Proposed Bypass for Hereford - update June 2018
Supporters of the proposed western bypass for Hereford have revealed their next steps. On Thursday July 19th the eight members of Herefordshire Council's ruling Cabinet (all Conservative) will do three things. Firstly they will consider the results of the Hereford Transport Plan consultation exercise held earlier this year. Secondly they will reveal their preferred bypass route from the seven that were shortlisted in the consultation. Finally they are expected to approve this preferred route and fund further work to develop it as well as a further statutory consultation on the preferred route. All the routes will involve demolishing peoples' homes along Kings Acre Road - and possibly elsewhere - as well as a bridge across the River Wye Special Area of Conservation which is supposed to have the highest form of environmental protection. The Cabinet meeting is a public meeting in the Shire Hall - open to everyone - and many objectors are expected to attend. Please come along and make your voices heard.
The feeling is that when the consultation is over Herefordshire Council will give itself planning permission later in 2018 so that when the Council elections are held again in May 2019 it can present the western bypass as a 'done deal' which cannot be stopped. The anticipated costs continue to rise - now over £200m? - and despite statements to the contrary, no Government money what so ever has yet been secured to build the proposed bypass.
If the bypass is to go ahead, what is known as the Southern Link Road has to be built first. This is planned to run from the A49 Ross Road at the Rotherwas roundabout across open countryside, crossing the railway line on a high level bridge before reaching the A465 Abergavenny Road at the Clehonger junction close to Belmont Abbey. Its route will cut through the ancient Grafton Wood and significantly damage the peaceful setting of Haywood Lodge, a listed building that originated as a royal hunting lodge for the medieval forests south of Hereford itself.
Despite the many objections Herefordshire Council gave itself planning permission to build the road last year. However it has not been able to agree compensation with a number of local land owners along the route so, under the compulsory purchase process, there will now be an Inquiry. CPRE Herefordshire plan to attend but the date has not yet been set. This process may well delay any start on the Link Road.
The Link Road was supposed to be combined with other sustainable transport measures for South Wye including walking and cycling but will the budget allow for these? Other major issues to resolve include the removal and disposal of all the waste from the road's excavations and its replacement by materials geologically suitable for the embankments and bridge supports. There will be many, many HGV trips involved - a cause of concern locally.
CPRE Herefordshire opposed both roads on the basis that they will not solve Hereford's transport problems, they are a huge waste of scarce public money that could be put to better use and that they will do irreparable damage to the county's landscape. At a time when we should be conserving high grade agricultural land and concerned about 'Dark Skies', these roads do exactly the opposite. Our opposition is supported by Campaign for the Protection of Rural England National Office, the Campaign for Better Transport and the Local Green Party. Local groups of volunteers campaigning against the roads include the Hereford Transport Alliance, Hereford Transport Forum, Here for Hereford and WyeRuinit. They would all welcome more people to help so if you are concerned about this plan do get involved!