Woods Lane in Melton is to be closed for 4 weeks in November and 12 weeks in early 2018. The following is a message from Suffolk County Council:
As you may know, Bloor Homes successfully applied, after appeal, for planning permission to build 186 new homes on a new development adjacent to Woods Lane. Suffolk Coastal District Council was the planning authority in this case.
The development was granted permission at appeal, meaning Bloor Homes legally has the right to proceed with it. This includes connecting utilities, such as gas, electricity and water, to the development.
Bloor Homes has therefore applied for the road closure in two parts:
• Phase 1: 6 Nov – 30 Nov
• Phase 2: 8 Jan – 13 April 2018
The closure will be removed throughout December as is standard procedure around the Christmas period.
The first closure will be to construct new footpaths, bus stops and prepare for the more substantial works after Christmas. The second closure will be to install 500 metres of sewer pipes and connections, running beneath the middle of Woods Lane, at a depth of two metres. They will also be giving utility companies the opportunity to make their own connections. It is an enormous undertaking which will make the road impassable, and for this reason the road will be completely closed and a traffic light-managed one-way system cannot be implemented.
As the Highways Authority, Suffolk County Council has to consider applications for such works to be carried out, and has influence over the length of time allowed. However we cannot unreasonably refuse permission, because the developer has a legal right to proceed with the development, and we could very well lose a case if taken to court. Our only recourse is therefore to work with the developer, putting pressure on them to complete the work as quickly as possible, limiting impact as much as possible and creating the most appropriate diversion, as possible. This is what we have done.
We have granted permission on the basis that the work must be completed by 13 April, with no possibility of an extension unless there are extreme and unavoidable circumstances. We have insisted the developer’s contractor carrying out the work do longer hours each day, and work at weekends, at their own cost. And we will be making regular on site inspections to ensure the work is progressing as scheduled.
Please see attached for details of the planned diversion route. When approving proposals, we have to consider the appropriateness of the roads, and the shortest suitable route. By their very nature these are never ideal, but best endeavours are made to find the most sensible alternative. Bus operators and emergency services have been made aware of the diversion route and given the opportunity to raise any issues they may have. However, in light of the concerns which have been raised, we are going to contact the services again to ensure they are fully aware and able to make alternative arrangements.
I know this is going to have an impact on people’s lives, but I hope this information will help to explain why it is happening, who is responsible for it, and what Suffolk County Council is doing within our legal duties to limit impact on residents and users of the highway.
Bloor Homes is the developer and Palmer Fencing Ltd is responsible for the traffic management on the closure and diversion. Their telephone number is 01473 834 960 if you have any further questions or comments for them. However, please let me know if the Parish Council or any residents have any further questions for the County Council. I will be keeping a close eye on this matter myself.
Andrew Reid, County Councillor Wilford Division