Bypass plea rejected by inquiry

PUBLISHED: 11:51 16 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:40 06 May 2010

An accident in the lanes used as a rat-run

An accident in the lanes used as a rat-run

RESIDENTS with deep concerns about rat-running through their villages are campaigning for a new bypass. They believe south Hitchin s road network is incapable of handling the volumes of traffic passing east-west between Stevenage and Luton, leading to jam

RESIDENTS with deep concerns about rat-running through their villages are campaigning for a new bypass.

They believe south Hitchin's road network is incapable of handling the volumes of traffic passing east-west between Stevenage and Luton, leading to jams in Hitchin and rat-running in the surrounding lanes.

Communities have said they're tired of the number of accidents along their narrow country roads and fear that future proposed developments across the region will augment the issues as more cars take to the roads.

They are calling for road improvements to absorb the traffic around Hitchin and believe a bypass south of the town would alleviate many of the problems.

The Greens and Great Wymondley Residents Association was set up by concerned people living in Todds Green and the Wymondley area, just north-west of Stevenage.

The chairman of the group, Tim Smyth, proposes that the A505 at Great Offley and Lilley and the A602 dual carriageway at Wymondley be linked.

Mr Smyth said: "The east-west road communications are not good enough especially between the A1 and M1.

"Soon you'll be able to drive the whole way from the M1 to Royston on a dual carriageway, all apart from the area south of Hitchin where drivers have to go through the town itself.

"We'll have to have a Hitchin bypass."

Mr Smyth hoped to put forward their proposal at the public examination of the draft East of England Plan on February 2 but was not permitted to do so, or to speak.

At the meeting in Letchworth's Spirella Ballroom were members of North Herts District Council, Herts County Council and Stevenage Borough Council.

They were concentrating on the potential 20,000 new homes that may be built in Stevenage and North Herts and comments were made regarding transport infrastructure.

Mr Smyth fears that new developments in Stevenage, Hitchin and Luton (especially Luton Airport growth) will put increased pressure on an already jammed road network.

All three councils appear to recognise the problem with current east-west road communications.

A Stevenage Borough Council spokesman said: "The council recognises the problems caused by rat-running through narrow country lanes around the Greens and Great Wymondley.

"To improve access to Stevenage, we support in principle east-west links to the south of Hitchin, but insufficient work has been done for us to support any particular route at the present time.

"We have indicated to the public panel for the East of England Plan that we would support a recommendation that further studies be carried out to identify a route and deliver a southern bypass before 2021."

A spokesman for NHDC said: "The question of a Hitchin southern bypass has not been raised at the Examination in Public of the East of England Plan and the council believes it is highly unlikely that the final version of the plan will support it.

"In that case it would need some dramatic change of circumstances, for example major traffic growth associated with Luton Airport or the emergence of the A505 as a major/strategic east-west route, to resurrect it."

Dave Humby of Hertfordshire County Council said at the meeting on February 2: "The A1(M) should be improved along with east-west links between Luton and Stansted.

"These would obviously have implications to places like Hitchin but talk of a southern Hitchin bypass location is premature."

The construction of a bypass south of Hitchin does not appear to be imminent and concerned residents continue to fear more accidents from rat-running.

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