Relief over relief road study - reaction from Stratford campaigners
CAMPAIGNERS opposed to the building of the South Western Relief Road (SWRR) have welcomed news that a new study is to look at alternative – and sustainable – travel options.
Proposals for the controversial relief road caused uproar when first proposed in 2017, leading to a 1,000-signature petition and concerns about the impact the road could have on existing homes and environment south of Stratford.
While Stratford District Council has not ruled out the road as an option, it will commission experts to examine viable alternatives for transport infrastructure needed to cope with the thousands of new homes being built at the Garden Village at Long Marston.
Opponents to the SWRR argue that spiralling costs remain a major obstacle and, even if it did go ahead, claim the final bill could be as much as £200m. They say it is a huge price to pay for a single lane carriageway road that is likely to be congested.
“The world has changed,” said Dave Peregrine, chairman of the Stratford Residents Action Group. “Covid has seen people working from home, they haven’t needed to use their cars.
“The COP26 conference was about our climate emergency. There are viable alternatives to building the road and we welcome the fact that Stratford District Council is looking at some of them. We have been trying for years to get this road off the table because it would have been a blot on the landscape.”
The study, the council said, will include how the Garden Village could become more self-contained and reduce the need for the travel as well as examining greener transport solutions.
Cllr Daren Pemberton, the district council’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for place and economy, said: “Long Marston Airfield could become a blueprint for what new large-scale developments should look like in a zero-carbon world.”
He continued: “The SWRR rightly remains on the table and its route is safeguarded. It remains the only identified solution, subject to planning permission being granted, to addressing the traffic impact of the new settlement.
“However, this new work is an opportunity for fresh thinking in light of climate change and Covid-19 and it is right that we explore every avenue. It may be that this work confirms the necessity of the SWRR. What we won’t be doing is pre-judging any outcomes.”
The council is working with Warwickshire County Council and Homes England to look at how to progress delivery of the Garden Village – the later phases of the project are tied to transport plans.
Stephen Norrie, chairman of Stratford Climate Action, welcomed the new study: “Building roads generates more traffic and that’s not going to achieve net zero. There are sustainable alternatives such as working from home, re-opening the Honeybourne line with a light rail link and local work hubs.”