As an Altofts resident for over 30 years, I have seen the village expand into a small town and it is now is on the brink of expanding further, with plans approved for 140 more homes on what is described on the Linden Homes website as Ashfield Park, but known to us as the former railway sidings on Station Road, Altofts.
A plan approved by our planning committee last month in the absence of our one Altofts representative, Coun Joanne Hepworth. Barring a serious illness, I would have expected her attendance.
We all appreciate that homes are required to fulfil the current demands but unless our council actually plans ahead before granting this or any other building project, it is not just those currently living in the area who are going to be adversely affected, but also the new arrivals.
Unless someone has wrongly anticipated that the new owners of the 140 homes are childless, do not have cars, all work from home, walk everywhere and have no requirement for dental or healthcare in the area, the reality is there is no capacity for more children in the local schools, the cars are going to be in congestion whether they travel through Normanton or through Altofts and currently doctors surgeries and dentists are struggling to accommodate appointments without considerable delays.
Add this to the recent addition of homes in Pope Street and a proposal for a further 160 new homes there, to which residents have already sought support from Coun Box to reject this proposal, and it is no understatement to say that the two roads, which converge into one in Altofts, conveying traffic from the area to and from Wakefield are going to be well and truly congested.
The much trumpeted Eastern Relief Road for Wakefield-bound drivers via Altofts into Stanley is already experiencing a backlog of queuing traffic at the T- junction where Nellie Spindler Drive meets Neil Fox Way during peak traffic times in the morning.
Currently not a major problem, but as only a fraction of the homes destined to be built in the City Fields area are completed, when it reaches the target of 2,500 homes a right turn out of that junction will be after a lengthy delay, resulting in long traffic queues and instead of being an alternative route to the old route of Ferry Lane up to its junction with Aberford Road, motorists will start to use both.
The end result is standing traffic each morning around both junctions and with it will come pollution for all those living in the vicinity, which will be considerable by the time the City Fields project is finalised.
A simple question to our planning representatives and council planners – when the new relief road was being drawn up and was a blank canvas, why weren’t traffic lights installed at the junction? They may only be required at peak traffic times for now but will most likely be required full time when the rest of the homes, commercial outlets, etc, have been completed in the future.
I do suggest that to encourage the support of our councillors in fully appreciating the problems of the average commuters, not just through Altofts and now at Stanley, but also into Wakefield via other gridlocked routes, that the start times of their respective meetings be brought forward to 9am instead of the currently favoured 10am starts and their afternoon sessions were to start at 3pm instead of 2pm.
Then they can also take in the experience of peak hours congestion.
Gary Johnson, Altofts