It's a rethink on Spalding Western Relief Road
Public and political pressure is forcing the county council to rethink the middle section of the controversial Spalding Western Relief Road.
Up to now, two lines on a map meant up to nine homes on Bourne Road were doomed to demolition - whichever route yellow (western) or purple (eastern) is chosen.
Now the county council’s executive member for highways, Richard Davies, says the authority is prepared to revisit a previously agreed route - which passed relatively harmlessly through allotments - and a route further to the west.
Catherine Roberts and husband Frank are among residents who fear bulldozers will come crashing through their homes if the yellow route is adopted.
Yesterday Catherine said: “It’s pleasing to see they are looking at alternative options.
“What we want now is a proper public consultation - with a proper public meeting or meetings - so the public can see the plans and decide for themselves.”
Bourne Road residents were in Hall Place on Saturday collecting signatures for a petition to the county council.
MP Sir John Hayes met residents that afternoon and last week had face-to-face talks with Coun Davies, urging the county council to go back to the drawing board.
The county council conducted a survey on the line of the road and released the results today.
The survey showed:
39 per cent (234 people) preferred a western alignment (yellow route)
37 per cent (227) preferred an alternative option
24 per cent (146) preferred an eastern alignment
Coun Davies said: “We have listened to the views of residents and are now moving ahead with a further study that will look at a number of options for the road’s central section.
“This will include the previous allotments route and a route further to the west.
“We will keep residents informed of the study’s progress and expect the process to take about four months to complete.
“This means a decision on the most appropriate option will be made this summer.”
Catherine says the process should be open to the public - and transparent.
She and husband Frank learned their home could be bulldozed after a neighbour knocked on their door, and not from the county council or the district council, who together agreed the new local plan which includes the protected corridor safeguarding the route of the proposed road.
* MP Sir John has “verbally informed” the housing and planning minister that he will ask him to decide the fate of the Pinchbeck end of Spalding Western Relief Road.
Lincolnshire County Council aims to start work on the northern (Pinchbeck) end this winter and the southern end (Spalding Common) the following winter.
The authority hopes to fund the middle section of the four-mile road from developer contributions with the building of thousands of houses.
The MP met Coun Davies at the House of Commons on Thursday, and urged him to go back to the drawing board on the route of the road.
Sir John said: “I also said to him that I felt it was inappropriate to go ahead with the northern part of the scheme until there was absolute certainty about the ability to fund the middle section because we could end up with two roads to nowhere.”
The MP has asked Coun Davies to look at all potential route options again.
As well as his concern about Bourne Road homes facing a demolition threat, the MP is focusing on the potential loss of open countryside between Spalding and Pinchbeck - and the impact upon people’s amenity and on wildlife.
The MP insists the road must improve people’s wellbeing and amenity, and not detract from it, and says this time there should be a more meaningful engagement with the public so they are fully informed and have a proper say.
The county counciladmits it fears losing the £12million Government funding to build the northern section.
Coun Davies said: “It’s incredibly difficult to source funding for projects of this size all at once, so we need to make the most of funding as and when it becomes available.
“This is why we often build major pieces of infrastructure, like relief roads, in phases or sections.
“It’s important that we make a start building the northern section of the road soon because the £12 million awarded to us last February from the Government’s housing infrastructure fund needs to be spent by 2021, otherwise we will lose it.”
* Spalding people were waiting in Hall Place on Saturday to support Bourne Road residents living in fear of their homes being bulldozed.
Residents aim to collect 1,000 signatures on a petition so they can take their fight direct to a county council meeting in Lincoln.
So far 650 supporters have signed.
Catherine and Frank Roberts were featured in the Spalding Guardian on Thursday, when they revealed news of the demolition threat was broken to them by a neighbour ... and not the councils, Lincolnshire County and South Holland, who drew up the local plan.
Frank told us then: “I stood there - as if someone had shot me - with my mouth open.”
Catherine, one of the residents carrying placards on Saturday, said: “We had a lot of people who had read the article and were actually looking for us in Hall Place.
“We heard comments like ‘disgusting’, ‘despicable’ ‘how can they take your home after you have worked and saved’. ‘surely the law will not allow this’, ‘we feel so sorry for you’, and ‘good luck, we hope you win’. Thank you to everyone for getting behind us in our fight.”
Catherine said a member of staff at Spalding store Bookmark was moved by their plight and manager Darren Sutton has agreed to take a paper petition for the public to sign.
The residents now have paper petitions in the Co-op’s Wygate store and several smaller shops as well as an online petition on the county council website.
Spalding resident Keith Brooks has written to the Secretary of State asking for the road decision to be made by Westminster.
* The Bourne Road residents' e-petition to the county council can be found by clicking here.
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More by this authorLynne Harrison