For over a year, frustration has been building among village motorists and other residents about the mounting peak-time traffic queues at Ruddington’s busiest crossroads.
The increased delays at the Loughborough Road/Kirk Lane/Flawforth Lane traffic lights are being blamed on a failure to carry out the promised junction improvement works there – as hundreds of new families move into the four, major new developments approved in Ruddington as part of the Rushcliffe Borough Council (RBC) ‘Local Plan Part Two’.
As previously reported, Avant Homes in particular has come in for criticism after some high profile RBC planning condition breaches at ‘Wilbur Chase’ (above). Two of these involve allowing new properties to be occupied before agreed junction works are completed – with the developer once again in significant breach of RBC’s most recently agreed ‘variation’ (granted on 4th April 2022) which allowed up to 35 homes there to be occupied. At the last count (April 26th 2023) that number was 58, despite no further variation being granted.
The final plans for the improved junction (below) were drawn up for Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) back in February 2022. Residents are demanding to know what’s caused a delay of well over a year – during which peak time traffic there has become a daily nightmare.
Recently, villager Phil Roberts took to Twitter to describe the situation as “a complete mess” and share an email he received from Via East Midlands which informed him: “Rushcliffe Borough Council are now considering taking enforcement action against Avant Homes and William Davis which would restrict them from occupying any more dwellings until the works have been completed.
It continued: “There was a meeting with Avant Homes, William Davies, NCC, Via and Rushcliffe Borough Council that was held on the 28th April in order to determine when works are likely to take place. The outcome of the meeting was that the developer(s) need to provide a Statement regarding the programming of works. This will need to be provided in a timely manner to ensure that the works can take place prior to the National Highway works to the Nottingham Knight and Wheatcroft roundabouts.”
A spokesperson for William Davis Homes responded: “As a responsible, five-star rated developer, William Davis Homes have attempted to work with both Avant Homes and Nottinghamshire County Council to resolve the situation concerning Kirk Lane junction for over 18 months. We cannot speak for other developers, but we can confirm that no Planning Contravention Notice, or threat of such notice, has been received from Rushcliffe Borough Council in respect of the William Davis development. William Davis have kept both Rushcliffe BC and Nottinghamshire County Council up to date in respect of this issue and the efforts being made to resolve the situation.
“We believe that at all times we have acted reasonably in seeking to lead on resolving this situation and we strongly object to any implication that Rushcliffe Borough Council has threatened any form of enforcement action against this company – or that this company has in any way played a part in delaying the implementation of the improvement works to the Kirk Lane junction.”
The statement continues: “At the commencement of our development, monies sufficient to cover the William Davis share of the works were placed in an ESCROW account administered by an independent solicitor. William Davis has led on both the negotiation of the Section 278 legal agreement with Nottinghamshire County Council (now signed) and with Via over the tendering and implementation of the works, liaising with Cadent, Western Power, BT and Severn Trent Water, all of whom have plant which is affected by the works.
“Having agreed the principle of a joint procurement strategy for the Kirk Lane works with Avant Homes prior to purchasing our development site, William Davis have only received a binding legal agreement from Avant in April of this year which has enabled a contract for the works to be let. As a consequence of receiving the legal agreement William Davis has procured the services of an independent consultant Project Manager to act for both William Davis and Avant to negotiate road space, confirm the appointment of the main contractor and to oversee the implementation of the works.”
It adds: “Having acted reasonably and in good faith throughout this process, we look forward to a resolution to this situation as soon as possible.”
An Avant Homes spokesperson said: “We have been liaising with both Rushcliffe Borough Council (RBC) and Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) regarding the upgrade of Kirk Lane junction. We have now entered into a legal agreement with NCC to upgrade the junction as part of our planning approval. Our designated project manager is now liaising with both NCC and RBC, as well as the other statutory bodies, to agree a start on site.”
However, the statement added: “In the interim, we have submitted an application to vary the original planning condition relating to the junction upgrade so that works can be progressed. The application to vary the existing planning condition will essentially ensure we have the time required to establish an agreed start date.”
RUDDINGTON.info asked both RBC and Avant Homes to be more specific about what this latest planning condition variation is, but neither gave us the answer. It’s suspected the housebuilder is seeking to ‘officially’ fill even more of its ‘Wilbur Chase’ properties before this junction work is completed.
A senior member of RBC’s planning department has confirmed in a recent email to another village resident that the Section 278 legal agreement is now signed: “This has been one of the main barriers to the works taking place and represents some key progress. The only remaining obstacle is now to secure road-space (essentially permission to close the road fully or partially for the duration of works) which needs to be obtained from VIA East Midlands. This involved presenting a package of works and a timetable to them. For understandable reasons VIA are keen to ensure that all agencies and utilities undertakers who have works planned in the vicinity of this junction do so together so as to avoid this section or road being closed and dug-up again in short order. This has significantly increased the number of bodies and utilities supplies who need to contribute to the works programme and timetable and trying to ensure that the package meets everyone’s needs becomes more time consuming as more partners are involved.”
The email adds: “The various agencies and bodies have appointed a single co-ordinator to try and streamline the development of a works package and timetable. We are in the process of finalising dates for a follow-up meeting in efforts to keep everyone focused on ensuring that the works are commenced (and completed) as soon as is possible. Provided that we continue to see good progress being made, we do not believe that any of the enforcement options open to us would achieve more in bringing the work forward.”
The official Rushcliffe Borough Council statement to us says: “We have been co-ordinating the developer and other parties and contractors to ensure all are taking the essential steps to progress with the road developments as soon as possible. Our efforts are ongoing and progress is being made and we will continue to keep all options open to ensure it continues. Working together with partners and other organisations, Via’s co-ordination team will be ensuring works are scheduled to minimise disruption for road users, once the works are due to commence.”
Once a date is finally revealed for this long overdue junction upgrade we’ll let you know. What is for sure, in the short term there’ll be even more serious delays and disruption ahead!