A notorious junction described as ‘a nightmare’, ‘horrendous’ and ‘the worst place in Grantham’ is to remain unchanged until after the bypass is completed.
Plans to create a safer crossing for pedestrians at the junction of South Parade, Bridge End Road, Springfield Road and London Road have been put on hold, in order to see first how the Southern Quadrant link road will affect traffic flow in the area.
The creation of a pedestrian refuge on South Parade was a planning obligation approved back in 2004 as part of the application for residential and commercial developments at Springfield Business Park.
However, in light of work starting on the east-west bypass – expected to take at least three years to complete – the planned refuge has been identified as ‘outdated’ and an application approved to modify the proposals.
In a report to South Kesteven District Council’s development control committee, Lincolnshire County Council’s highways department stated: “Due to the recently approved planning permission for the southern relief road, the works as previously approved in the section 106 agreement would be abortive, and hence not in the public interest over the short and medium term.”
Presented with this report on February 24, the majority of the district committee agreed that a deed of variation to modify the planning obligation should be completed, meaning that the developers, a consortium of Taylor Wimpey East Midlands and Persimmon Homes East Midlands, will instead pay a financial contribution to the highways authority of £15,000 in lieu. This is the estimated cost of the currently approved works, and the money will now go towards a wider improvement scheme at the junction after the bypass has been completed and its effect on the junction’s traffic flow has been assessed.
This decision has not been welcomed by pedestrians who regularly have to brave traffic coming from all directions at the junction, and are seen either running across or standing precariously in the middle of the road. Tinnino Mole, 18, who works at Pizza Hut’s front-of-house, said: “It is the worst place in Grantham to cross. It is so dangerous.”
Out walking her dog, Jayne Lewis, 55, said: “It is horrendous. If they need a reason to change it sooner, they should think about the mothers and little children in pushchairs. You see them running just to get across safely.”
After dashing across herself, McDonald’s employee Sally Somer, 55, of Walton Gardens, said: “It’s a nightmare, and it’s just got worse since they created the new lane. When you’re trying to cross there are cars all over.”
‘A nightmare’ was also the term used by 42-year-old man who prefered to remain anonymous, who was out walking his black labrador cross Mya. He said: “When they did the roadworks last time I thought there was going to be a zebra crossing. It doesn’t help that you get idiots speeding down from Aldi.”
He added: “I helped an elderly lady cross the road the other week and like she said, it’s going to take someone being run over before they do anything about it.”
Sheree King, 52, makes the trip from her home in the Brambles between two and three times a week. On the way to cross it again with her daughter, she said: “It is scary – you don’t know which direction to look.”
Tomas Balazik, 33, was walking back with his six-year-old daughter Sarah from St Anne’s School. He said: “They had all those roadworks last year when they could have made a safer crossing, but they did nothing about it.”
However some of the surrounding businesses are pleased that the decision does at least mean there will not be more roadworks at the junction imminently, after suffering loss of trade last time.
Press Gang’s Libby Simpson said: “We’ve had three major closures at this junction recently. If they closed it again it would start to feel personal.” At the same time Mrs Simpson recognises the need for an improved crossing, although she thinks there is a far simpler solution which would not require further disruptive roadworks. “All you need to do is alter the times of the lights changing to allow pedestrians to cross. It’s not difficult.”
Ms Somer also recognised that there would be an effect to McDonald’s with more roadworks, but said: “It would be worth it, as we lose business now from people not wanting to have to cross over.”
In response, Mark Heaton, area highways manager, said: “We’re aware of support for a pedestrian crossing on Bridge End Road at the junction with South Parade and London Road. Once the Grantham bypass is completed we expect this to have an impact on traffic flow through the town. We will assess the new traffic patterns before any decisions on this junction and its further redesign, including pedestrian crossing facilities are made.”
Asked when this is likely to be, Mr Heaton added: “At this moment in time, we cannot give a timeframe for a pedestrian crossing being built on Bridge End Road. When we do review a junction, we always look at pedestrian safety, and bearing in mind the location, it is probable that some form of crossing will be created at this junction.”
Calling for a crossing sooner is county councillor for the area Coun Charmaine Morgan. She said: “It is not good enough. LCC have a responsibility to provide safe pedestrian crossings, and they are failing.
“At the Grantham Highways Strategic Review I specifically said we need to make the provision for pedestrians at that junction a top priority.”
Coun Morgan has started a petition to get a pedestrian crossing installed sooner.