This article was written by Whitley resident Sara Maycock.
The background to Whitley’s pending over development and our plea for help centres on the inadequacy of the planning system and Coventry City Council’s complete failure to consider the interests of local communities in its quest to become a top ten city.
As we face climate disaster, green space has never been as important in mitigating the worst effects of temperature’s rises in urban areas resulting from the Urban Heat Island effect, which make urban areas between 4 and 5 degrees centigrade warmer than surrounding rural areas particularly at night.
Whitley is currently seeing important green space, formerly designated as green belt, being used for the development of 350 additional houses in the area, some of this land being valuable publicly accessible space owned by Coventry City Council, which could be used instead as a community park and an educational resource by local schools, as well as providing an area for wildlife and a vital cooling mechanism against rising temperatures and the effects of the development already agreed.
A state of the art Materials Recycling Facility has already been approved this year, along the River Sherbourne corridor, writing over a Local Wildlife site and old allotments. While this will assist recycling rates in the city, the recycling service, jointly owned by 7 other LAs in the West Midlands region, will bring huge 26 ton articulated vehicles on to Whitley’s section of London Road on a daily basis as well as large numbers of bin lorries depositing waste from all over the region. The facility should, in any city with community at its heart, have been sited outside the city away from residential areas on the major road network where future expansion would not adversely affect the local environment and the safety and well- being of Whitley residents.
To add insult to injury a drive-in McDonalds has been approved on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate (based on the Highways officers testimony that there would be negligible highway impact) and will be sited on the Abbey Park Asda car park – with access directly off an already busy roundabout. Idling cars and inevitable traffic queues entering the site will further worsen air quality in an already busy and congested area.
Add to this traffic related to the 350 additional houses proposed along the London Road corridor and the proposed giga factory on the Airport site (designated green belt by the way) and hell on earth springs to mind. While we accept the importance of housing need in the city, it is the sheer scale of what is proposed in a small area already inundated with traffic and new development.
The airport retail park towards Toll Bar End has regular traffic tailbacks at weekends due to the inadequacy of traffic management arrangements and over development of the park – the same mistake is about to be repeated in Whitley.
Local residents are lobbying the Council, in particular the Highways officers who see the effect of any new development in the city as having negligible impact on the roads as background traffic is already high!
The Asda roundabout is already at over capacity at peak times ( even before the MRF and McDonalds arrive on the scene) yet the same argument pertains that the impact of anticipated additional traffic from the proposed housing developments will be negligible!
The final insult is that 2 of the housing developments are being described as sustainable as they have good access to local amenities by foot and bike – in spite of there being no safe crossings on the stretch of London Road and Allard Way where they will be sited or a designated cycle path. A late amendment has introduced a partially signalised junction at Abbey Road – frankly an Elastoplast on an already fatal wound! It does nothing to address the fundamental inadequacies of cycling and walking provision in the area.
As we face serious environmental challenges it is disappointing that a city stating that it is leading the charge to tackle climate change thinks it’s ok to write over green space and allow exponential traffic growth at a time when we should be recognising the value of the natural world as a key weapon in mitigating the worst effects of climate change and environmental pollution and working to change people’s behaviour. Will they ever get it?
Anyone who can lend support in our quest to point out the error of their ways and more importantly be heard, will be welcomed with open arms! I would add that our three ward Councillors are very supportive of our plight so they too are adding their voice to our concerns.