North East Bypass & Station Update

You can currently view updates from ECC about the release of plans for the Chelmsford North East Bypass and Beaulieu Station through a specially created ‘virtual village hall’ event following the award of £218million of Government funding for the schemes.

To find out more information about the schemes please visit the Chelmsford North East Bypass website and visit the exhibition as if you were attending in person at the following link:

www.essex.gov.uk/chelmsford-north-east-bypass

The virtual exhibition is optimised and therefore best viewed on a desktop/laptop rather than a mobile device.

North East Bypass & Station Update

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, planned engagement events in relation to the Chelmsford North East Bypass & Station project have been postponed. Further information on the £250 million road and rail upgrade for Chelmsford will be made available ahead of the bypass planning application early next year.

For now there is some updated information, including a newsletter and a short film explaining the scheme, which can be found at:

https://tinyurl.com/NEBypass

Bridleway Update

The City Council Parks Team were due to undertake work on the section of Bridleway 18 which connects Channels (Bellway Homes development) with Beaulieu between 2nd-6th March. The project had already been re-scheduled from mid-February due to the need for a Traffic Regulation Order to temporarily close the section of bridleway whilst the works to lay the new surface are in progress. There was also a need to discuss and agree a time-frame for the works with Cadent Gas who require access over the land to their gas compound.

Whilst the Traffic Regulation Order technically came into force from 2nd March the Parks team, despite their best efforts, have struggled to obtain a response from Cadent Gas despite chasing regularly and as such the works have been re-scheduled again to start on 9th March.

Update 9th March
Work has started! The City Council Parks Team estimate that it will take a week to complete the temporary surface upgrade. All being well residents will have a surfaced route, which can be used in all weathers, week commencing Monday 16th March. 🙂

Proposed 50MPH Speed Limits

For information, there is a Traffic Regulation Order proposal (TRAF/7221) listed on the Essex Highways website which introduces a 50mph speed limit on a number of roads (or sections of road) around Chelmsford. It mainly covers Chelmer Valley Road and Essex Regiment Way however Channels Drive is listed as follows:

“from its junction with the roundabout at A130 Essex Regiment Way, east for approximately 56 metres.”

The general intention of the order appears to be “to improve and regulate the wider management of traffic flows along the A1016 and A130 route into and out of Chelmsford City Centre” however it seems odd as to why traffic would travel at 50mph for 56m along Channels Drive especially as this location will become busier if planning for the proposed supermarket goes ahead. Additionally pedestrians are still walking down Channels Drive to the retail units on Essex Regiment Way although this will be hopefully be short term as a path is created through the parkland areas.

There are full details at:
https://www.essexhighways.org/highway-schemes-and-developments/traffic-regulation-orders.aspx

Any comments or objections need to be forwarded by email to:
trafficregulation.order@essexhighways.org

Pegasus Crossing Update

We have received an important update today in relation to the much needed crossing at the bottom of the bridleway, which runs adjacent to the Southern border of Eagle Rise (Bellway), to facilitate safe passage across Essex Regiment Way.

Essex County Council is now in a position where it can avoid a number of complex land issues (and potential public inquiry) which means that the Pegasus crossing design has commenced as it can now be delivered within Highway controlled land. This also means that the time-frame for delivery (i.e. design, tendering and installation) comes back into Council control.

As a result the project team has confirmed that the scheme will be out to tender in the spring with detailed design and approvals to follow. Dates for installation are not confirmed at this stage however it is hoped that construction would begin later this year and completed before the end of the 2020/21 financial year.

Many thanks to Cllr John Aldridge and Little Waltham Parish Council who have lobbed strongly on our behalf over recent months.

🙂

Bridleway Update

Further to the last update in mid January, the City Council Parks team have visited and inspected the section of Bridleway 18 which connects Channels (Bellway Homes development) with Beaulieu.

It has been agreed that they will undertake works to create a temporary surface, akin to that shown in the photo below. The material will ‘self-bind’ and is porous so as to avoid any excessive surface water build up although the texture and colour may vary slightly from the image.

As the bridleway is so muddy and boggy in places, some sections will have to be dug out completely in order to lay the new surface. The works will require a temporary closure of this section of the path for approximately one week due to the need for a mini digger and smaller site vehicles to access the bridleway and remove material.

Update 20th February 2020
The City Council has advised that the works are now scheduled to take place between 2nd-6th March. This is because there has been a need to apply for a traffic regulation order to temporarily close the section of bridleway whilst the works to lay the surface are in progress. There was also a need to discuss and agree a time-frame for the works with Cadent Gas who require access over the land to their gas compound.

Bridleway (Eagle Rise to Beaulieu)

As previously noted, and following a site visit in early December, Chelmsford City Council has been liaising with the Essex County Council Highways team (who are in turn in discussion with Public Rights of Way team officers) with a view to laying limestone chipping along the 80m section of the bridleway route between the South West corner of Eagle Rise and Beaulieu. This will provide a temporary hard surface and whilst the route will remain unlit, it should be possible to negotiate safely without getting covered in mud.

We have been advised that Highways officers are currently seeking to ascertain the cost of the proposed temporary surface works and a source of funding has been identified to pay for the work.

The City Council Planning Officer is expecting to receive an update from Highways Officers by the end of this week and will aim to provide us with a confirmed position and hopefully, a timetable for completion of the works.

Site Wide & Highways Updates

Site-Wide Management
It was previously reported that DJC Property Management were given notice by the site-wide management company and as such there has been no formal site-wide management taking place since August 2019. POD Management has been appointed as managing agent for site-wide matters and this should facilitate more efficient management across the development generally on the basis POD also provide services to Bellway residents.

This also means that the ongoing investigation into site-wide costs will be easier to progress as POD now have formal authority to undertake a forensic analysis of the records previously kept by DJC.

Channels Signage
Residents will no doubt have noticed the broken signage at the entrance to the Channels Development. The large sign as you drive in from the first roundabout on Essex Regiment Way has a number of letters missing and does not give a good impression.

This was previously the responsibility of Bellway however as they have now left the site, the landowner agent (Ptarmigan Land) will work with POD to confirm whether the signage is to be removed or whether it will be repaired and maintained appropriately.

Speed Limit Signs (Eagle Rise & Aqua Verde)
The specification for the missing 20mph speed limit signs has been agreed with the Council, all signs are on order and Bellway are awaiting delivery. The intention was to have the signs installed prior to the end of December however it is likely this will now roll over into the new year.

Highways Adoption (Eagle Rise & Aqua Verde)
The contractor has the details of what Essex Highways require before roads can be signed off for adoption and Bellway believe that the majority of those works have now been completed. Any outstanding remedial work will be completed early in the new year and there are also ongoing discussions about implementation of traffic calming measures.

However given the number of issues that still appear to be present, the Estates & Amenities Sub Committee may need to review the position and with the assistance of POD & the RMC, further challenge Bellway. Unfortunately if Essex Highways sign off the roads as suitable for adoption, it will be very hard to get Bellway back to change anything.

Footpaths Update

Further to information posted a month ago, and following further discussion with the City Council, we have some updates in relation to footpath infrastructure around the Channels development.

Bridleway (ERW to Eagle Rise)
The section of the bridleway from the point of connection with Eagle Rise to Essex Regiment Way is owned by a third party and not Countryside Zest.

The poor state of the bridleway has been noted and Essex County Council Highways are in discussion with the Public Rights of Way team with a view to laying limestone chipping on the 80m section of the bridleway route between Channels and the link to Beaulieu as a priority. This will provide a temporary hard surface and whilst the route will remain unlit, it should be possible to negotiate safely without getting covered in mud.

A Pegasus crossing is intended to be provided across Essex Regiment Way to connect the bridleway each side of the road. The crossing will see additional improvements to the bridleway route however this is unlikely to be delivered by Essex County Council until late 2020 at the earliest.

Footpath/Cyclepath to ERW Retail Units
Marden Homes are set to start work in January and envisage that the laying out of the Local Park (to the north of the Bellway development) will be a year long programme.

All stakeholders do however understand the urgency of opening an access path to the retail units on Essex Regiment Way for residents and progress will be monitored and reviewed each month to ensure it remains the priority for delivery. The new path is likely to be ready Spring 2020.

Channels/Beaulieu Links
Countryside Zest have made available a marked-up plan which shows the strategic footpaths/cyclepaths (primary and secondary) to be delivered through Beaulieu, including the connections to Channels.

This still does not provide a definitive timeline for all links and as such this is an area for which we will continue to push for further clarity.

Andrew Wright
Chair, Channels Residents Community Group

Footpaths Update

Following on from protracted correspondence with Countryside, Planning Officers and City Councillors, a meeting with representatives from Countryside and the City Council finally took place on Tuesday 19th November to discuss the footpath links between Channels & Beaulieu.

We walked around the Beaulieu site and were shown where new key links from Channels would be provided including whether these would be primary (hard surfaced and lit) or secondary (gravel and unlit).

Unfortunately it transpired that residents of Channels will have to endure the majority of the winter months with the only access to and from Beaulieu being via a dark and muddy bridleway or dark gravel paths.

Whilst there is recognition that the over-arching planning for joining up the developments could/should have been dealt with better, there is very little that can be done to resolve the current situation.

The pathway that leads from Niblick Green (parallel to the existing bridleway and past the new play park) should have been hard surfaced and lit around the time the play park opened in June 2019. However there have been significant technical issues experienced with the buff tarmac in other areas of Beaulieu (and Channels) and as such this part of the project has had to be re-specified, re-approved and re-scheduled. Had the path been hard surfaced and lit in line with the original timescale, there would have only been a relatively short section of gravel path to negotiate between hard, lit footpath & cycle ways.

Countryside will prepare a detailed mark-up plan, including all key links between Channels and Beaulieu, which will show the status of each route (primary/secondary) and the timescales for delivery.

The City Council Planning representative will also be assisting us in liaising with Essex Highways with a view to bark being laid along the most muddy section of the bridleway to ease access from the footpath connection at the western end of Eagle Rise across to the deer structure at Beaulieu.

We have spent considerable time, engaged a number of key stakeholders and explored every possible avenue in an attempt to improve the current situation. However it would appear that due to the complex phasing of the Beaulieu build, some technical problems that have been encountered and a number of additional ecological considerations, residents will have to continue navigating dark and muddy paths for the next few months when heading to and from Beaulieu.

The good news is that by the Spring/early Summer of 2020, there will be a much improved network of both primary and secondary routes for walking/cycling which will facilitate safe & easy movement to, from and around Beaulieu without the need to jump in a car.

Lastly a key meeting between Ptarmigan Land, landscape architects and Marden Homes is due to take place later this week. Marden Homes is responsible for delivering and laying out the open spaces north of Channels Drive including the local park through which a footpath will be provided to the roadside services on Essex Regiment Way. Once this meeting has taken place, there will be greater clarity on timescales for delivery of this key path.