will be dependent on the availability of an inspector to hear the case.
Herts had planned to award the construction contract early next year after winning planning permission for the scheme in January this year. Construction is set to begin in 2019 and finish in 2020.
The majority of funding will come from the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) which has been granted around £27.4m, The Environment Agency will be contributing towards a flood alleviation scheme for Little Hadham which is being incorporated into the project.
The proposals are for a single-carriageway, northern bypass of the A120, along the boundary of Albury parish, and drainage work to protect 72 homes, comprising a new 9.3m (30ft) wide single carriageway road, verges, roundabout junctions, bridges, embankments, landscaping and associated engineering over a total of 40.5 hectares.
Herts County Cllr Colin Woodward, who is also Bishop’s Stortford’s mayor and a member of both the town and East Herts district councils, said the scheme lacked ambition: “I’ve always said I understand that the funding from the LEP to do something in the east of the county has been very limited to date and appreciate the long-standing desire for the bonus of flood alleviation and a bypass. But it should be a strategic link, not what is on offer here.”
Hadham Road homes within his constituency are affected by the development and he said: “It starts by my very last two cottages, Plantings Cottages, who will have a roundabout right in front of them. I think my views align with the two landowners – David Harvey and Peter James.
“Essex are planning upgrades and their part of the A120 is already dual carriageway, this is a single from the start! We already know the long tailbacks on the current single section – I see it almost daily.”
The scheme to ease congestion and improve journey times includes new roundabouts to link the proposed bypass to the existing A120 - between Hadham Park and Hadham Lodge in the east, and between The Ash and Albury End Road junction in the west.
Data was collected specifically for the project in 2013 and 2014. The traffic for the scheme was assessed using a computer-generated model, covering the area around Harlow and Bishop’s Stortford, up to the M25, M11, A10 and A505 and also includes the area around Stansted Airport. The model includes projected traffic growth in the future using planning data from Hertfordshire, Uttlesford and Harlow.
In 2006, Herts County Council decided to focus on two separate local bypasses and Little Hadham was prioritised first. It was agreed to look at the options for Standon and Puckeridge once the Little Hadham bypass has been delivered.
Meanwhile, Essex has secured more than £9m to tackle congestion and improve routes on the border with Bishop’s Stortford. As part of the project, Mr Grayling has promised £4.09m towards a £10m scheme to upgrade Junction 8 on the M11.