New traffic lights could be put in at the Waterside Theatre roundabout and part of Aylesbury’s gyratory system closed if plans for 3,000 homes are given the green light.
In light of new proposals to mitigate against increased traffic as a result of the Hampden Fields development, Bucks County Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council have now withdrawn their transport objections to the application, a bitter blow for campaigners against the development.
Developers want to build 3,000 homes between Bedgrove and Weston Turville and, although the plan was originally thrown out by the district council, it is now being debated at appeal.
The changes to the gyratory and the Exchange Street/Walton Street roundabout have been submitted during the appeal, which opponents described as ‘undemocratic’.
Even if the Hampden Fields application is blocked at appeal, the fact the councils have agreed to the changes suggests it would be something they may consider in the future to deal with increased traffic in the town.
The section of the gyratory that would be closed is the link between Walton Street north and south by the Aristocrat pub.
Drivers would have to go down to the roundabout by the Waterside Theatre and come back up the other side of Walton Street if they wanted to get from Stoke Road to Wendover Road or Walton Road, where Aylesbury High School and Grammar School are based.
Richard Hutchings, representing the Hampden Fields consortium, told Bucks County Council this would have a ‘beneficial impact on the performance of the gyratory’.
However, there were concerns that the change would have a negative impact on the theatre roundabout as more drivers would be doing U-turns to get back up the other side of Walton Street.
It was therefore suggested the roundabout become fully signalised, which the developers’ representatives argued would prevent the area from ‘locking up’.
The central reservation along Walton Street would also be removed to allow for a third lane on the northbound side.
Errol Allen, a senior traffic systems technician at the county council, said in an internal email that he expects the roundabout and the re-designed gyratory ‘will cope with the demand flows’, adding: “I am therefore satisfied that this can be progressed to traffic signals design.”
In documents published on Wednesday, it was confirmed both the district and county councils had withdrawn their transport-based objections to Hampden Fields.
However, the district council is continuing to fight the development at the appeal.
Phil Yerby, from the Hampden Fields Action Group, said they would have preferred the councils maintained their transport objection.
Mr Yerby said: “If I was a developer I would be very pleased.
“It’s disappointing. For us it’s not a great thing, but it’s no surprise.
“The odds are always stacked against us, but we are going to continue to fight. We have still got a strong case.”
Mr Yerby said it was wrong for such significant changes to be introduced without any public consultation on the plans.
He said: “Had the inquiry finished at the agreed time this would never have been admissible.
“I’m disappointed Bucks County Council have bent over backwards to try to put the needs of the developer before the needs of residents.”
The county council said development can only be refused on transport grounds ‘where the residual cumulative impacts of development are severe’.
A decision on the planning appeal is not expected until next year.