Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Latest on the Steppingstone Group roundabout proposal

On Monday 11th August Lynn and I wrote to the Steppingstone Group's advisers asking them to answer six questions about their proposal.  I attach a copy of that letter below so you can read the questions and see how Steppingstones advisers have responded.  
This morning I received this reply:

Wednesday 13th August 2014

CC. Charlie Seward, Ralph Oultram and Lynn Riley

Dear Andrew,
Many thanks for your email of Friday, to which I replied, and for your subsequent letter on Monday. 
We’re delighted with the level of response that this initial consultation has gained from the local community and thanks both yourself and Lynn for your interest. So far there have been more than 750 responses, the vast majority of which have been positive.
This consultation was designed to see if there is support from the local community on the principle of such as development. As you’ll appreciate, the first step in any process is to see if there is an appetite for such a solution before taking it forward. The huge response from the community shows that to be the case so we are now taking the next step of meeting with CWaC officers to investigate options. That meeting has now been arranged.
If CWaC believes there is any value in the proposal we’ll be in a position to come back to stakeholders for further discussion. Hopefully we’ve already demonstrated our commitment to consulting with the community and we’ll continue to talk to Frodsham Town Council, Sutton Weaver Parish Council and Helsby Parish Council along with Halton Station Road residents and neighbours to the site, Ralph Oultram as the ward councillor for the area and of course yourself and Lynn as neighbouring ward councillors, as part of that process.
We look forward to meeting you to discuss this further when we have more to report.
With kind regards,

Rachel Smith 

To save anyone digging out the previous blog entry Lynn and my letter stated:

11 August 2014

Dear Ms Smith  

Re: Steppingstone Group - proposal for a roundabout controlled junction near Sutton Weaver Swing Bridge - A56 and Clifton Road

Following on from Steppingstone Group’s (‘Steppingstone’) proposal for a roundabout controlled junction on the eastern side of the Sutton Weaver Swing Bridge and the consultations you have reportedly carried out we set out here some questions that we would like you to answer.  We believe answers to these questions are important so that the wider community can fully understand the basis on which Steppingstone has put the proposal for a roundabout forward.  With this in mind we are publishing this letter.

  1. A Cheshire West and Chester Highways Officer has made an informal assessment that the highways works that would be necessary to produce the proposed roundabout shown in your indicative layout would cost of the order of £2M.  Has Steppingstone costed the proposed works, and if so what figure does Steppingstone estimate the roundabout and all other associated highways works would cost?
  2. It is not clear from the descriptions provided by Steppingstone whether Steppingstone is offering to carry out the highways works itself, or to pay for them, or whether it expects Cheshire West and Chester Council (‘CWaC’) to carry them out at the council’s cost.  CWaC does not have c£2M available to pay for these works as matters currently stand, nor is it anticipated that this sort of funding would be available in the medium term.  So, so far as Steppingstone is concerned - how are the highways works to be carried out and who is to pay for them?
  3. Is Steppingstone offering to transfer the land on which the proposed roundabout and related approach roads to CWaC, and if so, on what basis?
  4. The land where the proposed roundabout is to be sited is in green belt - as are the surrounding fields.  The emerging local plan has not sought to change this designation.  Does Steppingstone link its roundabout proposal with the development of the surrounding land it owns?  If it does, on what basis and what if any development is in mind?  How does Steppingstone seek to demonstrate the ‘very special circumstances’ that would be necessary?
  5. What discussions has Steppingstone had with CWaC planners regarding any development proposals in this vicinity - and are any such discussions proposed for the future?
  6. I’m sure you and your client readily appreciate that the Sutton Weaver Swing Bridge is likely to be re-opened following its refurbishment in the autumn of 2014.  Whatever the outcome of CWaC’s consultation regarding the proposed traffic regulation order and the choice of configuration of the road junction on the eastern side of the Swing Bridge the roundabout proposal suggested by Steppingstone could not be implemented by then.  Does Steppingstone have a timetable in mind for the construction of the roundabout and any linked development?  
  7. We confirm our willingness to meet with you and your client to discuss Steppingstone’s proposals.  We would be grateful if you would produce a response to this letter in a format that can be readily published.
    Yours sincerely

    Cllr Andrew Dawson Cllr Lynn Riley

    In the final analysis it is up to Steppingstone and their advisers how they choose to answer the questions put to them.  I take the view that their response of 13 August does not answer the direct questions put them - certainly not in the full way that I had hoped.  With this in mind I have already responded by email specifically requesting that they do answer the direct questions that were put to them in the letter of 11 August and previously.