Halt The Branch demolition until plan and assessment of impacts of road widening available

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We the undersigned petition the Council to consider extremely seriously the following points with regard to proposed alterations to road junctions at The Branch Hotel and Otley Road/Valley Road (Canal Road) in Shipley:

  1. Local residents must be fully and meaningfully consulted about any proposed development.
  2. Works must prioritise health and well-being through improvements in road safety, air quality and traffic noise at and between these junctions and in particular at Shipley C of E Primary School.
  3. Works must protect and complement local heritage including the former Branch Hotel and other features of the Saltaire World Heritage site and buffer zone.
  4. Plans which demonstrate measures to enable safer, easier and more pleasant walking and cycling must be made available before major junction changes.
  5. Works must incorporate measures to prevent rat-running by A650/Canal Road and Shipley Town Centre traffic through neighbourhoods adjacent to these junctions.
  6. Evidence that works will improve average journey times for all road users (including pedestrians and cyclists) must be provided.
  7. For more information see http://shipleyneighbourlynews.wordpress.com


Additional Background:

The proposed demolition of The Branch pub is being described as part of a 'package' of measures which include 'junction improvement'.  We dispute the use of the word 'improvement' here when we have been given no plan of what the new junction will look like.

Residents, local councillors and parents are worried that "improvement" is simply a euphemism for road widening and that the plan is likely to facilitate an increase the number of vehicles passing Shipley C of E and other residential areas.  Already the air quality is well over the legal limit for NoX particles which are highly damaging to human health (see - Air Quality Concerns - Shipley).

No coherent plan to reduce the number of HGVs and polluting vehicles passing through our streets has been presented. Ironically, the widening of a junction is being 'green-washed' with the argument that it will lead to less congestion and pollution.  While there may be very short-term enabling of traffic flow at this specific site, all evidence from previous schemes is that road widening leads to an increase in traffic.  Fox's Corner provides a good example.

When this is combined with other planning decisions in the Aire Valley including an incinerator in Keighley and large warehouse developments on greenfield sites in Baildon, the prognosis is for continued increases in HGV traffic for the foreseeable future.  If we add the proposal to build 2500 new homes near Canal Road (without the investment in infrastructure or contributions to the local environment that we would hope for), the situation looks dire.

We call on the Council to re-prioritise its obligations to protect the health and well-being of its citizens and environment in the long-term over the short-term movement of heavy good vehicles and other traffic.  We dispute the premise that widening a junction will improve air quality when adjacent junctions will be the receiving bottlenecks for an excess of vehicle traffic thus negating any improvement in journey times and contributing nothing to a vision for a less polluted Bradford.

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