A MAJOR housing scheme at Loansdean would have no significant effect on town centre traffic, it has been claimed.
Consultant Dr Nicholas Bunn, who is Regional Director at WYG in Newcastle, told a planning inquiry on Friday that robust traffic studies have been carried out to assess the impact of the proposed 200-home development, including a survey of the Telford Bridge queues.
The study found that at worst queues were backed up 700m from the junction, with the peak time at 8.40am, and it was taking about six minutes to get through the traffic.
Using predicted traffic flow figures for the new estate, Dr Bunn said that 18 or 19 cars from the development would turn towards the town centre and that a maximum of four of them would be in the queue at any one time, extending the queue length by just 20 to 30m.
“There is a small adverse impact on that queue, but it is not going to be a big one, it is not a severe impact,” he said.
“The development does not have much of an impact on that queue. The effect is quite small when the numbers are quite big. Even if we doubled the flow rate it is not going to increase the queue very much.”
Dr Bunn said that the Telford Bridge junction did not need to be included in traffic assessments as part of the scheme, but the work was carried out following recent controversy about new signals that have been installed.
He added that the impact should reduce if problems with congestion at the lights are resolved, while the Morpeth Northern Bypass is estimated to reduce traffic flows from the A197 to Telford Bridge by around 300 cars at peak times.
Members of the South Loansdean Coalition, which opposes the development, disputed the estimated figures of traffic flow to the town centre from the housing site and said the 2001 census data used to base them on was out of date.
Dr Bunn said it was the most recent data available.
The consultant said that the general traffic assessment had been carried out robustly, basing it on the development of 240 homes, instead of the 200 proposed, and taking the commercial building as a convenience store, which is considered to generate the most amount of traffic, though no specific uses have yet been agreed.
He said a new roundabout at the entrance to the estate will address any access issues and could improve road safety in the area, and that highways authorities had raised no objections to the proposals.
Dr Bunn also discussed the sustainability of the South Loansdean site.
He admitted that St George’s Hospital and Peacock Gap sites had the best scores for accessibility to local services on foot, while the application site had a similar rating to potential development plots to the north of the town.
But he said that for public transport, St George’s had a very poor rating as there are currently no bus services there, while the Loansdean site had good access and was better than the northern sites.
He added that Loansdean was closer to Newcastle for commuting and shopping, but accepted that the northern sites were closer to middle and high schools.
The coalition said other sites were also closer to local first schools and members questioned why Fairmoor had not been considered as an employment site at the north of the town when assessing travel to work.