CHIVERTON CYCLE BRIDGE AND ST AGNES TO TRURO CYCLE HIGHWAY
In 2018/19 we led a successful campaign for a safe cycle crossing at Chiverton and a route between St Agnes and Truro to be built with the A30 improvement scheme. Cornwall Council continue to engage with us on the detailed design.
Situation as at Spring 2020.
The A30 Chiverton to Carland Cross Scheme has received planning consent and preliminary works have started. The scheme will see the removal of the present Chiverton junction. A new roundabout will be built 700m to the east with the A30 going over on an embankment. A cycle bridge will be put in at the present 'Starbucks' site where the A30 will be lowered by 2m. Shared use paths will be built on either side extending from St Agnes to Threemilestone. This will be done as part of a package of 4 ‘Saints Trails’ which also includes a route between Perranporth and Newquay.
Further information including an overview of all the routes can be found on the Saints Trails section of the Council’s website. This also contains a useful video giving a bird’s eye view of the routes.
Cornwall Council will shortly be submitting a planning application for the section of the St Agnes to Threemilestone route which runs from the village to Chiverton. Subject to obtaining planning consent works are due to start on this section towards the end of November this year and should be complete by July next year.
The underpass which we campaigned against (see below) remains in the consented scheme. We are hopeful that should the cycle bridge be delivered at the same time as the A30 scheme work at Chiverton the underpass will become redundant and be removed from the scheme. The money saved could then be used to fund optimum walking, cycling and horseriding provision along the detrunked A30.
The Story of the Campaign
Below we set out the story of our campaign. At relevant sections we make reference to more detail in our 'Further Information' document which you can find here
The opportunity for a safe cycle crossing at Chiverton
In late 2017 we learnt from Highways England that their scheme for dualling the A30 from Chiverton to Carland Cross did not include a safe crossing for cyclists at Chiverton. The scheme was a crucial opportunity to put in a cycle bridge or underpass crossing to remove the barrier to cycling that Chiverton had become over the years. Chiverton is on a key route between the North coast and Truro and St Agnes Parish has grown to over 7000 with many residents working in Truro. Across the A30 on the fairly flat A390 there are important commuter destinations such as Treliske Hospital, Truro College, Richard Lander and Threemilstone Business Park, all just 6 to 7 miles away. Cyclists could also use the Park and Ride to get to the City Centre. The 2011 census had recorded 1000 daily travel to work trips from St Agnes.
Failure to recognise suppressed demand and follow national policies
We felt that Highways England had failed to appreciate a demand which was suppressed due to the danger of crossing Chiverton roundabout. They should have given weight to the government funded Propensity to Cycle study which predicts that cycle to work rates could rise to up to 23% along a large proportion of the St Agnes to Truro route when combining Dutch level provision and the use of e-bikes. By not recognising suppressed demand Highways England had failed to follow national policies to encourage cycling by providing good quality cycling infrastructure. See s 1 of our 'Further Information' document (see above for link)
The opportunity of Designated Funds money
Although not including a cycle bridge in the main scheme Highways England did present the chance to build one, on or near the B3277/A390 alignment, outside the main scheme using funding known as ‘Designated Funds’. This is a pot of money for enhancement projects in the vicinity of major road schemes including projects for improving provision for Walking Cycling and Horseriding (WCH). However there was no guarantee that a bridge could be delivered in the short Designated Funds spend deadline of March 2021. Even if it could be built by the deadline it would be 2 m higher than necessary as the A30 would be lowered at this location in late 2022 as part of the main road scheme.
However, we suggested that Designated Funds did give the opportunity to build shared use paths along the B3277 and A390 to give an entirely safe and direct route between St Agnes and Truro. This could bring about the level of usage predicted in the Propensity to Cycle Study. Highways England and Cornwall Council began to work on plans and costings for a Designated Funds bridge and shared paths. Given that there would not be much demand for walking and horseriding on this route especially along the A390 we saw it as mainly a ‘Cycle Highway’. This also reflected Cornwall Council’s own ambition set out in correspondence with us:
“….As you are aware the Council supports the provision of a high quality walking and cycling link at Chiverton roundabout as part of its wider aspiration for an exemplar ‘Cycle Highway’ scheme linking St Agnes with Truro…’.
Our campaign begins
We ran a campaign during the A30 scheme pre-application consultation period which went from January to March 2018. We called for a cycle bridge or underpass (which ever was most feasible) to be guaranteed in the main scheme to complement cycle paths built with Designated Funds. We pointed out to the public how Highways England had failed to gauge suppressed demand and how they had failed in their remit to encourage cycling.
We started with a rally at Chiverton roundabout where over 100 people turned out with their bikes on a grey January day. The aim was to encourage as many people as possible to take part in the pre-application consultation. We spread the word via social media, our website, and good old fashioned emails passed on through workplaces. We used images and always included the link to the Highways England consultation form. We secured an article on Cornwall Live and wrote a feature for the local St Agnes parish magazine. By just spending a minute or two to write a few words in the form anyone young or old could play their part.
A couple of weeks before the end of the consultation period we organised another event with a group of people cycling with a map of the ‘Cycle Highway’ between gatherings in St Agnes and Truro. When the consultation results came out the ‘Walking Cycling and Horse Riding provision’ was the main category of concern raised on the Chiverton section of the scheme with 219 out of 590 people, 37% raising it. See s 2 of 'Further Information'
Highways England’s response– an unsatisfactory underpass
In a Radio Cornwall interview the Highways England project manager Josh Hodder said “We did a lot of survey work to identify where the desired routes were for cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians....It didn’t identify Chiverton Cross as a desirable route. Following the feedback from the consultation it’s been raised that this is absolutely a desirable route for people to get from St Agnes down to Truro and something needs to be done there”.
However Highways England’s solution to this late recognition of demand was to include an entirely unsatisfactory underpass in their planning application. Not indicated on the published plans, only our enquiries elicited that it would be 70m long and just 4m wide. This would be unpleasant and intimidating to use especially in the evenings and for lone cyclists making it unsuitable for year round commuting. Also it was in a less direct position and would add to journey times. We felt its location and dimensions were dictated by a desire to minimize costs and to get the road scheme through planning rather than provide the best cycle crossing. Click on our annotated version of Highway England's plan (opposite) showing the location of the underpass. Also see s3 of 'Further Information' for more detail on the inadequacy of the underpass
Indeed Highways England continued to work with Cornwall Council on the possibility of a Designated Funds bridge as part of a shared use route. We felt this tacitly acknowledged that the underpass was unsatisfactory and that, despite their arguments to the contrary, a bridge in the main scheme was feasible . We argued that a bridge in the main scheme due to its lower height would be even more feasible. See s 4 & 5 of 'Further Information' on why we felt the bridge should be in the main scheme
Our campaign continued
When the planning application (Development Consent Order) was submitted there was another opportunity for the public to have their say. This time by making 'relevant representations’ to the Planning Inspectorate, the government body which would examine the application. We now campaigned for the
underpass to be removed and the Designated Funds bridge to be put into the main scheme so its delivery could be guaranteed. Again the aim was to get local people to submit comments. We put all our arguments with links to the plans and comment forms onto our website and sent out emails and social media posts with links. We listed documents highlighting the safety concerns of underpasses. We had stalls at local venues and on roadsides. We also submitted our own Written Representations
Before Christmas 2018 Highways England published the ‘relevant representations’ made in response to their planning application. Out of the total 117 representations an overwhelming 86 (74%) related to the inadequacy of the proposed underpass and the desire for a cycle bridge at Chiverton.
A solution is found
The level of response was crucial and the Planning Inspector made the crossing one of the principle issues in the subsequent public examination. She requested a ‘Statement of Common Ground’ between Truro Cycling Campaign and Highways England. For Highways England the aim of this was to arrive at a position agreeable to both parties and which would help Highways England obtain their planning consent. We used this process to seek sufficient guarantees/reassurances to ensure the delivery of a bridge through the Designated Funds.
In February 2019 Highways England announced a £19 m funding package for the bridge, St Agnes to Threemilestone cycle paths and the other shared use routes that would become known as the Saints Trails. It included £17 Designated Funds and £2m match funding from Cornwall Council. The allocation of the funding was a crucial first guarantee for us.
But there remained the issue of the March 2021 spend deadline for the Designated Funds bridge. Following meetings with Highways England and Cornwall Council we received written assurances that the Council’s match funding could be targeted on the bridge thus avoiding the early Designated Funds spend deadline and allowing road and bridge construction to happen at the same time. We also believed that this was the most efficient way to deliver the scheme in terms of public funding. The lower height of the bridge would also help ensure it achieved the necessary planning consents, particularly in view of its position next to the World Heritage Site. We were now confident that a bridge could be designed, constructed and landscaped in such a way to be acceptable in planning terms.
Truro Cycling Campaign withdraws its objections to the main scheme
In view of the above reassurances on the delivery of the Designated Funds bridge we were able to take a pragmatic view and withdraw our objections to the underpass and the fact that the bridge was not in the main scheme. We subsequently completed the Statement of Common Ground with Highways England.
The level of community support for cycling shown in the consultation process helped Cornwall Council in attracting a record amount of national funding. The contribution of our Campaign group was recognised by Cornwall Council’s Portfolio Holder for Transport, Geoff Brown who said
'Truro Cycling Campaign played a leading role in encouraging the local community to respond to Highways England's planning application. Over 70% of responses related to the need for a cycle bridge - a number hitherto not seen by Highways England. It was this level of response that secured the funding for the bridge and showed a level of support for cycling which helped the Council attract the wider and very significant funding award for the Saints Trails”
Page updated 28th May 2020
Rally at Chiverton
St Agnes to Truro Cycle Highway
Rally at Chiverton
Cycle bridge over A30 at Lanhydrock
Our annotated version of Highways England plan showing location of the underpass
Flyer encouraging people to respond to pre-application consultation
Rally at Chiverton
Gathering at St Agnes to send off group of cyclists taking cycle highway map to Truro
Rally on Lemon Quay