Channels Drive Roundabout


Residents will be aware that there have been discussions over the last couple of years about improving the look of the Channels Drive Roundabout, which is the main entrance point to the various localities that form the wider Channels development.

Historically the roundabout has been left unattended and has looked untidy and for the last year Channels Estates have been keeping the grass cut at their cost. There were initial discussions with the City Council, Marden Homes & Channels Estates almost two years ago about the possibility of the roundabout being planted (via sponsorship) to be in keeping with some of the other roundabouts in the surrounding area.

The good news is that after continued pestering and chasing, the City Council (in conjunction with Highways) have now given agreement in principle for the roundabout to be sponsored. This is conditional on the planting largely replicating that of the next roundabout along the RDR, some key paperwork being submitted and confirmation that the sponsors will continue to fund the ongoing maintenance.

The next step is for Channels Estates to arrange a Road Safety Audit with the Essex Highways Road safety Team and this is already underway. Once the Road Safety Audit is agreed, Channels Estates will formally apply to Chelmsford City Council to sponsor the roundabout and if successful with their application, the planting can take place.

At present Marden Homes are likely to fund the cost of the initial planting (which is hoped to take place in the Autumn) with Channels Estates taking over the ongoing maintenance costs. There will be no impact on residents, other than a much smarter roundabout to be proud of on the approach to Channels! It has taken some time however it was worth pursuing 🙂

Beaulieu Development Update

An update from Countryside covering the Beaulieu Development can be viewed/downloaded here.

Given that Beaulieu borders Channels, it’s useful to keep up to date with what’s going on and the update also contains some information about the Boreham Interchange works which are part of the wider plan leading to the RDR being opened in 2022.

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

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

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.

Community Update

Footpaths
There has been continued discussion with local stakeholders (Chelmsford City Council, Countryside & Ptarmigan Land) about the fact that residents of Channels have no hard, lit, access to and from the development by foot either down to Essex Regiment Way or across to Beaulieu.

As a result of information received from the above stakeholders over recent weeks, which sadly confirmed that we would indeed be stuck for another winter with the same situation, a meeting was held with City Councillor Barry Knight so that he could see first hand (in the dark) the issues that we face. He agreed that it was far from ideal and that he would not be happy with the situation if he lived on the development.

Cllr Knight has lobbied on our behalf and a further meeting will now take place with planners and Countryside to explore whether a re-phasing of works can be agreed which could potentially see a hard, lit path extend from Niblick Green much earlier than the planned implementation date of May 2020. In addition Ptarmigan Land are working with Marden Homes (who are responsible for building the open spaces on the other side of Channels Drive) with a view to accelerating the installation of a hard lit path to and from the retail units on Essex Regiment Way.

It has taken a great deal of persistence to get this far and there is still no guarantee that matters will improve however the Estates & Amenities Sub Committee will take this action forward and do its best to secure better access for all off of the development.

Bus Issues
It has become apparent that there are issues with the 51 Bus Service again with many reports of buses breaking down or not turning up. It is important that if there is an issue that you continue to log it via the website so that evidence can be collated and presented to the organisation that is responsible for managing the contract with First Bus. There is now an option added to cover the scenario of the bus breaking down!

For those that have been waiting for it, the ‘real time’ bus display board is due for installation at the bus stop on Friday 1st November.

Community Fundraising
Other than securing grants when available, the Community Group is reliant on the goodwill of residents to continue with its activities. This could include helping out with the running of community events or fundraising for specific projects such as benches on our land.

The CRCG now has a Paypal account and as such if residents wish to assist with fundraising via donations, it’s easy to do so!

Channels Fountain
Our fountain is back and running again! Unfortunately despite much investigation, it is still unclear why the water level dropped so much and then did not refill, despite the extensive amount of rainfall that has led to other ponds and swales retain plenty of water. Bellway do believe that there is a link with the draining of the main lake however we will need to to monitor the situation over the coming months.

For now enjoy the fountain 🙂

Street Name Change

Further to comments raised in relation to confusing street names at the entrance to the development following the road layout change, Bellway has approached Chelmsford City Council (as street naming authority) with a proposal to amend them.

Currently anyone driving into the development has to turn right off of Fairway Drive to continue on Fairway Drive into Eagle Rise. The proposed change is to rename the section of road from the roundabout to the entrance of the development as Brassie Wood. The area in question is shown hatched in red on the image below:

As part of the legal process, a notice advertising the proposed change is due to appear on-site Thursday 26th September.

Subject to consideration of comments received, the process should be complete in November and Bellway will arrange for the street nameplates to be updated and moved to accommodate the change.

Highways: RDR Timeline

Further to a number of questions from residents and based on information received from Countryside, the timescale for completion of the Radial Distributor Road (“RDR”), which is planned to run from Essex Regiment Way to the Boreham Interchange, is as follows:

RDR Phase 1 (through Channels)
Completed

RDR Phase 2a and 2b
Construction from May 2019, due for completion June 2020

Boreham Interchange Works
Completed by September 2020 (subject to approval by Highways England)

Generals Lane Bridge Demolition
Completed by January 2021

RDR Phase 3
Construction from May 2021, due for completion September 2021

A pdf version of the above image and key dates can be found here.