Public inquiry puts the brakes on A120 Little Hadham bypass plans
Plans for a £30m relief road from Bishop's Stortford are idling at a red light after landowners won the right to have their claims against compulsory purchase orders heard at a public inquiry.
Hertfordshire County Council has confirmed that the Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will consider their cases in July this year.
Land affected by the A120 bypass scheme, which includes flood alleviation measures for Little Hadham by the Environment Agency, affects sites owned by the master and fellows of Cambridge University’s Gonville & Caius College, but according to the statement of case, the principal objections come from fellow landowners Robert Barclay, of Cole Green Farm, Brent Pelham; David Harvey, of Wickham Hall, Hadham Road, Bishop’s Stortford and householders Michael Tuttum and Jane Bell, of Hadham Park House, Hadham Road. The East Herts Footpath Society has also raised concerns.
Mr Harvey’s agent says: “There are specific aspects of the design that we object to, namely the introduction of a new roundabout at the eastern end adjacent to Plantings Cottages. We would prefer to have seen the bypass connect with the existing Tesco’s roundabout rather than introduce an additional roundabout in close proximity. We do not think that this makes practical sense.” The farmer owns 1 and 2 Plantings Wood Cottages and is concerned about the effect on the quality of life for his tenants – including noise, light and air pollution.
Mr Barclay’s agent says: “As a direct consequence of the scheme, a large amount of agricultural land is to be taken permanently or severed. In respect of the severed land, there will be a number of fields that, as a result of the scheme, will be rendered unsuitable for farming purposes owing to their size and shape and thus having a significant impact on my client’s farming business.”
A spokeswoman for the county council said: “Hertfordshire County Council and the Environment Agency (EA) are continuing to progress the A120 Little Hadham bypass and flood alleviation scheme.
“In August last year, the council published a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) and Side Roads Order (SRO) for the land required to build the bypass, and to allow alterations to surrounding roads and public rights of way. This coincided with the EA’s publication of a CPO for land required for the flood alleviation scheme.
“Following the statutory objection period, we were notified by Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs that a public inquiry would be held to discuss the orders, and this has been set for July 2018. Both the county council and Environment Agency are continuing to work with objectors to overcome their concerns.
“Subject to the outcome of the legal process, we hope to start construction work in early 2019.
“The overall cost estimate for the project includes risk allowances for the programme running over schedule.”
The hearing is another delay for the project – last year the Department of Transport - said the inquiry was likely to be held between February and May.
Herts had planned to award the construction contract early this year after winning planning permission for the scheme in January 2017. Construction is set to 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.
New roundabouts would 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.