Relief road for 1,100-home Haverhill development to progress after agreement reached
The road networks and pathways for the 1,100-home northwest Haverhill development have been given the green light by West Suffolk Council, despite concerns about traffic build-up.
The reserved matters application by developer Persimmon Homes was approved during a meeting of West Suffolk’s development control committee on Wednesday.
This followed the committee’s decision in July to add a requirement to prevent Ann Suckling Road, which joins the A143, from being overwhelmed with traffic generated by the new houses.
The requirement was that the internal loop road, or relief road, phase be completed before any housing developments are connected to it, allowing people to take this route rather than Ann Suckling Road.
Highways officers decided this was too onerous and therefore unreasonable, and Persimmon Homes added that it was unnecessary for highway safety purposes.
Persimmon Homes instead suggested that only phase six of the development should be connected to Ann Suckling Road before the loop road is completed.
Phase six is the provision of 98 houses on land adjacent to the point where Ann Suckling Road currently ends.
A haul road to the site of phase six is also included in plans, to allow construction traffic to use this rather than Ann Suckling Road.
Whether to agree to this compromise was the main consideration for the committee on Wednesday, and the final vote showed 15 in favour and one abstention.
Conservative councillor for Haverhill North Joe Mason said: “The haul road to prevent haulage traffic from using Ann Suckling Road is helpful for reducing noise and inconvenience to other properties.
“I do feel it is a shame phase six has been submitted before other phases, but this plan at least tries to mitigate a number of concerns raised by residents.
“I still have concerns about traffic blockages around the estate. We must have suitable infrastructure in place to cater for traffic.”
Phase one of the development – the building of 200 houses on the eastern edge of the entire site – is almost complete, having been approved in 2017.
The provision of 41 houses to the west of phase one was approved in 2020, as phase 2A.
Conservative councillor for Withersfield, Peter Stevens, said: “I am disappointed with the way development occurs in this country. The infrastructure never comes first.
“We battle against developers’ profits to get things done for the benefit of residents.
“We’ve got improvements, but we’re fighting this battle with all the developments that come forward.
“And it depresses me.”
The remaining stages of development are: sports pitches and associated open space, 119 homes (phase 3B), 98 homes (phase six), 124 dwellings and a local community/retail centre (phase 3a), and phases four and five – which Persimmon plans to provide information about later.
Independent councillor for Haverhill East, John Burns, said: “This is better than nothing.
“Although I’m pleased finally to see the relief road started, it was planned 50 years ago.
“In 2009 the outline plan was produced and in 2015 the outline was approved.
“Here we are seven years later, and the relief road is only now being built.
“Things like deciding whether a tree has to go somewhere are holding up the construction of the relief road. Actually, just get on and build the thing, and worry about the trees afterwards.”
“It should be built by now. We wouldn’t be arguing about construction traffic if it was built.
“Highways have not objected to the plans. I don’t necessarily agree with their assessment of traffic.
“At 8.15 on a Monday morning, the A143 adjoining Ann Suckling Road has, on average, one car every five seconds going towards the town centre – and this is held up by the traffic around the school.
“That’s only going to get worse, as we know.”
Officers at the local highway authority undertook a sensitivity test after the recommendation to build the loop road before other phases came from the committee. The results indicated that the junction between Ann Suckling Road and the A143 would still function within capacity with an increased number of vehicles.
Haverhill resident Michael Ford said: “The original plan was always for the relief road to be built first.
“Conditions are secured to ensure the proper process, and to ensure developments are carried out in the timely and proper manner.
“In this instance, it seems more stringent conditions need to be applied.”