‘SECRET’ details of proposals have been uncovered for a multi-million pound bypass through Solihull borough to alleviate the Coventry area’s congestion, residents claim.
Balsall Common Village Residents Association’s newsletter claims the plans for a four-lane new road through Balsall Common have only come to light through a Freedom of Information request to Solihull council.
It claims: “Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council had deliberately tried to keep it from residents and they claim they did this to prevent property blight on a scheme that might not go ahead. Who took that decision is not clear.
“The Solihull cabinet (senior councillors) knew of the scheme in outline and decided to allow officials to work with Coventry on the scheme development at least in as far as to understand it.”
It has been no secret that a link road at Balsall Common would, if it goes ahead, form phase three of an otherwise well publicised scheme to reduce traffic jams through Coventry, Warwickshire and Solihull, partly in anticipation of HS2.
As we have reported, a £23million phase one of the scheme is set to begin next spring on the A46 Stoneleigh junction to tackle congestion and improve safety including a new roundabout connecting the A46 and Stoneleigh Road, and a new bridge.
Phase two would aim to improve access to Warwick University and surrounding business parks through a new road linking the A46 at Stoneleigh with Westwood Heath via the A429 Kenilworth Road.
Highway chiefs have said this would also help reduce the use of minor roads such as Kenilworth’s Crackley Lane for traffic en route to the university and surrounding area.
Phase three would see a further continued link of the road towards either the A45 or A452 – offering an improved link between Coventry and Warwickshire and the area around Birmingham Airport and the NEC.
It is also designed to alleviate congestion on the A45 in Coventry at Canley.
The article in the newsletter is written in personal capacity by Berkswell Parish Councillor Andrew Burrow.
Coun Burrow states: “Berkswell councillors were astounded to receive copies of a map showing a four-lane highway through Balsall Common.
“It had been forced from Solihull council by the Information Commissioner after years of work by a local resident. A rapidly organised meeting was held with the SMBC Infrastructure Manager concerned.”
He added the meeting heard of “two options of a final link to bypass the jams on the A45 at Canley, one of those to go up Hallmeadow Road.”
Coun Burrow added: “The current status is that nothing is yet planned (for phase three) but Coventry have a wish to put their traffic, caused by their planned development, through the Meriden Gap possibly through Balsall Common.
“SMBC have not yet instructed their officials to tell Coventry that no route through past Balsall Common is acceptable for a four-lane highway.
“Berkswell councillors are committed to working with our borough councillors to kill this ASAP so that it gets no momentum.”
A publicly available Solihull council officers’ report to councillors sitting on its ruling cabinet in June last year stated they were in discussions with Warwickshire County, Coventry City and Warwick District Councils “primarily to gain a better understanding of the scope of the Phase 3 element of their proposal.”
It added a need to alleviate HS2 construction traffic in the borough “could also influence potential alignment options for Phase 3 of the A46 Link Road.”
The document also states: “Much reference has been made amongst local community representatives in the Balsall Common and Berkswell area to the need for a ‘bypass’ to provide relief for congestion in the centre of the village.
“The intent of the work commissioned by the council is to identify if there is indeed sufficient need for such a measure and, if so, to explore potential alignment options.”
Solihull Council said: “There are no plans for a potential A46 link Road that Solihull Council has signed up to.
” The Council has been in discussions with neighbouring authorities about their proposals for investment in a number of road schemes, which if they were built would have implications for the borough.
“Solihull Council has not committed to any scheme, there is no funding package in place nor is there a policy imperative.
“The Council is continuing these discussions on the understanding that all the phases have some implications on future traffic management for both the local and regional network, and a potential ‘phase three’ directly concerns the borough. ”
Speaking about the claims of plans being kept secret the council said: “The A46 Link Road indicative lines, were indicative.
“These lines allowed partners to discuss proposals and think through potential consequences.
” The reason for not making the designs public was that they were, and remain, dots on a map – not substantive schemes. “