Sudbury Vision
The Sudbury Meadows threatened by the Bypass

Next Steps

This website is called Sudbury Vision for various reasons. One is that saveourmeadows as any meaningful url was not available, but the main reason was that we, as a group, had a different vision for Sudbury.

We had a vision that preserved the iconic landscape that Thomas Gainsborough and indeed John Constable captured in their paintings, we had a vision of how Sudbury did not have to be blighted by Traffic Congestion and we had a vision that only by bringing every idea to the table and as far as possible achieving consensus could Sudbury Improve.
 

The main focus was on defeating the proposal to build a Sudbury Western Bypass. We knew it would cost more than they originally stated, we knew the economic case just did not stack up, we knew it needed majority public support and we knew only strong political backing at Central Government could ever get it funded, otherwise the chances of it being funded were nil. We knew this very shortly after the Outline Business Case was published. The further study confirmed our conclusions.

For those who are interested, the mechanics of working out whether a transport project is affordable is done using the system called Webtag. The basic outline of how is outlined in https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/749086/Project_Business_Case_2018.pdf

There are things to note additionally, the data used for Webtag is updated regularly, usually after a Budget, so that factors such as GDP growth can be factored in. It is notable that James Cartlidge MP for South Suffolk stated that downgrades in GDP growth predictions had seriously damaged the economic viability of the project, and that additional factors had increased the costs of the project.

Put simply, the economic case for a roads project is calculated using the economic benefits from reduced journey times over the time-frame of 60 years, consequently a prediction of reduced GDP growth meant less projected commercial traffic over the 60 year time-frame and thus reduced economic benefits. When we have the data released via FOI we will publish this data.

Meanwhile the 7000+ people who signed the petition argued that the environmental damage of the bypass was too high a price to support the project. Consequently the consultants had to change the actual plans to mitigate environmental damage and infringements upon the sight-lines in Thomas Gainsborough's Mr and Mrs Andrews Painting. This increased the costs from an estimated £38m in the Outline Business Case to between £50m - £70m in the latest study.

The economic case is done using BCA - Benefits to Costs analysis as a ratio.

The original Outline Business Case has a BCA of 3.23:1 (i.e £3.23 for every pound spent) but reduction in the economic benefits and then increase in costs by over 25% meant that ratio fell much further.

We were told early on by independent experts that a BCA of 5:1 was usually necessary for Treasury backing unless Public support was solidly behind the project. Hence we knew the costs were originally unrealistic (a Google search of Roads Project Turnout costs revealed that) and the lack of support for the Pro bypass petition and much stronger pro-environment support meant the project was dead.

But the project had 8 options.

Option J1 –Traffic Management
A package of measures to increase capacity and improve traffic flow at problem junctions throughout Sudbury.
Option SM1 –Sustainable Travel Initiatives
A package of Sustainable Travel Initiative measures, to encourage people to make fewer journeys by private car.
Option P1 –Pricing Options
Introduction of parking charges to discourage car use.
Option PT1 –Public Transport Options (Bus)
Improvement to local bus services (increase frequency, etc.) to encourage more trips by public transport (leading to fewer journeys by private car).
Option PT2 –Public Transport Options (Rail)
Improvement to the overall rail 'offer' to encourage people to make fewer journeys by private car.
Western Option -Long -W1
New 3.5km long single carriageway road from the A134 north of Sudbury to A131 south of Sudbury. To include a junction with Kitchen Hill.
Western Option -Short -W2
New 3km long single carriageway road from the A134 north of Sudbury to A131 south of Sudbury (lower curve than W1). To include a junction with Kitchen Hill.
Southern Option -Long -S1
New 8.5km single carriageway road from Bulmer Tye to the A134/A1071. This carriageway will also be connected near Little Cornard by a 3km north-south link to the Shawlands Retail Park roundabout
Southern Option -Short -S2
New 3km long single carriageway road from the Newton Road-Cats Lane junction to A131 south of Sudbury. To include a junction with B1508.
Eastern Option -Long -E1
New 5.5km long single carriageway road from the A134-B1064 roundabout to A134-Valley Road junction. To include junctions with Acton Lane and B1115.
Eastern Option -Short -E2
New 3km long single carriageway road from the A134 (north of Claremont Ave roundabout) to B1115-Valley Road junction. To include a junction with Acton Lane.
Ring Road Option -L1
A new 22km single carriageway road. Alignment a combination of Option S1 (southern link only) + Option W1 (southern section from A131 –HendinghamRoad Junction) + E1

The Project which was recently very presciently renamed the Sudbury Congestion Relief Project, has been left with 5 options.

These should not be mutually exclusive, and clearly ignore a few solutions, such as rerouting the Strategic Lorry Route away from Sudbury and indeed Halstead and thus reducing a minimal amount of the NOx pollution in Cross Street and an unmeasured amount of Particulate Matter pollution there. Ironically this was done temporarily in August when Gainsborough road on the Sudbury One Way system was closed. While some HGVs ignored the diversions it mostly worked and I read of no complaints of increased HGV traffic on the A134 between Colchester and Sudbury, our MP disagrees, arguing you just divert the issue to villages on the A134, If the August experiment was indeed a failure that blighted some villages he should really present some real evidence to back this up.

It also ignores the Air Quality Action Plan for Cross Street, this involves removing six parking spaces. What supposedly holds this up is the political challenge of lost votes from lost car parking spaces, spaces only used by local residents. There is a suggestion that these parking spaces could be replaced by using space in the Cross Street Garage Forecourt, this would cost, but how much is a life worth?

The movement of the Waste Disposal Facility in Sandy Lane to adjacent to the proposed Chilton Woods development apparently relies on Chilton Woods securing Developers which after many years still has not occurred. This would remove traffic from Cross Street, both local and Lorries but investing to do this is just too difficult.

The movement of the Lorry Park from Kingfisher to Chilton Woods also is too difficult for the same reasons.

 

What next?

 

The Press release state that they will look at the feasibility of junction improvement measures at the following junctions:

 

  • A134 / A131 / B1064 - This is the Melford Roundabout at the end of Melford Road and Springlands Way.
  • A134 / B1115 - This is the roundabout at the top of Gallows Hill where Waldingfield road intersects with Springlands Way and Northern Road
  • A134 / Newton Road / Shawlands Avenue - This is the Junction at the top of Northern Road known to many as the KFC Roundabout
  • A131 / Newton Road / Cornard Road / Great Eastern Road (Belle Vue Junction)
  • A131 Ballingdon Hill / Bulmer Road - This is the junction at the bottom of Ballingdon Hill.


These junction improvements will be done in conjunction with...

as well as assessing whether other complementary measures, such as improvements for walking and cycling, would provide additional benefits.

Suffolk County Council passed a motion supporting Space for Cycling. It is becoming increasingly apparant that only improving Bus Services and investing to enable Active Travel is the best way to increase retail footfall.

So we have to ensure that not only do they incorporate Option SM1 –Sustainable Travel Initiatives
A package of Sustainable Travel Initiative measures, to encourage people to make fewer journeys by private car.
from the original options but also incorporate Option PT1 –Public Transport Options (Bus)
Improvement to local bus services (increase frequency, etc.) to encourage more trips by public transport (leading to fewer journeys by private car).
Option PT2 –Public Transport Options (Rail)
Improvement to the overall rail 'offer' to encourage people to make fewer journeys by private car.

I am not sure what more can be done to improve rail to entice people from their cars. Greater Anglia will be introducing new Stadler Flirt trains in 2019 which will make the journey much nicer than the 30 year old trains currently in use, while the cost of reinstating the line from Sudbury to Cambridge is certainly even more expensive than building a western Bypass (the last estimated costs was £90m in 2012).

But the options of Active Travel investment and Public Transport do offer the alternatives to the car that the other option Option P1 –Pricing Options Introduction of parking charges to discourage car use. (A policy that SCC are actively investigating), would require. After all if you introduce charging and discourage car use without providing an effective alternative to using the car to visit Sudbury, you will undoubtedly negatively impact retail in the Town Centre.

So what kind of junction improvements could SCC make to improve traffic flow while encouraging Active Travel. This is where other factors come into play. A Roundabout at Belle Vue that enables traffic to turn up Newton Road would reduce traffic in King Street, reduce traffic on East Street and Waldingfield Road and make a lot of sense. But to do that it is probable you would need to use the land that used to be the old Public Swimming Pool and Police Station, in front of Belle Vue Park.

This notion though, is probably scuppered or alternatively scuppers the plan for Babergh to borrow £6.5m to build a hotel and restaurant on that land for Whitbread.  (one idea is move the lorry park and build the Hotel there which would make much sense).

Such a roundabout could be built with modern safe cycling and walking practice taken into account, this would mean it also requires traffic light control, but experience abroad shows this can be done and keep traffic flowing, you cannot unfortunately rely on zebra crossings as too many drivers have no respect for pedestrians or cyclists. But given the standstill at this junction most of the day, delayed but flowing movement would be an improvement.

The same approach to enabling safe cycling and walking must also be built into the other junctions listed.

There is one junction not mentioned, that at the bottom of York Road where Toucan Crossings and a dropped kerb at the top of North Street is sorely needed to enable cyclists and indeed mobility scooters to avoid Girling Street.

If the Belle Vue Junction was so changed then there is much potential to improve Sudbury for the benefit of pedestrians and cyclists and thus positively impact Sudbury's Town Centre and achieve some organic regeneration. This would then enable Babergh and Suffolk to charge for short-term parking and control parking and not damage the Town Centre retail shops.

There is much more that can be done to reduce car use. A network of cycle paths, mostly off road is possible in Sudbury so everyone can reach their school, workplace or shops via safe cycling routes. Given limited space on many streets a 20mph limit at least on residential streets would seem sensible, in some places perhaps a Mini-Holland approach would be justified. 30% of peak term-time traffic is the school run this can be much reduced. More can be found on https://stourvalleycycling.net about what can be done.

Not just cycling though there are required footpaths and missing and narrow pavements that deters walking as well.

This is just the beginning. What really needs to happen is that WSP and SCC properly consult everyone, they have ignored Sudbury for decades and now they state they intend to do something, but there are lots of ideas, we need a forum to bring all these ideas in.

The hard work has just begun. Hopefully SCC properly listen to the views of those who know Sudbury better than they or indeed their Consultants WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff do.

Categories
Air Pollution
AQMA
Bypass
cycling
LCWIS
Solutions
ULEZ
Walking