Warning over Harborough traffic timebomb

The massive new housing developments to the north-west of Harborough will cause major traffic problems all over the town and in nearby villages
The massive new housing developments to the north-west of Harborough will cause major traffic problems all over the town and in nearby villages

The massive new housing developments to the north-west of Harborough will cause major traffic problems all over the town and in nearby villages.

That is the warning from John Tillotson, the chairman of Market Harborough Civic Society.

It follows the granting of planning consent for 1,500 new homes. The developments are likely to increase the population of the town by 3,600 people, or about a sixth.

Mr Tillotson said: “What worries us is that the authorities don’t seem too bothered about the problems that will arise from 1,500 new homes.

“And 1,500 houses is an awful lot of cars.”

The civic society had supported the building of 1,000 homes on the northernmost Airfield Farm site.

But Harborough District Council leader Blake Pain said: “The council is grasping the issue of future traffic challenges.

“The district council, jointly with Leicestershire County Council, has commissioned a proper highways study.

“We’ll be finding out what drives the traffic flows all over the district, and what options will be available.

“But our decisions will have to be evidence-based.”

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat opposition group leader on the district council Cllr Phil Knowles said: “History will I am sure see the building of 1,500 homes on this site as a mistake.

“Harborough will be turned into a building site for 10 to 15 years.

“The extra houses will bring huge increases in traffic, with the potential for pollution to reach problem levels in the town. Air quality in the town is becoming a real worry with the need for close monitoring.”

And in the nearby village of Lubenham, parish council chairman Diana Cook said: “We think the highways authority has greatly under-estimated the amount of traffic that will be coming out of the new estate.

“We’re expecting 16 or 17 extra vehicle movements per minute through the village at peak times.

“That’s 1,000 extra vehicles per hour.”

In the town itself, at least three discussion points have arisen from the planned new estates.

Will the link road through the new estate from Lubenham Hill to Leicester Road become an unofficial town bypass?

“It’s intended as an estate link road,” said Cllr Phil King, the council’s portfolio holder for planning. “People will use it to avoid the town centre, of course, but I envisage speed humps on that road.”

Could St Mary’s Road be made one-way?

“That’s been there as a possibility for years,” said Cllr King. “But there’s no decision yet.”

And could Welland Park Road be weight-restricted, preventing HGVs from using it?

“That sounds like it would be a difficult thing to do,” said Cllr King.

He added: “Anyone can predict chaos, and it’s true there are challenges ahead.

“But I do think some people are over-egging it a bit.”

A Leicestershire County Council spokesman said: “We will soon start work on a transport study, alongside Harborough District Council, to get a greater understanding of how the roads are used now, and the potential impact future development will have.

“It will last for a year and will take place at key junctions.”

The information gained will then be used to look at potential solutions to increased traffic, this could include changes to existing roads or even the creation of new ones.

“We haven’t got any plans in place at the moment, but any solutions will have to take into consideration the impact they could have, along with sources of funding available,” the spokesman added.