AN alternative to Hereford’s proposed link road  has been submitted ahead of a public inquiry into compulsory purchase orders Herefordshire Council needs to make its chosen route happen.

Today (Mon), Herefordshire Council’s Independent group went public with a concept of its own based on the city's existing road network - without the need for extensive compulsory purchase.

A case for the alternative will be put to the inquiry underway on April 23.

The council needs 130 compulsory purchase orders to secure sites it needs for the link between Commercial Road and Edgar Street.

Cash to cover compulsory purchase is contained within the overall £27m budget for the link road, funded through a combination of capital receipts from the sale of council-owned land, third party contributions including external grant funding and further borrowing on top of a £218m debt.

The Independents  say their scheme offers “significant savings" and benefits wider than those of the present plan in relieving traffic flow on the A438 along Newmarket Street and Blue School Street and bottlenecks on the  A49 and the northern boundary along the A4103.

Key elements of the Independent alternative are:

• Traffic flow enhancement at the roundabout at the Newtown Road/A49 junction (as proposed scheme).

• Removal/replacement  of the narrow bridge on the A49 on Newtown Road, with  carriageway widening and the provision of cycleways and footways.

• Additional north/western left turn lane at the mini roundabout on the A49 Holmer Common Junction.

• Replacing the bridge over the railway on the A4103 near the VW garage, widening the carriageway to include two lanes, providing footways, cycleways and removing the traffic lights.

• Provision of short local routes into the ESG proposed urban village: northwards from Blackfriars Street, westwards from Widemarsh Street and from Station Approach in the north.

• Improving the cross city routes for emergency vehicles and public transport along Blackfriars Street, Coningsby Street.

• A high level pedestrian walkway across Newmarket Street linking the historic city with the new retails zone.

• Improvement to the public realm in Commercial Road using existing highway land.

In this, the Independents see advantages as:

• Reduction in traffic flow on Newmarket Street.

• Using existing “A” Class highway network.

• Improving existing network for all road users.

• Removing severe pinch points on the existing A49/A4103 network.

• Removing existing restriction on the A49 at a narrow bridge.

• Providing footways on both sides of the A49 at the location of a wider bridge on the A49(T).

• Improving traffic flow on the A4103 at a realigned railway bridge.

• Providing footways and cycleways where none exist at present at the location of the wider bridge on the A4103.

• No need for an additional junction on the A49 in Edgar Street and removes a right turn movement across A49 (T) traffic flow in Edgar Street.

• Does not require an increased right turn movement across A465 flow in Commercial Road.

• Takings north/south bound county wide traffic flow west of the city centre.

• Reducing traffic flows along Aylestone Hill within the urban area.

• Providing a potential link northwards towards the proposed South Western Relief Road along the existing network.  

• No disruption of access  to the proposed Urban Village which can still be provided with links from Blackfriars Street, Widemarsh Street and possibly Station Approach.

• No obstruction of cross town links for emergency vehicles and public transport.

• Protecting cyclists and pedestrians from conflict with traffic which would arise using a cross city “A” road link between the A49(T) and A465.

• Substantially reducing project cost and such an extensive CPO as the Link Road would be unlikely.  Furthermore, the current Link Road CPO seems to have a land take well beyond the road corridor.

Independent group leader Councillor Sebastian Bowen said it was clear from the objections to the Orders - recorded in the Council's own statement to thev inquiry - that there was “significant unease” about loss of business premises should the order scheme proceed.

“In a compulsory purchase order scheme it is a matter for the order making authority to demonstrate that there is a compelling case in the public interest for confirmation of the Order, this normally requires work on all reasonable alternative options before committing such a large amount of public money and causing disruption to businesses and lifestyle,” said Cllr Bowen.

“The Orders for the Link Road scheme should not be confirmed until all other reasonable options have been investigated and determined to be unsuitable,” he said.