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Lack of money halts Clopton Bridge traffic light scheme for another year

A LACK of money has resulted in the brakes being put on a traffic mitigation scheme for Clopton Bridge in Stratford – and it will be at least a year before a new project can be delivered by Warwickshire County Council.

The authority said the plans, as currently designed, are estimated to cost between £3million and £5million. This exceeds the £1.9million of available funding. The increase in costs have been driven by over £500,000 of unexpected utility diversions that would be required, as well as high rates of construction and materials inflation.

It was hoped to have the Clopton Bridge project on-site in the winter of 2022-23 but this will no longer be possible, the county council said.

Clopton Bridge from south of the River Avon. Photo: Mark Williamson C5/2/22/4474. (61528194)
Clopton Bridge from south of the River Avon. Photo: Mark Williamson C5/2/22/4474. (61528194)

The authority believes that due to a programme of other works, and the availability of road space, the next opportunity to deliver a scheme at Clopton Bridge is likely to be 2024. These factors, combined with the need to redesign the project so it is deliverable within the available funding, means the county council will now need to take back responsibility for it and pause its delivery.

Cllr Wallace Redford, responsible for transport and highways at the county council, said: “Although the pause on delivery to the Clopton Bridge traffic mitigation scheme is disappointing, this will give officers of the authority the opportunity to take on board local concerns about the proposals and to develop a scheme that is both affordable, delivers sufficient mitigation as required by the planning inspectorate and is more acceptable to residents.”

The project has been dogged by delays since it was first announced in 2017.

It was scheduled to take six-months to complete but warning signs emerged as costs spiralled and start dates kept being put back.

as recently as October, town traffic experts at Stratford Town Transport Group (TTG) questioned if money set aside for the scheme might be better spent on other transport projects to ease traffic chaos in the town and a site meeting was held at Clopton Bridge and involved county councillors and TTG members.

Commenting on the recent county council announcement the scheme was on hold, Colin Stewart of Stratford Town Transport Group said:

“The TTG did a detailed review of the revised plans 12 months ago and came to the conclusion that there were serious flaws with the proposals. Over the intervening period, we have been in constant dialogue with the county council, expressing our concern at the potential increased congestion and negative environmental effects that could result should it go ahead. The decision to withdraw the traffic signals scheme is positive news for the town and residents.

Stratford has a major traffic problem which is clear for all to see and has been for too long. We hope that we can now work together with the county council to develop a solution not only for the Clopton / Tiddington Road area but for the town as a whole. A solution which would be appropriate for the town and the environment today, and could include cycling, pedestrian, public transport, park and ride, rail, vehicular traffic, restricting HGVs, and parking.”

In addition to the uncertain outcome of the bridge scheme concerns were expressed in August about a series of planning proposals which – it was claimed – would end in gridlock for the whole town with serious repercussions for Clopton Bridge traffic.

The first involved a 238 new home and business park proposal on three hectares of land east of Shipston Road, close to Waitrose. At the same time All Things Wild proposed a new site for its business at Willicote Farm and finally the South Western Relief Road was turned down which meant traffic would have no choice but use existing routes already heavily congested.

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