The start of operations to build a roundabout where Hunstanton Road, Heacham, meets the A149 is fast approaching – September 5.
The roundabout is to serve an estate of 166 houses within but to the south of Hunstanton. These houses will not be connected to Hunstanton and traffic will undoubtedly flow through Heacham. A question remains about why such an access was agreed as it meets no sustainability criteria; there is unnecessary construction involving a length of road, a bridge, the roundabout, 17,000 cubic metres of rock, and the closure of Hunstanton Road for up to seven months.
NCC Highways has always been against this southern highway construction. On August 15, Andrew Wadsworth, NCC highways engineer, stated in an email: “It is correct that Norfolk County Council did favour a permanent access off Harry’s Way but Norfolk County Council are not the planning authority which granted planning permission for the development.” This has been a very late confirmation of the statements made by David Higgins in August 2014 when he was chief highways engineer: “A development that effectively accesses direct onto the strategic route of the A149 does not foster integration but exhibits separation and a stand-alone nature. The Traffic Assessment shows that the majority of traffic movements will be towards Hunstanton, yet the proposed access strategy adds some 600m to each and every car trip in that direction, which contradicts the principles of sustainability and total car journey length.”
On August 4, in a borough council planning debate about the proposed Sedgeford chicken-rearing factory, councillor Chris Crofts stated he “could not think of any valid planning reasons to object to the proposal”, and, “I know it won’t be popular, but if you want to do this job you won’t always be popular”.
Well, there obviously were planning reasons to object to the Hopkin’s Homes roundabout, so why were they not used or was it a case of being popular and, if so, to whom? What group or individual weighed more heavily in the popularity stakes than the several thousands of Heacham residents saddled with months of inconvenience followed by years of increased traffic problems?
There is still time, just, for the borough council to admit their error of judgement and re-assess access to this site. Mistakes have a habit of catching up with their originators.
Terence Parish, Heacham