‘It beggars belief’: Construction plans put lives at risk, say residents

A cyclist on the path next to Millennium Bridge in York. Photographs: Kate Ravilious
7 Nov 2019 @ 8.01 am
| Transport

People’s lives are being put at risk by a temporary plan to open up a cycle and pedestrian route to cars and HGVS, claim residents.

Residents and commuters are worried by the Environment Agency’s latest access plans for the installation of the Clementhope flood defences.

And a Freedom of Information request has revealed that the council also has serious concerns.

The revised plans see Butcher Terrace and Terry Avenue turned into a two-way access road for construction traffic, caravans, and visitors to Rowntree Park and the new Roomzzz hotel.

An email sent from officers to the Environment Agency in February said of the Butcher Terrace/Terrys Avenue diversion:

  • We have serious concerns as to the viability of this option.

    The existing cycle route is very popular and attracts great numbers of cyclists both from Butcher Terrace and from Terrys Avenue.

The agency say they have listened and responded to the feedback (see below) – but residents feel that they have yet to address some of their biggest concerns.

Residents’ concerns 1: Traffic danger

“Heavy vehicles will be interacting with vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians along this busy walk/cycle route at all hours of day and night,” says Kate Ravilious, a local who regularly travels this route with her young children.

York Cycle Campaign and local residents counted more than 500 cyclists and 250 pedestrians using the Butcher Terrace to Millennium Bridge route in a single hour.

“It absolutely beggars belief to open this very busy and narrow walk/cycle route up to such huge volumes of vehicle traffic,” says Juliet Phillip, a member of the cycle campaign.

Families are concerned by the plans

Residents’ concerns 2: Alternatives not explored

Campaigners say the revised access plans do incorporate some significant improvements, including moving the construction works compound to a safer location, and enabling cyclists and pedestrians to use Terry Avenue through most of the works schedule.

But they say too little effort has been put into exploring alternative means of vehicle access for businesses along Terry Avenue.

“Construction traffic can be managed by limiting times of operation and using banks-people and escort vehicles for example, but opening up this route to 24 hour general traffic is another matter entirely, putting residents, pedestrians and cyclists at real risk,” says Helen Roberts, a resident of Butcher Terrace.

Residents’ concerns 3: Lack of consultation

Terry Avenue in York. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
Residents are also angered by “the lack of time given to consider the fresh plans, the failure to listen to people’s concerns and the paucity of planning to return the area to its original state once works have finished”.

Tristan Moss, a resident of Terry Street, said:

  • I’m extremely disappointed to see no recommendations for the promised engagement with local residents and no clear plans for reparation either during or after the construction works.

    The rush to push these plans through is very worrying. Interested parties were only notified about the Environment Agency’s revised plans 10 days after they’d been published, which only leaves two weeks to discuss the plans and lodge objections.

The Environment Agency response

Victoria McCausland, of the Environment Agency, said:

“First and foremost our job is to better protect homes from flooding.

“We recently submitted new and updated information to support our planning application for flood defence work to protect the Clementhorpe community between Skeldergate Bridge and Rowntree Park.

“This updated information includes a new innovative approach to providing underground works.

“Our new plans mean pedestrian and cyclist access can be maintained along Terry Avenue which is great news for the local community and people who use the route to commute to work or use the area for their leisure.

“In response to concerns raised by City of York Council back in February, we have carried out wide-scale consultation with the council, residents and cycle groups, and amended our traffic management plan to accommodate their requests.

“This includes the relocation of the construction compound from the public land south of Millennium Bridge to the playing field at the southern end of Rowntree Park, the introduction of passing places along Terry Avenue and the segregation of vehicles from pedestrian and cycle routes.

“To allow for increased traffic on Butcher Terrace parking will be suspended on one side of the street while work takes place, with additional parking provided for affected residents.

“We welcome further feedback on our revised plans, including where residents feel risks have not yet been adequately mitigated for.”