War of words in Weldon over permanent closure of main road into village

The council says closing Kettering Road will reduce traffic going through the village

Monday, 8th November 2021, 6:20 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 9:10 am
Cllr Kevin Watt, Cllr David Sims and Cllr Macaulay Nichol are calling for a full public consultation to take place before the proposed road closure goes ahead.

A row over whether Kettering Road should be permanently closed is splitting residents of Weldon.

North Northamptonshire Council says the proposed closure of the rat-run will help reduce traffic through the village.

But many people are angry they have not been properly able to take part in the decision-making process and that traffic surveys used to inform the order are years out of date. They believe that shutting Kettering Road will simply shift traffic on to the already-busy Corby Road.

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The proposal means Kettering Road to the A43 will be impassible

Now the three unitary councillors for the area have joined residents to call on the authority to undertake a full public consultation and a new traffic survey before going ahead with the proposal.

The future of Kettering road has been debated for more than a decade. The idea of making it one-way only - allowing traffic out of the village via the A43 but not in - was originally suggested in a proposal supported by the parish council in the late 2000s.

Then a few years later, some people began suggesting the road be stopped-up altogether.

But in 2010, when the 1,000 home Weldon Park development was going through the planning process, minutes from the development control meeting show the Highways Authority rejected the idea of stopping-up the road because they said it would cause issues for local businesses and 'would also mean all traffic leaving Weldon to go south would be forced along Corby Road rather than being split between the two as at present.'

The road would be closed along the purple line

Those in favour of blocking the road say that Weldon Park and Priors Hall have increased both the speed and the amount of traffic using Kettering Road between the A43 and the village and have created an unacceptable risk for people living in nearby streets.

Last year 250 Weldon residents signed a petition calling for North Northamptonshire Council to carry out a full traffic assessment of the entire village in the light of the new residential and commercial developments around Weldon. Although the council promised to undertake an assessment, that has not happened.

Weldon Parish Council also ignored those calls, backed the closure of Kettering Road and also proposed closing part of Oundle Road.

A formal notice of intention advertising the proposed traffic regulation order was published on Thursday (November 4) and has already caused disagreements in the village.

It shows two sets of bollards, 132m apart just south of the entrance to Weldon Woodland Park. It means the road would be permanently blocked as a through-road except to emergency vehicles, whose drivers would be able to remove the bollards in case of an emergency. Cyclists and pedestrians would also be able to use the road and people from south of Weldon would still be able to access the household waste centre.

The notice says: "The reasons for (the order) are to reduce traffic through Weldon. This road change is part of road improvement works relating to a new housing estate being built by Persimmon in Weldon.

"Due to the increase of residents, it is important to prevent the increase of through traffic in Weldon over the use of the A43 bypass. This will create a safer and less congested environment in Weldon."

But many people in Weldon say the closure of Kettering Road will not decrease traffic, but will only force it on to Corby Road. They say congestion will increase as well as pollution.

Some had posted on the village Facebook site but, after posts were deleted, they decamped to a new page where one resident said: "The closure of Kettering Road was mooted as part of the Persimmon development 11 years ago, well before a lot of the new planning that has been granted, which has placed such an enormous strain on the village.

"A sum total of 87 Weldon residents replied to the consultation held then, less than 3 per cent of the village population. This has been used as 'evidence' that villagers agree to this preposterous proposal, and is blatant manipulation of consultation data. We need to shout loudly to stop this in its tracks."

Councillor David Sims has now called for more work to be done before any decision is made.

He said: "This needs to go out to a public consultation for proper consideration.

"The consultation done a few years ago is too old. The whole area has changed. We have got a new school being built and development across the area and it's a very different place now.

"The public should be re-consulted.

"I think that it's a mistake to shut the road. You're just moving the problem.

"People all around Weldon are going to be affected by this, not just those living in the immediate vicinity."

Linda Rodger of Rodger's Coaches has a base in Kettering Road. She said that the road closure would make it easier for buses to leave the site.

"If anything this will probably benefit us," she said.

"Sometimes the cars just fly down here but our buses have to pull out quite slowly. The majority of our buses turn right out on to the road and don't go through Weldon."

Residents have until November 25 to submit objections. They can do so by emailing [email protected]