Shaftesbury’s Mayor has warned the Town Council that it will take ‘at least one year’ before the roads on the northern part of The Maltings can be adopted by Dorset Council. Councillor Tim Cook says that residents are likely to face lengthy disruption while developer Persimmon brings the highways up to the required standard.
Cllr Cook told this month’s full Town Council meeting that a Dorset Council highways officer had told him that roads on the estate won’t be signed off by the local authority until at least next autumn. “He showed me detailed drawings and advised me that the roads north of Mampitts Square are not in a fit state for Dorset Council to adopt. This will take at least a year, in his view, because of the current quality and build of the roads that the developers put in,” said Cllr Cook.
“Dorset Highways has the responsibility for all roads in Dorset and they have a set of criteria regarding the quality of the roads, their stability and usability,” added Tim. “If any road does not meet these quality standards, Dorset Council will not adopt them as a public highway.”
I asked Tim how this had happened. Did Dorset Council assess the quality of the road built while it was being put down? “All the responsibility for the roads on any new estate lies with the developer. As far as I am aware, the standard of road construction that Dorset Highways requires has not changed radically since that new estate extended to the north. The developers know very well the standards to which they have to adhere. They built the roads to the standard that they wanted to, which fitted their budgets. They know the criteria they have to fulfil. That’s why the quality of the road is, in my view, the total responsibility of the developer,” explained Cllr Cook.
I asked Tim why this work will take up to a year? Surely a dedicated team could complete the project over a shorter period. “It’s not just the top of the road that needs changing,” Tim said. “In some cases, opposite Snowdrop Wynde, the road needs to be cut down further and road foundations need to be re-laid. This is the only spine road to the north of Mampitts Square. It is the only way in and out. Where traffic can be diverted via a different route, the whole road can be closed off over a weekend and prepared to the right standard. In this case, because traffic has to be able to get up and down that road at all times, one side needs to be done for 500m and the other side is to be done 500m, and so on. I was advised by the gentleman in the Highways department that, because of the length of the road that needs to be done, this will have to take place over a far longer period.”
Tim says that will mean more disruption for residents and he would like locals to contact the developers if they have strong views about this news. “All the residents need to contact Persimmon and make their feelings known to them, that any disruption is too much.”
I asked Tim whether the Town Council could step in, as they represent people who live on the estate. “There are regular meetings with the developers and County Highways. I am copied in and I know when these meetings occur. I can go and put the residents’ position to the developer and see what we can do, as a Dorset Council representative and also as a representative of the Town Council, to press the developer to fulfil their obligations in a timely fashion and keep disruption to residents to an absolute minimum.”
Some residents of the Maltings have expressed their feeling that Shaftesbury Town Council doesn’t care for them or represent their views. I asked the Mayor for his reaction. “I appreciate that they may feel further away from the town centre but I think a resident of Shaftesbury is a resident of Shaftesbury. It doesn’t matter whether they live in the far east of the town or the furthest point west. We all have a right to be represented and we have a right to feel that we are part of a community,” said Tim.
Tim says one of the benefits of an adopted road is the potential for bus services to link The Maltings with the town centre. “It means that buses could possibly run. There are bus routes that haven’t been implemented. Bus companies will not run their buses on unadopted roads. If they are bumping over drain covers, there’s too much potential for damage to the vehicles. If the roads are adopted and the buses run, residents will have a greater feeling of being included because they can just jump on a bus and coming to the centre of town.”
Persimmon Homes South Coast told ThisIsAlfred.com: “Where the roads are to be adopted we have designed and constructed them to full Dorset Highways adoptable standards. All of the road south of Mampitts Square have been constructed and finished to those standards and we are now going through the final inspections as part of the adoption process.”
The developer added that they have not fully completed the roads to the north of the square because construction traffic has been using this while the remaining properties are being built.
Persimmon’s spokeswoman added: “We did meet with Dorset Highways in September to inspect the roads prior to applying the final surface course but the meeting threw up several questions, as a comment was made that the previous Dorset Highways inspector had condemned all the roads in the area. It was the first time we’d heard such claims and we are now working closely with Dorset Highways for them to provide clarification. If issues with the road make up are confirmed, we will obviously work with Dorset Highways to correct any problems so that the road can be adopted, whilst making sure that any required works will involve minimal disruption to residents.”