Report number: OAS/WS/21/016
The Committee received report number OAS/WS/21/016, which sought potential solutions on the impact of the Eastern Relief Road and A14, J45 on the Moreton Hall residential area, by means of convening a Councillor Call for Action (CCfA) Hearing.
CCfA came into force on 1 April 2009 and provided a mechanism whereby any Member of the Council may refer to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee any local government or crime and disorder matter which affected their ward or division.
On 10 June 2021, the Committee had resolved to refer the Councillor Call for Action (CCfA) submission presented by Councillor Trevor Beckwith to a CCfA Hearing on 2 September 2021. The purpose of the Hearing was to seek a potential solution to the problems being encountered by residents.
The following documentation was attached to the report:
Appendix A: CCfA Meeting Plan detailing the sequential order of speakers and witnesses
Appendix 1: Councillor Beckwith’s completed CCfA request form, in accordance with the District Council’s CCfA protocol;
Appendix 2: CCfA SCC post meeting letter – 5 October 2018
Appendix 3: CCfA Complaint against SCC
Appendix 4: CCfA Stage 1 response and email exchange
Appendix 5: CCfA SCC final response to complaint
Appendix 6: CCfA Map
Appendix 7: Written report from SCC officers
Appendix 8: Photographic evidence provided by (witness)
The Committee was informed that as this was the first CCfA Hearing undertaken by West Suffolk Council, a set procedure would be followed.
The Committee would gather as much information as possible from a variety of organisations and witnesses who had been involved with the issue with the focus on attempting to reach a potential resolution to the problem. The meeting plan, attached as Appendix A, had been prepared using the CCfA protocol and the procedural order of the Hearing followed this plan.
Having welcomed all speakers and witnesses to the Hearing, the Chair asked Councillor Beckwith to explain to the Committee his reasons for instigating the CCfA. Councillor Beckwith provide the following statement to the Committee.
Councillor Trevor Beckwith’s opening statement:
As some members of the Committee would not be familiar with the area, Councillor Beckwith referred members to the annotated map, attached at Appendix 6 to help clarify the narrative.
In September 2017, the £15m Eastern Relief Road (ERR) was opened, funded by the former Council (St Edmundsbury Borough Council), Suffolk County Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.
At the official opening, a speaker said, “it will also bring much wider benefits to our families and communities for years to come, relieving some of the local congestion and providing better access to The Sybil Andrews Academy and community leisure facilities that were based there”. I fully support that aspiration and deeply regret that the wider benefits to our families and communities had not worked out. Along with local residents I hope to demonstrate what was needed to restore residential amenity to that enjoyed before the ERR opened.
The project incurred a £4.5m overspend, due mainly to Highways England requirements for the upgrade of the A14 at Junction 45. This was important regarding today’s hearing of the Councillor Call for Action as J45 was to be and was supposed to be the access to the new road serving the 67-hectare business park.
The business park was expanding rapidly and was home to massive warehouse and distribution centres which generated significant heavy goods vehicle (HGV) movement. It was important to understand the proximity of the business part to the Moreton Hall residential area with its population of over 8,000 residents. Both the District and County Council had always considered the whole Moreton Hall area to be a single, mixed estate. Having consistently refuted this and did so formally as part of my complaint against SCC. Their response agreed that the residential and residential and retail/commercial elements were not mixed, and that Bedingfield Way and Skyliner Way provided a clear divide.
Despite major improvements made to J45, large numbers of HGV’s were legally using Orttewell Road that bisects the residential area and also J44 via Bedingfield Way and Skyliner Way.
On Orttewell Road there was an old arched rail bridge, which prior to 2005, received several strikes from HGVs, despite height restriction road signs. Each strike required the bridge to be inspected and/or repaired. SCC therefore decided to make the road under the bridge single-way working controlled by three-way traffic signals. This was good news for HGVs but not for residents and commuters who were now subjected to long delays with tailbacks on all three converging roads with a particularly serious situation on Compiegne Way (A143) where traffic queues on the highway and around the roundabout. A short distance away was the North East Bury development site where 1,400 dwellings would feed into this congested area.
Heading south along Orttewell Road, from the rail bridge through a residential area involved a steep uphill gradient with HGV’s moving off from a standing start, in a low gear and at a slow speed, all of which contributed to excessive pollution and noise. HGVs had to negotiate two roundabouts, one at the Mount Road junction and a smaller one at the Symonds Road junction. The sight of 44-foot trucks negotiating these roundabouts in a residential area next to a busy sports field and children’s play park, next to an important walking and cycling route to a primary school was wrong.
Issues along Bedingfield Way were less straightforward as HGV’s needed to continue servicing access to the St Edmundsbury Retail Park, which included for example Sainsburys, Homebase, Currys, Dunelm Mill. However, as the Retail Park was completed several years ago there was no justification for the increase in HGV’s using Bedingfield Way. As a resident, I am directly affected and like others, accepted that the level of HGVs visiting the Retail Park was justified but we do not accept the increase in vehicles heading to and from the Business Park by using J44 to leave the A14. The noise was exacerbated by vehicles riding over the small, raised centre circle which served as a roundabout at the Easlea Road junction.
Attached at Appendix 3 to the report was the formal complaint submitted to SCC which was rejected. However, the following conclusion from the SCC Director was brought to the Committees attention:
“In conclusion, whilst I do not question the impact of HGVs and other traffic congestion in the Moreton Hall area, I am satisfied that our published transport strategies (Bury St Edmunds Transport Strategy and Suffolk’s Local Transport Plan 2011 to 2031) address these and disagree that there are other interventions the council should be undertaking. Unfortunately, the solutions you have put forward are not achievable given current budget constraints and would not necessarily be in line with the published strategies”.
Councillor Beckwith referred to the Bury St Edmunds Transport Strategy (page 52), which included the following information on Orttewell Road:
Challenges: Pinch point at the rail bridge.
Possible solutions:Replace bridge (Network Rail states this will not happen). Restrict access to cars and vans. This would enable two-way flows to be introduced.
The SCC Director stated in their response (Appendix 5) that solutions proposed were not achievable, but they were in accordance with their own Transport Strategy.
Councillor Beckwith then set out the solutions being proposed as follows:
- Introducing a weight restriction on Orttewell Road would relieve residents of the impact of a number of HGVs and would allow the rail bridge to be reopened to a normal two-way traffic flow. This would not only deal with the current congestion but would also mitigate the increase from the 1,400 new dwellings.
- Signs directing HGVs to J45 should have been in place from the beginning. Highways England would consider signage on the A14 once funding was identified. The estimated cost for two signs bore J43 and J44 would be around £40k, including the Traffic Regulation Orders etc. The cost could be reduced by incorporating it with scheduled works.
- Signs within the Business Park, directing HGVs to J45, where internal roads join the ERR. Cameras to ensure compliance should also be considered.
These proposed measures would ensure that HGVs remained on the A14 trunk road or other A-class roads.
The Business Park and the residential estate were neighbours, and everything should have been done to ensure a peaceful co-existence. When families were being subjected to so much negative impact, the obvious question was why it had been left to residents, their Ward Members and West Suffolk Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee to resolve. This situation should have been anticipated and addressed long before such a major project was undertaken.
All residents, including Councillor Beckwith were asking for measures to ensure that J45 of the A14 became the only HGV access to the ERR.
This Committee does not have the powers to make decisions, but it could make recommendations to relevant partners, and Councillor Beckwith hoped the Committee was able to support the proposed solutions. Thank you Chair.
In response to a question raised by the Committee regarding Appendix 7 (written report from SCC officers), Councillor Beckwith informed the Committee that their written report was addressing a number of points not raised in the CCfA. Councillor Beckwith stated he had not raised any planning issues apart from the North-East Bury development. He confirmed that he could approach Parish Councils to progress raising a Traffic Regulation Order but felt he should not be the one trying to resolve these issues.
Suffolk County Council: Kerry Allen, Principal Transport Planner and Clive Wilkinson, Project Engineer
Kerry Allen informed the Committee, as set out in the written report (Appendix 7), there had been ongoing correspondence with Councillor Beckwith. SCC wants to continue work to progress any transport issues in Moreton Hall, but this was ultimately down to funding.
In relation to pursuing the Traffic Regulation Order, Councillor Beckwith was able to do this by working with the Parish Council and SCC. However, the fundamental issue with the TRO was it would be subject to extensive consultation and might cause issues on other unsuitable road and could be difficult to enforce and might lead to a number of local objections. We also do not know what level of impact a TRO would have on the rest of the community, and all of these issues would need to be considered.
Suffolk County Council: Clive Wilkinson, Project Engineer
Clive Wilkinson informed the Committee that there was signage within the estate guiding vehicles to the A14, Junction 45.
In response Councillor Beckwith stated that there were no signs on the A14 coming east bound before J43 to J44 advising to use J45 for the SBP, and there were no signs to the best of his knowledge within the SBP.
In response Clive Wilkinson confirmed that there were no signs on the A14 itself but there were signs indicating the North/South zones. However, at the approach to J45 from the west of the county there were signs indicating “industrial estate”.
In response to a question raised as to whether there was any monitoring of HGV movements, and any evidence for pollution and noise levels along Orttewell Road, Kerry Allen advised that the responsibility of monitoring air quality and air quality management rested with West Suffolk Council. Furthermore, Kerry Allen advised that she did not think there was a receptor along Orttewell Road and agreed to look into that further.
Councillor Birgitte Mager, Ward Member, Moreton Hall
As a newly elected councillor to Moreton Hall, Councillor Mager was deeply concerned that residents were not being heard in respect of this ongoing issue. There was an ageing population in Bury St Edmunds. Moreton Hall had recorded one of the longest life expectancies, yet there were large expansion plans, for example a new hospital which would need younger people to ensure its viability and prosperity. Mental health was a growing concern, and it was well known that noise pollution greatly exacerbates this grave problem. When you have families complaining that their children cannot get a reasonable night’s sleep because lorries decide not to use the most suitable roads, we must act.
Councillor Mager urged the Committee to listen to resident’s complaints as part of the hearing and to take them seriously. It is very clear that whatever was built was no longer good enough. We have quite simply become a prisoner of our success. The Moreton Hall housing and Industrial Estate had flourished, but with it, it had exacerbated problems of rising noise pollution.
Councillor Mager urged the Committee to find a way to improve the lives of the Moreton Hall residents so that when the Prime Minister tells us we will build Britain back better, we ensure that we do so.
Nic Rumsey, Managing Director for Jaynic
Nic Rumsey, Managing Director for Jaynic thanked the Chair and members for the invite to make a statement on behalf of Jaynic.
Mr Rumsey explained that the ERR was designed by West Suffolk Council and was developed before Jaynic was involved with the Suffolk Park (SP). To date the SP had seen more development than the Suffolk Business Park (SBP).
All of Jaynic’s marketing promotes the use of the A14, and sub-contractors were told to use J45. The issue was when drivers put the postcode into the satnav, the journey route would automatically take you to J44 and not J45. Therefore, somehow Google needed to change their routing instructions.
Jaynic had asked Highways England if they would look at resigning SP. If it was felt that further signage was required in Jaynic’s part of the Business Park, Jaynic would be prepared to make a financial contribution towards improved signs.
Jaynic had not carried out a traffic count of HGVs, but traffic travelling along the road into the SP was minimal.
In summing up, Mr Rumsey felt signage was the best solution in directing HGV traffic to J45. However, a comprehensive traffic count needed to be carried out, which would then show where traffic was going too, and coming from. Thank you Chair.
Matt Cloe, Development Director for Churchmanor Estates Company plc:
Matt Cloke, the Development Director for Churchmanor Estates, and the developer of Suffolk Business Park thanked the Chair and members for the invite and to make a statement on behalf of the Churchmanor Estates Company in relation to the Call for Action raised by Cllr Beckwith.
Firstly, we fully agree with Cllr Beckwith in that we would expect HGV traffic travelling to or from Suffolk Business Park (SBP) to use J45 of the A14 where at all possible, or at least an appropriate route. The potential occupiers we speak to all tell us the location of SBP immediately adjacent to J45, and from there via the A14 onwards to Felixstowe and the national motorway network, was a key attraction.
However, it was important to note that whilst various planning consents had been granted, due to the changing circumstances of the proposed occupiers, to date only one plot had been developed at SBP. Therefore, in any event the contribution of SBP to any increase in HGV traffic would to date, be exceptionally limited. The Committee had already heard from Jaynic about the current position at the Suffolk Park.
We have studied the information within Cllr Beckwith’s CCfA carefully. However, based on the information he had compiled, whilst it was not disputed HGVs were clearly passing through Moreton Hall, and those HGVs may well be causing disturbance and loss of amenity to residents, it was far from clear to us the destination or origin of the majority of those HGVs can be said with confidence to be either Suffolk Park or Suffolk Business Park.
Cllr Beckwith’s material focusses on the reason the ERR was created being the provision of access to SP/SBP. It must be remembered however that the opening up of this employment land was not the only reason the ERR was built, but one of a number of reasons. At the opening of the ERR, Councillor John Griffiths stated the benefits included:
· Opening up of Suffolk Business Park, Suffolk Park, the enterprise zone, and the creation of jobs
· The provision of access to 500 new homes
· Better access to the Sybil Andrews Academy, its associated leisure facilities, and the relief of local congestion
SCC’s response to Cllr Beckwith comparing traffic levels in 2013 and 2018 appears to suggest that the aim of relieving of local congestion and a reduction in the quantity of traffic on other local roads had, at least in part, been successful.
The ERR opened in September 2017, following planning permission for the final of version of the route in August 2014 and some 18 months of construction. It was unclear however from the information provided by Councillor Beckwith when the issue of increased HGV traffic within Moreton Hall first arose following the opening of the ERR. The first complaint from Councillor Beckwith to SCC appears to be some time in 2018. The first date we can find within the documents provided was contained within SCC’s post meeting letter of 5 October 2018, which referred to the meeting held on 24 September 2018, but there was reference in that letter to earlier (but undated) correspondence. We assume that in order to have got to that point by September 2018, the first complaints by residents to Councillor Beckwith must have been made some months before that point in time, but it would be helpful if the point could be clarified.
The first planning permission at Suffolk Business Park (for Festool) was granted in February 2018, with construction starting on site in April 2018, and completion not until May 2019. There was a condition requiring a construction traffic management plan, which (as approved) required construction traffic to access the site from J45. It was important also to remember the Festool premises was not a logistics building, but instead comprises offices, together with training and service facilities. Festool have told us that the vast majority of goods that were received and dispatched from the site were in light goods vehicles operated by courier firms such as DPD, and the maximum delivery vehicle size tended to be a small HGV of 7.5t.
At Suffolk Park, the timelines for the construction of the first of the large logistics units were similar we believe, with commencement of construction in mid-2018, and first occupation not until mid-2019. Similar construction traffic management conditions were imposed requiring construction traffic to access the site via J45.
Having reviewed Cllr Beckwith’s CCfA, the core assumption was the HGVs in question passing through Moreton Hall were travelling either to or from SP and SBP. However, on the information we have available to us there was a potential disconnect between the date at which HGV traffic was perceived to become a problem within Moreton Hall, and the date at which SB/SBP started generating traffic from occupiers.
It is possible the advent of problematic HGV traffic might actually pre-date commencement of construction at SP/SBP. This suggests at least a proportion of the HGVs in question were travelling to or from different locations. Some of the HGV photographs provided by Melanie Soanes at Appendix 8 depict vehicles of a type (such as the articulated tippers, the Hewicks Haulage tanker, and the Nisa vehicle) which we would be surprised to find were actually travelling to SB/SBP in conjunction with either construction or use of the business parks. Whilst of course the photographs were merely a small selection, it was our view nevertheless there was a key piece of data missing which was fundamental to finding an appropriate solution to the issue being raised by Councillor Beckwith, but which does not appear to have been mentioned so far as part of any potential solution.
Of the HGVs that are using Orttewell Road and Bedingfield Way, how many of them were actually accessing either SP or SBP, and how many of them were simply through traffic (perhaps to or from the A143 and A134) taking an inappropriate route to get to the A14 that their drivers consider more convenient.
How many of them had a bona fide destination within the Moreton Hall area? Indeed, how many are using the ERR at all?
Until there was clear, evidence based, data in relation to the actual nature of the problem, there was a considerable risk that any proposed solution would not address the root cause of the problem, be unenforceable or unworkable, or will unduly impact on necessary and appropriate HGV journeys.
It was Churchmanor’s view, taking into account the potential disconnect in timing mentioned above, that it was far from clear at this stage that the majority of the traffic in question was visiting SP or SBP, and taking into account the fact that the ERR was constructed for a variety of purposes (and not just exclusively for the development of SP/SBP), the lead for establishing the actual nature of the problem should be taken by the Highway Authority.
SCC’s view was clearly that the road network within Moreton Hall was, from a technical point of view at least, appropriate to be used by HGVs.
That was not a viewpoint we were qualified to comment on. However, this was, very obviously, an issue for residents. If following proper analysis to understand the root cause of the problem, it was decided action was needed to be taken to restrict the passage of HGVs through Moreton Hall, we would not object to straightforward, clear, and easily implemented controls.
There was a planning condition contained within Jaynic’s outline planning consent for Suffolk Park requiring the use of J45 by HGVs where reasonably possible. However, this condition had not been replicated in the permissions granted to date at SBP, and in any event we do not believe the planning system was the right method to effectively control HGV movements, as it would be largely unenforceable in any realistic way if it is contradictory to the rights of drivers in public highway terms to use the roads it is seeking to protect.
Whilst drivers based at SP and SBP could be instructed by their employers to only use J45, it would be very difficult to communicate planning restrictions to drivers who were employed by third party firms not based at SP/SBP, and who might visit the site once or very occasionally to collect or deliver goods. A situation as a result of planning conditions where roads through Moreton Hall could legitimately be used by any HGVs other than those accessing SP/SBP would be confusing, difficult to communicate, and impossible to enforce.
Our view was if a case was made for the control of HGVs travelling through Moreton Hall, the only realistic method of achieving this would be a Traffic Regulation Order imposing general restriction which applied to all HGVs enforced by an appropriate weight limit or similar restriction, with the usual exemption for vehicles with a bona fide need to access addresses within the restricted area. This would be clear, understood by all drivers, and capable of enforcement. We would have no objection to that, and it would appear to be in line with the advice already provided by SCC to Councillor Beckwith.
Robert Houlton-Hart, Secretary of Moreton Hall Residents’ Association
Good evening councillors. I have been secretary of Moreton Hall Residents Association since 2014 and live in Cranesbill Drive adjacent to Orttewell Road. The majority of complaints we receive are about traffic. Over the past three years there has been a noticeable increase in HGVS travelling through the middle of the residential area as well as complaints about the queues down Orttewell Road, which lead to the pinch point at the junction of Barton Road and Orttewell not forgetting the Railway Bridge single lane and the queues onto the A143.
Moreton Hall has expanded substantially over the past 40 years and has taken the majority of residential and commercial growth in the town especially in terms of housing and all types of business space. The recent major construction projects on Suffolk Park and the opening of large distribution warehouses have not helped the situation. Instead of accessing Moreton Hall via junctions 44 and 45, Orttewell Road is being used as a short cut with HGVs from the A134 Thetford and A143 Diss Great Yarmouth Roads cutting through.
Moreton Hall is divided into two distinct areas the residential areas as marked red and the commercial areas marked green on the plan. It is not or ever been a mixed area. The two parts are clearly defined. Orttewell Road runs in the centre of the residential area north to south with houses on the east and west sides. There are 11 residential roads adjacent to Orttewell Road which are particularly affected by the noise and clatter delivered by the HGVS from very early morning till early evening. The HGVS have to slow down for the roundabouts at the junctions of Orttewell and Mount Road and at the junctions of Cranesbill Drive and Symonds and Orttewell Roads. One of the main estates combined cycleways and footpaths comes out on just to the south of the roundabout by the signal-controlled pedestrian crossing. This cannot be good in terms of air pollution and quality of life.
It is appreciated that Roads, Highways and Traffic are a Suffolk County Council responsibility and indeed since 2016 the Residents Association had tried to engage with four different Cabinet Members prior to April 2021 without any success.
On the 5 March 2016 the Residents Association wrote to the then Cabinet Member for Highways Councillor Finch outlining our concerns about the increase in traffic and back up of traffic at J44.
I quote exactly from his reply dated 7 June 2016 “Bury St Edmunds Borough Council has identified significant housing growth for the town up to 2031 with 500 houses in Moreton Hall; this will result in increased traffic levels, however assessments undertaken for the local plan and in detailed development related plan and then indicate. that with appropriate mitigation measures the road network can accommodate growth
At that stage I would ask What mitigation measures took place.?
In April 2018 we wrote again to the relevant cabinet member Councillor Storey pointing out that despite the recent opening of junction 45 the congestion at junction 44 was as bad as ever and very little HGV traffic was using the new road. One of our residents who lives closest Orttewell Road had undertaken detailed research into the number and types of vehicles using Orttewell Road and passed this information onto the County Council and the specific question was asked “What steps will the county be undertaking to reduce the size and weight of HGVS using this (Orttewell) Road”. There was no response.
There was a meeting held in September 2018 with Kerry Allen when these issues were discussed, and questions answered but no permanent solutions offered. The next cabinet member Councillor Evans attended a Residents Association Committee meeting in November 2018 in response to our approach. A response was received from Kerry Allen Principal Transport Planner at Suffolk County Council in March 2019 on Councillor Evans behalf with details of the number of vehicles using both Orttewell Road and Rougham Tower Avenue as at 2018. For Orttewell Road the figure was 272 over a 24-hour period. For Rougham Tower Avenue the figure was 3,539 vehicles on a weekday. How many of these were HGVS? A local resident who would be speaking later this evening had undertaken a count of HGVs using Orttewell Road showing there were four HGVs every 15 minutes. This was equivalent to 384 HGVs over a 24-hour period.
The Residents Association had been in contact with Councillor Reid the previous cabinet member prior to the May 2021 election, and raised two issues:
1) With a number of heavy goods vehicles passing through the town and Moreton Hall, can we change the signage on the A14 to get vehicles off early instead of coming onto the estate? The response was that there was a review of the County wide HGV network underway both technical and community led. The community led consultation was due during the summer of this year 2021. Air pollution was raised, and the response was, we work in lockstep with district councils on this and all policies going forward consider this leading to achieving carbon neutrality active travel measures and encouraging cycling and walking. Moreton Hall has the best cycle ways and footpaths and is home to some 8,000 people.
2) Concerned with HGVs using a residential area as a short cut instead of using the A Trunk Road network. Access to the Moreton Hall business parks should be from the A14 and HGVs despite being legally entitled should not be using Orttewell Road unless serving the local businesses around Lawson Place.
Mr Houlton-Hart pointed out that as part of the outline planning consent for the New Business Park coloured purple on the plan, Application Number DC/16/2825/OUT condition B36 was attached to the consent, and quoted:
“In so far as is practicable all vehicles 7.5 tonnes and over serving any business on the hereby approved site shall use J45 of the A14 if it is available when exiting the A14 unless otherwise agreed in writing with the Local Planning Authority”.
Reason: To make large vehicles avoid accessing the site hereby approved by using part of the highway network which goes next to residential properties.
My question to West Suffolk as the planning authority is what action is being taken to ensure the planning conditions are met? It is obvious that this condition was attached to protect the residential areas of Moreton Hall as there are no other housing areas close by.
In February 2021 as a result of increased concerns the Residents Association undertook a survey of some 400 houses across the 11 roads closest to Orttewell Road on both the east and west sides, marked yellow on the plan and asked 5 specific questions
1) Have you noticed more HGVs using residential roads on Moreton Hall during the last year? 78% said yes.
2) Are you disturbed by vehicle noise in your home during the during both day and night? 60% said yes.
3) Do you think congestion at Orttewell Road/Barton Road is worse, better or the same? 78% said yes.
4) Would you support a weight restriction on HGVs for the entire length of Orttewell Road? 75 % said yes.
5) Do you have one suggestion to improve control of HGVs? Better signage on and off the A14 and directions to specific Industrial estate and Business Parks.
There were also several comments about the future traffic in the light of the proposed development of 1,400 houses at Cattishall Development and the possible impact at the junction of Barton Road. Several residents suggested a link road off the A143 crossing the railway line and linking up with junction 45.
One interesting comment from the survey was, “Lorry drivers from A 134 and A143 use Orttewell Road as a short cut as they do not like Junction 45 as too many roundabouts”.
The relevant authorities whether it be the Highway Agency or Suffolk County Council, they need to take action whether it be by providing better signage on the A14 (Highways Agency) or in the town itself (Suffolk County Council/West Suffolk Council) or look at the practicality of consulting on a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). However, according to the Suffolk County Council website there is currently no budget to introduce any TROs. A TRO costs in the region of £10,000 and must have the support of the Local County Councillor, the Police and a public and business consultation.
You can’t keep building and developing without the infrastructure catching up. It is essential that the new road and J45 is properly used and that the planning condition in the outline consent is strictly adhered to especially in the light of the size of the distribution warehouses either constructed and occupied or under construction or yet to be constructed.
Melanie Soanes – Local resident
Good evening and thank you for inviting me to your meeting. As per Cllr Beckwith’s and Robert Houlton-Hart’s comments I fully support them. As a resident I wish to voice my concerns along with many other residents within the area. I have lived at my property since 2005 (16 years) and my back garden fence is 14 metres away from Orttewell Road and close/adjacent to the mini roundabout near Symonds Road. I am a working mum of 2 boys (11 and 17) who use the local schools and amenities. I feel I am part of the community. As a business owner I am fully aware of the town development both from a population and commercial view. (Appendix 8 photos).
In the last 4 years (since) 2017 Orttewell Road has increased in traffic and the use of HGV’s using Orttewell Road as a cut through has become unbearable, this has shown an increase since SBP opened. The road is now mirroring the A14 which is a trunk road. My house therefore stands 14 metres away from a noisy trunk road environment which is having a major impact on the quality of mine and my family life.
A trunk road, or, strategic road is a major road, usually connecting two or more cities, ports, airports and other places, which is the recommended route for long-distance and freight traffic. Many trunk roads have segregated lanes in a dual carriageway or are of motorway standard.
Orttewell Road is only 1,498m long.
The impact on my family was:
Noise from HGVs – starting at 5am onwards (Monday – Saturdays), with Sunday’s being slightly quieter. HGVs were using Orttewell Road as a cut through from A14/ A134 and A140 (Diss). Lorries slowed down at the mini roundabout outside my house, then accelerating. Some of the lorries were empty as well as full. When empty the containers rattled all the way down the road.
Sleep – sleep patterns were disrupted regularly with deprivation, often tired the next day. I currently take sleeping tablets and war ear plugs every evening. My youngest son struggles with anxiety so struggles to get to sleep and is then woken up early with the lorries. We get a bit or rest bite on a Sunday/bank holiday.
Windows - cannot be opened at night when sleeping as too noisy in the morning. Currently waiting to install acoustic glass in bedrooms, costing over £3k.
Garden - The luxury of sitting in your garden is too noisy with lorries reviving and accelerating past the fence.
Safety – as a parent of an 11 year he was walking to primary school earlier in the year – with primary schools starting back on 2 September 2021 the pedestrian crossing was a route which a lot of children use to access school. They stand at the crossing with 44ft lorries either side of them which is unacceptable and this cannot be healthy either with the fumes so close. The lorries were in close vicinity of the playground and the pub garden (Appendix 8 Abrey Farm/CLDN Cargo). As of next week, my youngest will be walking to Sybil Andrews. My eldest is now driving and attending 6th Form. From January to April 2021, he was home studying.
Stationary HGVs – A number of HGV’s have parked outside my house over the last few months (Cransbill Drive) to access the amenitities (Tesco Express). This was an obstruction on the road and blocks the pathways (Appendix 8).
HGVs parked round Moreton Hall Industrial Estate/Suffolk Business Park – HGVs were now parking up on Suffolk Business Park as well as the other industrial estate from late afternoon getting ready to sleep and then start off early in the morning. These include Fortress Way and Easel Road (Matalan) increase in the lorries causing obstruction on roads, bends. There were no welfare facilities for the drivers hence this had now become a lorry park which added to the situation.
Air pollution – When out in the garden if a lorry stops the other side of the fence (approximately 12m) the fumes are strong. The gardens on Orttewell Road (Poppy close) are at a lower level to the road. As a resident I do not see why I should move. I have been here 16 years and successfully built a family home that is convenient for the amenities. Both of my son’s have attended both the primary school and secondary school. We purchased the house so they can walk to school (always promoted what great walkways and cycle routes Moreton Hall has) and to enjoy the area community.
As a resident since 2017 I have logged extensive HGV users on the road that use Orttewell Road daily, weekly and adhoc. Over 100 organisations use the road, and this is increasing. In 2017, I started a log on the Suffolk Highways Lorry Management system but realised this was a waste of time due to either a lack of response or just standard replies. I have taken photos of HGVs (Appendix 8), which were predominately large freight, transportation, tipper lorries using Orttewell Road.
I have emailed Suffolk County Council, initially on 28 November 2017 to Councillor Finch / Councillor Noble as a resident as recommended by my Ward Member, Councillor Peter Thompson at the time with my concerns to receive a standard reply. I have emailed various other contacts to get no where. I have also had communications via email to Kerry Allen in the past.
I joined the Residents Association to support the community and try to ensure the residents are protected. I have spent a lot of time, writing, phoning and emailing organisations that have and are using the road regularly to raise the awareness of the disruption. Some of these have been supportive, some of them don’t care as legally there is no weight restriction, but they have no consideration for the residents or environment. Most of these organisations have Environmental Policies and Sustainability polices on their websites about working with the community as far as I am aware these are tick box processes. I have also helped with leaflet drops to gain feedback from the Survey (RHH).
Melanie Soanes had liaised with British Sugar; NHS Supplies Suffolk Business Park; MH Star; For Farmers; Nisa; Cofco International Freight; Bartums; Anglia Freight about reviewing their HGV routes.
Regarding Orttewell Road and Bedingfield Way, David Chenery at SCC explained that Orttewell Road was developed to HGV standards, but what was the standard?
Melanie Soanes referred to a data survey carried out along Bedingfield Way over 18 hours/5 days counting the number of vehicles using the road:
- 2018 – 13,581
- 2013 – 17,329
- 21% reduction in traffic.
The data highlighted a reduction in vehicles, but this was not broken down into categories which it should be, for example cars, lorries, HGV various weights. The survey was now 3 years old and did not identify or confirm that HGVs had decreased on Bedingfield Way as visual and by noise they have increased.
Melanie Soanes questioned why the survey was not taking place yearly, as the demographics had also changed. She also questioned whether a survey had been conducted for the EER?
In summing up, Melanie raised her concerns for the future and now, being:
1) £40m was spent on the Business Park and £15m spent on road infrastructure. How has this protected the surrounding residents? All parties involved in the project need to look at the bigger picture and put some protection measures in place, for example, restrictions on roads, designated HGV routes access, egress to site and correct signage.
2) Funding should not be an issue when budgets are set, and financial planning involved. That cannot be used as an excuse.
3) Time is a priority to get something done - Something needs to be done now to protect Moreton Hall and the rapidly expanding residential area for their safety and wellbeing of the residents. Once the warehouses are full/active on the Suffolk Business Park to the full capacity the road is going to be busier with HGV’s if no restriction in put into place.
4) Initial planning of SBP – Application refers to 7.5 tonnes to access J45 (Robert Houlton Hart ref). Why has this not been put in place or monitored?
5) Noise – With more warehouse and transport units looking to be filled in the next few months will increase the noise HGVs with 24 hours 7 days weeks, in the area and future activities concern me.
6) Designated HGV routes – These need to be implemented to control the HGV’s- SAT Navs are not updated to incorporate ERR – with Suffolk business park growing and filling the units especially zone 4 increase in HGV’s 24 hours as no restrictions on Orttewell Road will become worse.
7) Increase in HGVs parking up stationary – On SBP and surrounding roads HGVs were increasing and coursing obstructions to roads - unless a designated area for them and welfare facilities.
8) Damage to infrastructure - Even the roads can be unintentionally impacted by HGVs and commercial bodies if not up to scratch. The friction created by heavier vehicles can cause surface wear on the road, and even cause damage to nearby buildings and structures ie mini roundabout with increased vibration levels.
Moreton Hall Residents need protecting for their own wellbeing and mental health. Thank you for listening.
In response to a question raised by the Committee as to whether traffic calming measures would help in reducing HGVs, Melanie Soanes did not think traffic calming measures would deter HGVs.
Michael Crichton – Local resident
Thank you for the invitation to speak at this meeting. I am a local resident who moved to Bury St Edmunds in February 2002. My property sits adjacent to the Orttewell Road with my back garden fence just 14 metres away from the curb of the road.
The reality was that towns and cities have expanded considerably in that time. Bury St Edmunds and its surrounding area is no exception. A shortage of housing and increasing pressures on land has led to this expansion, both structurally and in terms of population. Hand in hand with this is the increased amount of business development e.g., Suffolk Business Park and of course associated traffic. However, I have noticed a considerable increase in traffic, particularly HGV’s including large container lorries, haulage, and distribution lorries and over the last 2 years in particular, a significant increase in construction traffic. It is also obvious that Orttewell Road has become a ‘short cut’ for HGV’s, thus avoiding the additional time/distance taken to travel via the A14 between junction 45 -43. This has been to the serious detriment of the local area, the environment and of course residents.
In terms of the environment, the noise and its impact on my family’s health and wellbeing has been a serious and ongoing concern. We are not alone, as neighbours talk of the same frustrations and impact. Enjoying the outside space of our garden has been disturbed by constant and increasing noise: brakes, rattling and vibration. The surface of the road is also gradually wearing with cracks which is leading to an increase in the lorry and trailer rattling. In addition, and highly worrying, is that the air is quite often full of fumes which is very uncomfortable. As we know, long term exposure to vehicle fumes may lead to serious health effects. In terms of the traffic noise, our sleep patterns have been affected greatly due to the regular and more frequent transit of lorries during the night but most significantly from 5am onwards. Over the course of the last 18 months the sleep disturbance to our family; particularly to my 17-year-old daughter has been significant, resulting in mental health well-being issues. My wife who is a teacher, has also been affected and has had to adjust her sleep patterns in order to achieve a balanced degree of rest, relaxation, and readiness for work. Working from home during the Pandemic has been increasingly difficult and stressful due to the constant road noise which has interrupted work patterns and concentration.
The rapid escalation of the issues regarding traffic movement and transition through Moreton Hall and in my family’s specific case, the Orttewell Road is now dominating the local agenda and affecting us significantly.
As indicated, there has been an immediate and identified effect on our family life. The wider impact on local residents including ourselves, as the Local MHRA survey of population indicates, as referenced by Mr Houlton-Hart and Melanie Soanes.
Recently I have presented some evidence to the MHRA meeting which I would like to highlight again in support of the issues as described. I have conducted regular and frequent ‘snap-shot’ surveys of HGV movement along the Orttewell Road from my back garden since the beginning of January 2021. These surveys have identified HGV numbers moving in both east and west directions. I have completed 15- minute, 20-minute, 30-minute and 1-hour data collection periods at different times of the day and on different weekdays. In conclusion, the average number of HGV’s moving through per day (10 hours i.e., 06.30 hrs- 16.30hrs) is 200 i.e., 5 lorries every 15 minutes. 70%-75% of those identified are 26-44 tonne HGV’s.
However, this figure do not reflect very busy periods and is highly likely to be an underestimate, for example, regularly between 06.00hrs – 09.00hrs, 13.00hrs -14.30hrs and the period from September through to March when British Sugar opens up for the sugar beet deliveries. This results in much larger numbers and of course wider impact on the environment etc. Admittedly in the extreme (but more regularly occurring) Compiegne Way flooding issues. Over the weekend starting on Friday 29 January until the afternoon of Monday 1 February, Compiegne Way was closed due to flooding. This resulted in more than 600 HGV’s passing along Orttewell Road per day between 05.30 hrs and 17.00 hrs. This was verified by logistics personnel at British Sugar in several phone conversations during that period. They are equally concerned about the effects on the local area and want to work closely with us in rectifying the issues.
In addition, I have instigated conversations with transport managers from three large logistics/haulage companies based in Suffolk who regularly use the Orttewell Road; all three were sympathetic with my comments regarding noise/pollution etc. and had advised drivers to consider the residential nature of the area. However, they were restricted in their overall instructions to drivers and stated that ‘until a weight limit restriction is actioned’ then there is not much we can do!
As a resident who has followed closely and raised questions with regards to the rising problems, I am very disappointed at the lack of progress on what is becoming a serious issue which undoubtedly is having a considerable impact on us as a family and the local area in terms of the environment and local resident’s health and overall well-being. It is not sustainable. As the Suffolk Business Park expands and further areas in proximity to Moreton Hall develop, the situation will worsen, and the long-term health and well-being of residents will be at risk. It is scientifically proven that young children suffer greatly from air pollution and sleep deprivation thus compromising their potential for academic achievement.
In my opinion and because of my family’s concerns, I hope that a key consideration will be made concerning traffic policy, Suffolk’s Greenest County initiative including the update of plans and future plans i.e., ‘The National Planning Policy Framework’ and I hope a greater reference will be considered regarding public health experts’ evidence around the environment and future damage.
With regards to my family’s growing concerns that I have described, I would like to refer to two important headlines/pieces of research and information published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that I have researched in relationship to noise and pollution. I believe that the key concerns we have are supported fully by evidence and research undertaken by the WHO:
1. The Report on Air Pollution 21 March 2018 by Dr Maria Neira, Director, Environment, Climate Change - ‘Air pollution is one of the most critical health threats we are facing today. Health and wellbeing MUST be the number one priority in urban planning’
2. WHO European Technical meeting report on sleep and health. January 2004 (183 pages). This aspect is particularly prevalent as the noise impact on my family’s sleep patterns and wider family life that I have described has had significant impact on us. Particularly early mornings. Key findings in this extensive report are as follows:
“Noise is one of the most important known environmental stimulus disturbing sleep. It is scientifically established that sleep disturbances due to noise can have a short-term impact on daytime function, including impaired neurobehavioral performance and mood.
Traffic noise (as well as neighbourhood noise) play a significant role in terms of sleep disturbance not only during daytime, but during night-time. So, since noise is an environmental factor that can be reduced, it is important that the future issue is to protect the environment from noise i.e., reduce noise through various technical means and promote noise reduction campaigns”.
I hope that you agree with these WHO findings but most importantly you will consider action that will help rectify the growing concerns that we have and that I have described. Thank you for listening.
Councillor Diane Hind informed the Committee as a Moreton Hall resident, she was concerned about residents walking to the shops. Residents could use the underpass on Orttewell Road, but exhaust fumes collected there and suggested installing air monitoring near the underpass.
Councillor Trevor Beckwith expressed his appreciation to all the witnesses and the Committee, and put forward his final points to the Committee and solutions to:
- Look at installing signs on the A14 and on the Business Park.
- Restrict access to HGVs along Orttewell Road.
- Remove the concrete block (roundabout) on Bedingfield Way to which was generated noise from HGVs travelling over it.
Kerry Allen wished to thank the residents for their statements and confirmed that she had noted the following key points to investigate further:
- TRO – this could be pursued with the parish council.
- Agreed to look into the issue of signage and would hold further discussions with Highways England but reiterated that funding was a fundamental factor.
- Suffolk Transport Strategy – SCC wants to progress what’s set out in the Strategy, but it was down to the availability of funding.
- If single traffic flow was removed along Orttewell Road, this would cause more issues with more HGVs using Orttewell Road. Other solutions had been discussed with Network Rail.
In summing up the CCfA hearing, the Chair thanked everyone for attending and for their detailed statements and for sharing their frustrations and potential solutions. The Chair also acknowledged that funding was always an issue. However, the Chair wished to express his disappointment that no Member from SCC could be in attendance this evening to hear the Committees debate, but thanked officers from SCC, Kerry Allen and Clive Wilkinson for their attendance.
It was then proposed by Councillor Margaret Marks, seconded by Councillor Mike Chester, and with the vote being unanimous it was:
That Suffolk County Council be asked to look at, in consultation with relevant partners (were appropriate) the following:
1) Installing signage along the A14 and at J45 to direct HGVs to specific Industrial Estates and Business Parks; and revisiting existing signage within the Business Parking to ensure HGVs are directed to J45, where internal roads join the Eastern Relief Road.
2) Undertake day and night monitoring of HGV traffic flow, overnight parking on Moreton Hall in retail and industrial areas, air pollution and noise along Orttewell Road, Bury St Edmunds to provide a clear evidence base for further action.
3) To consult on a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting HGVs using Orttewell Road, Bury St Edmunds and monitoring the impact of this.
4) Bring the existing lorry park back into use to ensure that drivers park where facilities are provided and where they do not add to the morning congestion at Junction 44 as they leave Moreton Hall.
5) Explore and implement an alternative to the concrete block (roundabout) along Bedingfield Way, Bury St Edmunds to address the issue of noise as HGVs drive over it.
6) Explore long-term solutions to the rail bridge on Orttewell Road, Bury St Edmunds to address the current congestion, for example, introducing weight restrictions to relieve residents of the impact of a number of HGVs which would allow the rail bridge to be reopened to a normal two-way traffic flow.
7) SCC provides West Suffolk Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee with a progress report on recommendations 1 -6 above within three months to be presented to the Committee at its scheduled meeting on 13 January 2022, then regular progress updates thereafter.
[Following the vote, the Committee adjourned the meeting at 6.50pm for a 10-minute comfort break].