Business chief’s ‘rat-run’ fears over Whittington Moor roundabout plans

Scott Knowles.
Scott Knowles.

A top business chief fears hundreds of extra cars could be forced to use residential roads as ‘rat-runs’ if proposed changes to Chesterfield’s Whittington Moor roundabout get the go-ahead.

As part of a £5million project aimed at improving journey times and cutting accidents at the busy site, Derbyshire County Council is considering introducing traffic lights on all six junctions of the roundabout and closing off the entrance to the roundabout from Dunston Road to all traffic apart from buses. Traffic would still be able to leave the roundabout on to Dunston Road.

Traffic lights would also be put at both ends of Sheepbridge Lane.

READ MORE: Should traffic lights be installed at Whittington Moor roundabout in Chesterfield?

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Scott Knowles, chief executive of the East Midlands Chamber - which represents businesses in Chesterfield - told the Derbyshire Times he welcomed the plans to install traffic lights at the roundabout but described as ‘nonsense’ the idea of closing off access by car to the roundabout from Dunston Road.

He said: “Safety on the roundabout does need improving. You take your life in your hands every time you use it, partly because of the speed at which cars come round it, partly because of the number of access points and partly because the sight-lines are short.

“Traffic lights will help although, like at Horns Bridge and Lockoford Lane, the shortness of the gaps between junctions will still see cars trying to make quick lane changes and crashes will still occur, they might just be at lower speeds.

“What we find perplexing is the other works planned as part of this initiative. We agree that traffic lights at the junction of Sheepbridge Lane and Broombank Road will probably help traffic leaving that part of the Sheepbridge Industrial Estate, which is a known bottleneck.

“We don’t, however, see any need for traffic lights at the Dunston Road end of Sheepbridge Lane, which will presumably include Dunston Lane. This will just create standing traffic and increased pollution in potentially four directions instead of one in the evening peak and won’t do anything to ease congestion at the other end of Dunston Lane at Littlemoor. In fact, it could make it worse.

“Closing access by car to the Whittington Moor roundabout from Dunston Road is nonsense. Chesterfield Borough Council has encouraged significant industrial development along Dunston Road and more is planned. Making egress more difficult, even from the council’s own innovation centre, will negatively affect the desirability and value of office space in this area.

“In the mornings, Dunston Road and Sheepbridge workers will still be able to get to their offices and factories from the roundabout. In the evenings they’ll either face hold-ups at the Sheepbridge Lane traffic lights or divert through residential areas of Newbold, such as Racecourse Road, Occupation Road and St John’s Road, to get to Stand Road where they’ll queue again to join already queuing traffic on Sheffield Road to get back to the roundabout. This will effectively double journey times and increase pollution through that part of Newbold.

“I don’t thinks it’s an exaggeration to say it means scores more cars, possibly hundreds more, will be forced to use those residential roads as rat-runs, much to the risk and annoyance of residents.

“As a local business, we would urge all our neighbours and Sheepbridge businesses to go to the consultation meetings to make their feelings known. Traffic on Dunston Road is already bad in the evening rush hour. If implemented, this plan will only make things worse.”

During August, residents will be able to find out more about the proposals at consultation events being held at Whittington Moor Methodist Church Hall, Scarsdale Road Chesterfield, on:

Saturday, August 4 - 10am to 2pm

Monday, August 13 – 4pm to 7pm

Monday, August 20 – 5pm to 8pm

Thursday, August 23 – 12pm to 3pm

Councillor Simon Spencer, DCC’s cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure, said: “There are long delays at peak times at the Whittington Moor roundabout and with more developments planned for the local area journey times are only going to get longer.

“The roundabout also has a high rate of accidents and we need to do all we can to reduce this.

“Doing nothing is not an option so we’ve developed some proposals for significant work which will improve journey times along the A61 and cut the number of crashes.”

He added: “We do recognise that those who get on to the roundabout from Dunston Road will have slightly increased journey times but we feel there is really no other option to improve Whittington Moor roundabout. The scheme has been agreed in principle but we’d still like local people to let us have their views of our proposals.”

The work is being funded from the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership (D2N2 LEP). This is a partnership organisation of local councils, businesses and other organisations, which takes the lead on major infrastructure projects.