PLANS for German retail giant Aldi’s development at the old Westlea Campus will go before full planning as road fears look to have been smoothed over following a full audit.
Residents near the site have welcomed the brownfield development, but voiced concerns about road safety and traffic congestion around the proposed access point in Shaw Road.
Last month an independent audit was carried out by Entran Ltd, which made a number of recommendations to improve safety on the busy roads nearby, including Shaw Road and Mead Way.
Rob Williams, of Entran Ltd, said: “A site visit was undertaken on July 10 between the hours of 6.30pm and 7pm.
“The reduced length of the central reserve at the entrance to petrol filling station will encourage right turn to access petrol station. Recommendation is to monitor right turn traffic and introduce restriction if necessary.
“It is proposed to have a mini right turn lane within the central hatched area. The existing kerb alignment pushes eastbound traffic into the centre risking collision with stationary vehicles.”
Other recommendations will include adding additional lengths of footpath and cutting back vegetation to improve visibility and safety for pedestrians accessing the site.”
Aldi said the separate access point in Shaw Road was vital.
A spokesman said: “Careful consideration has been given to the orientation of the store and the site layout, which has been informed by an appraisal of the site, its context and existing features.
“The operational and servicing requirements of the store are also an important factor informing the proposed layout.
“In order to make efficient use of the site the store has been located running parallel with Mead Way. This location allows the glazed shop-front elevation to face the entrance from Shaw Road and Mead Way.
“There are good existing cycle and pedestrian links along Shaw Road. This will be consolidated within the site layout by providing an accessible pedestrian path from Shaw Road and Mead Way, which recognises the natural desire line into the site.”
Kevin Fisher, chairman of the Shaw Residents’ Association, said there were still worries.
“I cannot see any fundamental changes to the design, and there are still concerns that the junction is going to be complex situated as it is close to the island in Shaw Road, which is designed to stop people coming out,” he said.
“That will have to be shortened for truck access to the site.
“The best solution is to use Chelmsford Road as an access point. That is the access road at the moment which used to take you into the site for the old office blocks.
“What they have said is that Aldi needs to have its own entrance and Chelmsford Road will be used for residential traffic.
“I understand it is going to go to full planning, so it will be down to our councillors to decide whether it is safe or not.
“A viable alternative would be to widen Shaw Road, particularly as traffic volumes will increase, and we believe Cartwright Drive will become more of a rat-run.
“They have said they do not think there is going to be a problem, but there have been no substantial changes to the design and we feel there will be increased congestion and some dangers considering the garage located opposite.”
l Fresh homes bid: Page 16