1.1The Council approved this response to Go-East on the CHUMMS consultation at its meeting on 18 January 2001.
1.2The Godmanchester Town Council (GTC) has reviewed the Strategies described in the Information Pack on the CHUMMS. The Council views with alarm the Strategies 2 and 4 which show a dual 3 lane carriageway to the south of Godmanchester where the close proximity would create noise and air pollution to local residents and further congestion through the town.
1.3The Godmanchester Town Council preferences are:
Public Transport : A guided bus or light rail from Cambridge to Huntingdon, with consideration given to a crossing of the Ouse downstream of the existing Huntingdon - Godmanchester road bridge to allow passengers to link with the bus station rather than the railway station;
Highway proposals: A14 northern alignment with maximum noise and pollution attenuation measures;
Demand management measures to reduce traffic access to Cambridge and encourage use of public transport;
Short term measures including improvements to the Spittals and Brampton Hut junctions, A14 speed control, traffic calming through Godmanchester, and improving and subsidising existing public transport.
1.4The GTC broadly supports the local and regional objectives of the study. Some additional suggestions are made to ensure that the proposed options are evaluated against objectives set to protect existing communities and nature conservation from damage.
1.5A completed CHUMMS questionnaire is attached.
2.1Godmanchester has suffered from a significant increase in population and traffic in the last decade. The Council is determined to support measures that reduce the current problems from local and through traffic and ensure that future growth in traffic is managed in a sustainable way that protects the inhabitants and surrounding environment of Godmanchester.
2.2The GTC submission to the CHUMMS project in August 2000 highlighted a number of traffic problems that particularly affect Godmanchester and identified a number of options the GTC believes would help to solve them. The Council identified the following as the main issues to be resolved by CHUMMS:
2.3The Strategies all contain a number of options and the GTC considers it is simplistic to combine the many combinations of options into only four strategy plans. The traffic forecasts presented for the strategies are not detailed enough to show which would be most beneficial in removing traffic from local roads and which, such as Strategies 2 and 4 may increase traffic through Godmanchester. The lack of vertical alignments or cross sections also makes it difficult to assess the impact of the proposals on Godmanchester. However it is clear that the options that show a 6 lane highway close to properties in Godmanchester will have a considerable impact.
3.1The list of local and regional objectives provided in the information pack is generally comprehensive. It identifies the existing problems and makes positive objectives for them. It does however fail to include specific objectives to ensure that the existing problems are not simply transferred to other areas and communities. GTC recommends objectives are added, or the existing ones clarified to:
3.2The incorporation of these objectives will fit in better with a more comprehensive sustainability appraisal. The results of this should be published before a preferred set of options is promoted.
3.3GTC has the following comments on the current objectives:
4.1A bus service already exists from Huntingdon to Cambridge via Godmanchester but this is not attractive for users as the buses are held up along the A14 and the service covers a very limited area of Cambridge.
4.2The existing service into Huntingdon and around Godmanchester for school children could be improved by increasing the number of buses and reducing the fares. This would help to discourage many parents from taking their children to school by car.
4.3These improvements alone will not however solve the problems of the A14 or traffic through Godmanchester.
4.4A guided bus system could provide an improved and more reliable public transport system. Guided buses on roads, local feeder buses and the park and ride sites illustrated would help maximise use and the areas covered. An attractive pricing system and congestion charging or other forms of "demand management" would be needed to encourage a switch from car to bus.
4.5GTC would like to see consideration of a guided bus route which ran to the north east of the A14 as it crosses the Great Ouse at Godmanchester to join the inner ring road to give direct access to the bus station. This is a more central site in Huntingdon and would enable direct contact with the existing bus services. Buses on the road could continue to the railway station, Brampton and beyond. This option would also allow the guided bus system to be built in advance of major improvements to the A14. GTC strongly supports further investigation of this option.
4.6Strategy 1 shows a guided bus system terminating at a park and ride site at Godmanchester. This would increase significantly the number of cars and buses through Godmanchester. GTC will strongly oppose this Strategy.
4.7GTC considers that a light rail system, although giving substantial improvements in public transport, is probably less attractive than a guided bus system for the following reasons:
a light rail system is substantially more expensive to build and operate than
a guided bus system and the information pack tables do not demonstrate that
the rail system offers quicker or better service to compensate for the extra
it does not offer the flexibility of a guided bus system for covering a wide area with "one mode" travelling. Passengers would have to use buses or cars to access the rail from areas to far to walk or cycle;
guided buses are cheaper to buy and more easily updated to new technologies, e.g. cleaner engines.
4.8Both guided buses and light rail offer substantial potential for improved public transport and GTC would like to see both examined in more detail before a decision was made on a preferred option.
4.9GTC strongly supports measures to transfer long distance freight traffic from road to rail. An East West Rail route to move freight from Felixstowe and Harwich to the Midlands and beyond would ease congestion and improve road safety along the A14. However this study does not cover a wide enough area to adequately analyse the benefits and costs of such a change in freight movement. GTC considers it unlikely that light rail, or guided bus and heavy rail can be justified for passenger use in the short term. GTC suggests that for this study CHUMMS concentrates on the road/bus movement and allows the regional multi-modal studies to consider heavy rail improvements.
4.10The problems of the A14 are well documented. The GTC is concerned that, in the future, more traffic will use the A1198 to avoid the A14 in peak morning periods and this will impact on Godmanchester, Papworth and other villages along the route.
4.11This option alone is unacceptable.
4.12Actions such as A14 speed control, signals and improved access layouts at Brampton Hut and Spittals interchanges would help to improve traffic flows and safety. At Spittals interchange, it should be feasible to reduce the traffic on the roundabouts, improve safety and traffic flow by creating new slip roads. At Brampton Hut a new flyover, or changes to the slip road alignments are possible. Improved access layouts at other junctions, including the Godmanchester access would also be beneficial.
4.13Speeding traffic through Godmanchester is a particular road safety hazard and source of annoyance to local residents. GTC would like traffic calming introduced in Godmanchester to reduce traffic through the town and reduce traffic speeds, particularly on the main access roads, Cambridge Street, West Street, London Road and The Avenue and other roads used as "rat runs" e.g. Tudor Road.
4.14One simple action would be to alter the signing for northbound Huntingdon traffic on the A14 to leave the A14 at the Spittals junction instead of the Godmanchester junction. This would give a similar arrangement on the A1 where Huntingdon traffic is directed to the Brampton Hut junction, instead of through Brampton.
4.15GTC recommends that because of the time likely to elapse before a major new road can be promoted, these short-term actions and improvements to the existing bus services be pursued now.
4.16GTC acknowledges that a southern or northern Huntingdon bypass, linked to closure of the embanked length of A14 through Godmanchester would benefit the numerous residents in Godmanchester who live close to the existing road. However a southern bypass would be a new source of noise and pollution to residents in the southern part of Godmanchester. It is too close to Godmanchester, would create noise, pollution and disruption to local residents, and increase traffic through the town and along the A1198 to the existing Godmanchester junction with the A14.
4.17With the prevailing south westerly - north westerly winds and the need for the road to be embanked to cross the river and the new grade-separated junction with the A1198, the number of properties affected is likely to be at least as large as affected currently. Although sound insulation may be offered for houses closest to the road that would benefit residents in doors in winter, the same would not be true in warm weather when windows need to be opened. Uncontrollable noise levels would particularly occur in gardens. The combination of noise and pollution will therefore upset residents and cause a reduction in property values.
4.18The Huntingdon District Council has recently proposed to allocate further land at the south of Godmanchester for housing. This is the subject of a Local Plan Inquiry but if the proposals were adopted, further land not shown on the Strategy maps and very close to the alignment would be developed. The houses would then be affected by noise, pollution and visual intrusion.
4.19The main accesses on foot from Godmanchester to the open countryside are currently to Portholme, under the A14 to the Ouse valley way towards Houghton or along Cow Lane towards Hemingford, up Silver Street to the south of the town and along West Street/Berry Lane. With this highway option, three of these routes would be affected. Godmanchester would be encircled effectively by dual 2 or 3 lane carriageways.
4.20The southern A14 route would cross the river Great Ouse through a designated area of Best Landscape. This is an importance designation and the area should be protected.
4.21The river crossing is also just upstream of Portholme. Portholme is designated under the Habitats Directive as a candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC) because it is internationally important wet meadow. There is considerable risk that run-off from a 6 lane highway just upstream will pollute the river and meadow and cause damage to the site.
4.22The junction of the new A14 alignment at Brampton would mean a significant increase in traffic using the A1 between Brampton and Alconbury. This would require widening of the existing alignment to take additional lanes and a corresponding increase in costs and noise and pollution in Brampton. These factors are not shown on the Strategy map although the A1 widening does appear on the Oscar Faber traffic drawings.
4.23GTC is strongly against a southern by-pass on the alignment shown.
4.24This option has significant benefits for Godmanchester. It would remove the traffic from the embanked section from Godmanchester to Spittals junction, improving the environment and reducing traffic noise levels in the town. These benefits would need to be balanced against impacts from the suggested dual 2 lane carriageway to the A141 and the introduction of a park and ride facility.
4.25The impact of the proposal on villages to the north of Huntingdon is exaggerated on the Strategy map 3 as the alignment is shown alongside the heavy rail route. The heavy rail link needs to be considered independently of the road scheme. However, if this alignment is suitable for rail, it makes sense to maximise the use of the corridor rather than creating further disruption elsewhere.
4.26The alignment has advantages in allowing easy access to the Alconbury and Wyton air bases. When these sites are developed, ideally for mixed residential and commercial use, this alignment would give greatest benefit for access.
4.27The traffic forecasts also demonstrate that the route would be of greatest benefit in removing traffic from existing roads. The route is close to the principal towns and villages to the north west of Cambridge. It would allow better access to the fenland towns such as Ramsay, March and Chatteris and help the regeneration of these towns. It would also eliminate the need to upgrade the A1 north from Brampton to Alconbury.
4.28The alignment of this option as it passes Godmanchester is the same as the A14 on-line widening with Huntingdon southern by-pass and therefore has the same disadvantages to Godmanchester residents and the local environment.
4.29The Oscar Faber traffic forecasts for 2016 for this option indicate that some 116,000 vehicles per day are likely to use the proposed three-lane carriageway and local feeder road along the line of the existing A428. The capacity of a dual three lane carriageway ranges from 80,000 to 95,000, depending on whether the road is a motorway or not. The traffic forecasts therefore indicate this route will exceed its design capacity within a few years of construction. This is clearly unacceptable, as it would simply transfer the congestion of the existing A14 to this new route.
4.30GTC is strongly against this southern by-pass option on the alignment shown.
4.31A detailed traffic noise study is required in order to compare traffic noise from the A14 and A1 roads with that of the proposed schemes on residential development throughout the study area. The study should have regard to the effect of wind direction on noise and help determine the positioning of sound barriers to protect communities likely to be affected.
5.1Godmanchester Town Council has major concerns about the existing traffic situation and some of the proposals:
5.2GTC considers that the northern and southern by-pass options linked to a guided bus or light rail option should be considered in more detail in both a sustainability appraisal that takes account of social and environmental factors and a cost/benefit study. GTC considers that a northern by-pass linked to a guided bus or light rail system into Huntingdon is likely to be most favourable overall. GTC would like to be involved in this work and lend its local knowledge to the process.
Godmanchester Town Council
18 January 2001
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