Pleas for deferral ignored as massive Cooper Bridge road scheme moves to next level

Council chiefs have agreed to spend £10m to develop a business case for a controversial congestion-busting road scheme aimed at cutting traffic at Cooper Bridge.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 6:00 am

Kirklees Council’s decision-making Cabinet made the move despite repeated calls for the plan to be deferred.

The authority expects to spend more than £75m on the the massive scheme, which it says will cut congestion, improve air quality and reduce journey times.

But the project is unpopular with people living on Oak Road at Bradley as their narrow residential street will become a funnel for traffic off the A62 Leeds Road.

An artist’s impression of how the Cooper Bridge roundabout could look after a major remodelling designed to cut congestion at the notorious bottleneck. (Image: Kirklees Council)

Council Leader Shabir Pandor said Cabinet’s decision would allow the scheme to move to the next stage of development.

He said: “This is not a done deal at this stage. By deferring I believe that we won’t get the answers that we are looking for.”

He added: “I honestly believe that there is a lot of scope that we can look at in terms of Oak Road itself. I don’t want to pre-empt anything because there’s still a long way to go but … a lot of things can be explored.”

Officers have revealed a number of concessions for Oak Road, including a 20mph speed limit, traffic calming measures and a 7.5 tonne weight limit for HGVs.

In its meeting (Oct 12) Cabinet went against the protestations of local councillors representing people living on Oak Road and nearby.

In proposing the scheme Coun Peter McBride referred to it as “Plan B” and that whilst it had a “detrimental effect” on Oak Road “it does work”.

He said the “essence of the negative” for residents of Oak Road was that they would have to accept additional traffic.

He added: “It does meet the needs of Leeds Road and it meets the wider needs of the whole Bradley area” in relieving congestion, improving journey times and journey reliability.

Local councillors Harpreet Uppal, James Homewood and Amanda Pinnock, who all represent Ashbrow ward for Labour, all called for a pause and a re-think on the project.

They also revealed that 30 different schemes had been assessed but that only two had been brought forward.

The current plan replaces a previous iteration that would have involved chopping down ancient woodland along the A644 Wakefield Road Brighouse and Cooper Bridge.

The area is the purported burial ground of Robin Hood.

Coun Uppal said the way the scheme had been drawn up “didn’t feel right” and added: “It must be the right scheme and it must be a good scheme for the borough.”

Coun Homewood asked whether the perceived benefits outweighed the detriment that the scheme would cause.

He said: “In terms of us as elected members and you as the Cabinet, it’s really your job to … apply a little bit of common sense in how we’re building this scheme. I really don’t think the use of Oak Road is the right solution here.”

He said he was not convinced by predictive modelling that said traffic would suddenly reduce once the scheme was implemented and that improving the road would cause more traffic to use it, not less, and thus air quality would worsen.

He commented: “You should really be pausing this, reflecting on it and looking at that approach: do we really think it’s sensible to turn a one-track residential road with listed properties into a highway just because somebody thought we could shoehorn this in? I don’t think that’s the right approach.”

Coun Pinnock welcomed the concessions but said they failed to address many concerns including air and noise pollution, access for emergency services, devaluation of properties and the “morale” of local people.

She said: “Oak Road is going to take a hit so that the rest of the area can benefit, and that can’t be right.

“That can’t be fair for the residents of Oak Road just so a few minutes can be shaved off traffic waiting times. It’s just not good enough.”

What is the Cooper Bridge plan?

The project – formally known as the A62 to Cooper Bridge Corridor Improvement Scheme – will turn the existing three-armed signalised roundabout at Cooper Bridge into a large signal-controlled roundabout with additional left turn links “to provide more capacity”.

Railway, river and canal bridges on Cooper Bridge Road between the roundabout and the Bradley junction will all be widened.

Both sides of the highway will become two continuous lanes – with three lanes on the approach to the Cooper Bridge junction.

Vehicles on the A62 traffic travelling from Huddersfield will no longer be allowed to turn left to Bradley or right into Colne Bridge Road at the Bradley junction.

And at the same junction traffic travelling towards Huddersfield will not be able to turn right to go up the A6107 Bradley Road.

Instead it will be funnelled along Oak Road, which will become a one-way through route to Bradley Road.

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