Ken Mehmed and David Jost of Peterborough Civic Society:
Two roadwork schemes have made sparks fly in recent months. The changes to the station car park access on Bourges Boulevard, to create an all-ways junction complete with traffic lights and pedestrian/cyclist phases, has been underway since early this month. The other scheme that hit the headlines last year concerned the proposed removal of foot/cycle bridges at Rhubarb Bridge junction on Lincoln Road.
This scheme was about to start when public outcry halted the contract, which had been awarded by the city council, at the eleventh hour. A councillor-led working group is currently considering alternatives to demolition.
Where do these schemes come from, how were they chosen and who funded them? It seems they both appeared in the Local Transport Plan 4 approved and published by the Peterborough City Council in 2016. Consultation on this massive report was extensive, but references to both schemes amount to a listing in a table and one or two sentences in the text. On page 92, under a heading of city centre schemes, it is listed as ‘an all movement signalled junction Bourges Boulevard and Viersen Platz (Asda) junction’. Note that this is not the location of the work currently underway. There is no mention of access to the rail station car park! The funding for the scheme comes via the Local Enterprise Partnership as part of the major spending budget for all the improvements being made to the city centre roads and public realm infrastructure.
As for Rhubarb Bridge, the table on page 94 contains a line about ‘A47/J18 Improvements’ and then mentions, ‘the scheme will see the removal of the pedestrian and cycle bridge over J18’ and ‘to be replaced with at-grade pedestrian/cycle crossings.’
Both these proposals seemed to most of us to have ‘come out of the blue’. The Civic Society looks carefully at planning applications but these schemes, being works to the public highway, are not subject to planning approval. We will continue to scrutinise the plans and programmes of all public bodies which have an impact on the urban and countryside environment in the city. Without increased transparency in consultations on such schemes we may all continue to be taken by surprise.