Housing scheme deferred over traffic fears

A controversial proposed Walsall housing development has been delayed again as a planning wrangle over traffic access rumbles on.

Artist impression of proposed new homes on land behind Cricket Close, Walsall. Photo: BM3 Architecture
Artist impression of proposed new homes on land behind Cricket Close, Walsall. Photo: BM3 Architecture

Walsall Housing Group (WHG) is bidding to build the 29 new properties on former allotment land, next to the former Walsall Tennis Club facility, off Cricket Close.

But the plan was put back for the second time in a row by Walsall Council’s planning committee over concerns of increased traffic on the cul-de-sac.

Residents argued using Cricket Close as the access route to the new homes would be dangerous and result in accidents and called for a new road to be created off Broadway to serve the houses.

After the proposal was deferred in December, WHG amended the proposal to include a temporary haul road from the Broadway which would be used by construction vehicles.

They said this would minimise dust and noise in Cricket Close for the duration of the development but people in the area still objected to the scheme.

Long term Cricket Close resident Jane Wilding said: “The close had always been a safe, quiet, peaceful place to live and I don’t want it destroyed by being used as the main access to the housing development.

“Our objections are based mainly on road safety issues. At no point have we objected to the development but we have consistently opposed the use of Cricket Close for access when there is a suitable alternative on the Broadway.

Impact

“The recent amendment has done nothing whatsoever to address this issue, only removing site traffic to the Broadway and still using Cricket Close for access.”

Ward councillor Waheed Rasab added the forthcoming A34 Sprint Bus scheme would increase traffic in the area.

He said: “The residents are not objecting to the development, they are objecting to the traffic increase and the impact on Cricket Close.

“The reason this was deferred was to look at redesigning the scheme and have traffic coming from the Broadway.”

The authority’s road safety officers said they would not support access off Broadway for this development because it would exacerbate existing problems, adding Cricket Close had the capacity to take the extra traffic.

Sport England also said it would object to any redevelopment of the tennis land until the club had been allocated a new permanent home.

Walsall Council leader and committee chairman Mike Bird said work to find the tennis club a new facility was underway.

And he added the solution might be for WHG to come back with a comprehensive development incorporating both the allotments and tennis club land – which the provider owns – once Sport England’s concerns had been addressed.

Confident

Councillor Bird said: “I’m confident that if the Sport England objection wasn’t there and the whole of the land could be used, there could be a solution that would be satisfactory.

“I am concerned (about traffic issues). I had ‘Keep Clear’ signs painted on at Cricket Close and Ravensdale Gardens, as I travel that everyday to work.

“This is not a comprehensive development. This should be reconsidered when the land, currently the former tennis courts, is available to be incorporated into the development.”

The application was deferred for WHG to reconsider the access and come up with a comprehensive development of the whole site.

WHG Corporate Director of Development, Rebecca Bennett Casserly said: “We have always listened closely to the concerns of residents currently living in Cricket Close and taken their feedback into account.

“The safety of residents and motorists is our priority and we will continue to work with our highways partners to consider all access options with this in mind.

“We are confident that this new development of high quality homes will contribute to and enhance the surrounding area and will have minimal impact on road traffic.”

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