Farnham isolated by road closure and flooded diversion route: village school shut and elderly left waiting for carers
A "forgotten village" on the outskirts of Bishop's Stortford is enduring endless disruption as it bears the brunt of large-scale developments enveloping it.
In the space of a week, residents in Farnham were cut off by road closures and flooding.
Farnham Primary School was forced to close on Wednesday January 15 and elderly residents were left waiting for carers to get through as motorists were unable to get in or out of the village.
Resident Lisa Wilkins, of Farnham Green, described the past few years since work began on building Stortford North as "a nightmare".
"It's been like this for three years. They keep closing the road and reopening it instead of making a plan to get it all done," she said. "We've never been consulted. The week before last the road was shut with no notice, not even a sign, to lay Tarmac for the new houses.
"Herts and Essex county councils need to talk to each other, but no-one wants to take responsibility. The diversions they set up aren't suitable. I've had two flat tyres because we're going on roads that aren't suitable for that amount of traffic.
"The [village] school was shut and school transport for Birchwood, where my son goes, couldn't get into the village so he missed school that day. I ended up driving down some track to get my other son to Stansted Airport College for an exam – cars just couldn't get in or out."
She added: "It's just ongoing. We're calling ourselves the forgotten village, which is a bit of a joke, but it's how we all feel."
The situation escalated last week following closure of a section of Farnham Road to allow Affinity Water to carry out work associated with construction of new homes at the St Michael's Hurst development near Rye Street.
Villagers were furious about the 'ill thought out' diversion route via a single-track lane from Hazel End that passes through a ford.
Even when the water subsided, the road caused problems with lorries and cars getting stuck on the muddy verges.
Parish council clerk Peter Jarman said villagers had had enough. "We just get the feeling that the people planning these developments don't really know that Farnham exists," he said.
"They treat Farnham Road as a country lane that doesn't really go anywhere and it's very frustrating. Farnham Road is being cut off and closed almost every couple of weeks and no-one talks to us about the best diversion route.
"The ford floods and traps everyone in – there were a lot of angry people in the village last week."
He said the problem was compounded because Farnham is on the border of Herts and Essex and neither county council seemed willing to take responsibility.
However, pressure from the village's Essex county councillor, Ray Gooding, may have helped to speed up contractors' work and the road was reopened ahead of schedule on Tuesday (Jan 21).
Cllr Gooding said: "This is a very unfortunate problem that Farnham is facing and it appears to be driven by a number of statutory service providers, the significant development around the village and the difficulty that Farnham faces by being an Essex village landlocked by Hertfordshire.
"I can confirm that the current applications for closures have been made by Affinity Water and Hertfordshire. The difficulty is that the only possible diversions are via a very narrow Essex lane that has a ford that often floods at this time of year.
"I have asked that where a diversion is routed through the road that may be flooded, the agency carrying out the closure suspend their works when the river is in flood. However, this is difficult to impose, given the divided responsibility, and I have asked the Essex officers to make this a prerequisite condition of any future closures being granted."