AMBITIOUS proposals to pedestrianise Hucknall town centre and create a new inner relief road have caused concern.
The application for environmental improvements, submitted by Nottinghamshire County Council Environment and Resources, proposes the demolition and alteration of several buildings, plus a new relief road between Annesley Road and the Bolsover Street/Station Road Junction.
The junction at Linby Road/Ashgate Road would be realigned, with new pedestrian and cycle links, enclosures and landscaping created.
Although it is hoped the scheme will ‘unify the town into a thriving retail centre’ and reduce traffic congestion, the plans have been met with scepticism.
One Hucknall resident for 40 years, who has asked not to be named and has been following the plans since their infancy, said: “This is not plan A, it is plan C. It is the third major change to the same proposed scheme as Nottinghamshire County Council attempt to satisfy the requirements of the Local Plan issued by Ashfield District Council in 2002.
“It is claimed that the scheme will reduce traffic congestion through Hucknall town centre, but this is unjustifiable.
“The new road does not provide extra traffic lanes, it will have at least as many junctions as the current High Street and its speed restrictions will be the same. It will also have to cater for pedestrians trying to access the traffic-free portion of High Street from the Linby Road side of town.
“It is thus impossible to believe that this will lead to better traffic flow through the town. On the contrary, the concentration of traffic on Station Road, with multiple junctions, and the mini island at its junction with Annesley Road will cause far worse congestion than the current layout, with an increased chance of total gridlock. Planned expansion of the town can only make matters worse.”
An Environmental Investigation Agency’s (EIA) report - which is available to view online along with the full plans - concludes an adverse impact is possible, particularly during the scheme’s construction phase.
“As well as unavoidable noise and dust disturbance, the report states the new inner relief road will be ‘moderately detrimental’ to the character of the town, severing several residential areas, creating larger junctions and demolishing houses which form the existing fabric of the town.
“The severance and culverting of Baker Lane is listed as a town character negative, whilst the report acknowleges the adverse visual impact the inner relief road will have on the general area.”
But the report also says the scheme can have a number of positive benefits with a reduction in traffic congestion and an improvement in road safety and town centre environment for pedestrians amongst the key benefits.
The report also says the development can improve travel and walking times across the High Street and improve journey ambiance.
It is felt a bus link road between the new road and High Street will improve the bus service with direct High Street access, whilst a planting and landscaping part of the scheme will benefit the area overall, with the possibility of increased bat roosting.
Overall, the EIA finds the proposed scheme’s benefits outweigh its adverse impacts. Residents fear that if plans go-ahead, the town centre will become a number of disassociated areas, with no central theme or feeling of unity.
Paul Horn, principal project manager for Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “The application for the Hucknall town centre improvement scheme has been advertised widely and local people have had the opportunity to submit their comments, all of which will be taken into account in determining the outcome of the application.”
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