“In the next few years morning rush-hour traffic at the Merrie Harrier junction will have increased four times – by 407.6%,” local Cllr Vince Driscoll, a member of the Dinas Powys By-pass Steering Group, detailed this week. “This isn’t our claim. Its what the Vale of Glamorgan Council say in their Highway Impact Assessment report.
“What are they doing about it? They’re conducting another study. But they don’t say when or what the this will cover. But they do say it will be driven by the content of their Local Development Plan (LDP) which potentially makes it a total waste of rate-payers money.”
The examination of the draft LDP finishes this Thursday after which the Inspector will deliver his report, based on the hearings and the thousands of pages submitted to him, some time before the end of the year.
The outcome will guide the way Council planning and infrastructure development until 2026. It’s already running six years late.
Last October Ken Skates A.M., Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Infrastructure, asked his officers to meet with their counterparts in the Vale Council. They were tasked with coming up with the ‘best solution’ to what he called the ‘unique’ problems of roads in Dinas Powys, that would be fully funded.
“However, by placing a limiting clause to make any findings fit with the LDP the Officers seem to be defying the open remit of the Minister,” added Cllr Driscoll.
“They’re saying, regardless of need and facts, the by-pass will not be considered as a potential solution because the council has excluded it from their LDP.”
Officials seem to also question the outcome of traffic surveys they commissioned in 2012 and 2013. Although there was a recorded increase of 12% between sample dates they say ‘traffic fluctuations’ could reduce this figure to a 5% increase. But the Dinas Powys Steering Group emphasised fluctuations go up as well as down. They say, by the same assumption, the figure could have been as high as a 19%.
The Vale Council now call the Dinas By-pass, first muted nearly 90 years ago, the Barry Waterfront to Cardiff Link Road. The line was drawn and the land reserved
by the then South Glamorgan County Council over half a century ago. It was included in the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) up to 2011. The UDP was compiled by the previous administration.
“According to the council’s figures, rush-hour traffic is already over capacity at the Merrie Harrier but by 2026 Traffic on Redlands Road will back up to Cornerswell Road on a normal work day,” explained Roger Pattenden, another member of the By-Pass Steering Group. “Traffic at the Baron’s Court junction is currently running at 44% above capacity, increasing by over 10% in the next few years.”
The Dinas Powys By-pass Group have observed how figures deep in council reports state traffic at the Cardiff Road and Murch Road traffic lights in Dinas Powys will tail back at peak times. The report states in a few years on Murch Road vehicles will be bumper to bumper for well over half a mile. On the other side of the junction, Millbrook Road, vehicles will back up for approaching a mile.
Traffic at the Murch / Cardiff Road junction was over capacity in 2012 and the council report states it will be nearly 100% over capacity by 2026. “That’s without any of the incidents we’ve experienced recently, each of which has backed up traffic well out of Dinas Powys in all directions,” added Steve Griffiths.
“We’ve had gas leaks on Penny-Turnpike and other temporary traffic lights at Leckwith, at the Dinas Powys station bridge on the A4055 and a short distance further on at the new intersection at Cross Common. A few weeks before that there were tail-backs from the Merrie Harrier to McDonald’s roundabout because of flooding at Sully Moors Road,” said Steering Group member Steve Griffiths.
“Let’s hope either Ken Skates or the Independent Inspector will recognise the urgent need for positive and major decisions and action,”added Cllr Driscoll. “Planning, budgeting and changes to important junctions don’t happen overnight. That’s why they need to be in plans from now – not treated like a political football. These are matters that affect the whole Vale – drivers from Barry, Penarth, Sully, Rhoose and Llantwit Major all use the corridor through Dinas Powys.”
THE BY-PASS SAGA
1928 By-Pass first muted by residents – when between Murch Road and Cross Common were just green fields. Map is in existence.
1964–66 Line of by-pass drawn by Glamorgan County Council. Map displayed on wall of Barry Docks Building – home of Vale Council Planning Department.
1964–66 Alan Todd, whose family had lived in Cross Common since the early 1900s was granted planning to build a bungalow. He didn’t proceed because the by-pass line would have separated the bungalow from his farm.
1971 when a current resident bought house in Cross Common Road the line of by-pass showed in the legal search.
1996 – Glamorgan County Council became the Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council.
2005 – Unitary Development Plan 1996 – 2011 was adopted, which included a proposal for the Dinas Powys By-Pass.
2012 Labour coalition with Llantwit First gained control of Council and within months decide to scrap LDP process six years down the line and started by the previous Conservative administration. They took it back to the ‘Preferred Strategy LDP’ drawn up by the Labour / Plaid coalition in 2007.
2012 The new Council saw: ‘securing the infrastructure necessary to deliver the developments proposed in the LDP as imperative.’ But the By-Pass was removed from the plan.
QUESTIONS TO THE VALE COUNCIL
• Why isn’t the Vale Council including the By-Pass in its Local Development Plan with available funding from the Welsh Government?
• Did the Council compare the projected traffic flow in 2026 with the option of a by-pass?
• Is only 35% of the A4055 through Dinas Powys built up, against 90% Cowbridge High Street, because the Council want to claim the A4055 isn’t over-capacity?
• Why isn’t the Council proposing to implement effective ways to reduce current and future congestion? Walking and cycling are worthwhile but will have little effect on congestion. Buses will still be stuck in traffic and increased rail capacity is some years away.
• Why does the Council conclude that the Barry Waterfront Link Road (Dinas Powys By-Pass) would not significantly reduce congestion and benefit everyone in the Vale?
• Will the Council halt the sale of land at the former St Cyres Lower School until the new study is completed, in case any of the previously reserved land is needed for a by-pass?