PARENTS say they are being forced to put their children at risk crossing one of Plymouth’s busiest roads after a developer failed to build a crossing in a wrangle with the council.
The owners of the new homes at the Persimmon Homes’ Saltram Meadow development have bitterly complained for months about the dangerous conditions they face each day as they cross Billacombe Road. The council says the crossing should be in place and it has served a legal notice on the developer in a bid to force it into action.
Parents of young children are particularly angry at having to put themselves at risk, with the only current location to cross opposite Broxton Drive means pedestrians face standing in the road facing three lanes of traffic, with motorists travelling at at least 40mph and cars coming up behind them from the new development. With one solitary safe spot in the middle of Billacombe Road, set opposite the bus-stop, pedestrians crossing the other way face leaving the pavement on a blind bend, giving them a mere second or two to guess a safe moment to venture across the road.
Mum-of-four Josephine Southon, aged 30, said she ventures across the road at least four times a day, sometimes six. She has been in her new build since October and her two oldest children, aged eight and six, attend Pomphlett primary school, while her two youngest, aged four and 10 months, attend pre-school.
She said: “It’s a nightmare every time.
“We’ve almost been hit once or twice.
“I’ve complained so many times to the council and Persimmon Homes, but no-one seems to know who’s most responsible.
“You would’ve thought a crossing would’ve been done before the houses were put up.”
Kelly Tordoff, aged 29, also crossed with her four girls – aged 11, six, four and two – up to six times each day.
She said: “I have to leave home extra early each morning because you don’t know how long you’ll be waiting, trying to cross the road.
“It’s a nightmare in the morning when the road is full.
“My oldest will be starting senior school soon and I want her to be independent and go to school on her own, but at the moment I can’t chance it.
“When you speak to all the other residents in the development we’re all under the impression the crossing would be done before we moved in.
“Even a zebra crossing would be dangerous though. I don’t know why they just didn’t build a footbridge straight away.
“The cars come up and down at around 40mph, but some are going much faster and no-one stops.
“It shouldn’t take a child being knocked down to get a crossing. It’s should’ve been done before people moved in.”
Steve Molloy, crossing with his 20 month old daughter Phoebe, said he and others were led to believe there would be a crossing in place before the first home was built.
He said his 11-year-old son Ewan, who rides his bicycle each day to Oreston school, was recently hit by a motorist.
He said: “He meets a friend up at the bus stop along the road and this lady came out of slip road from Morrisons and clipped his back wheel as he was on his way to school.
“When you’re trying to cross you can be here for quite a few minutes. I called Persimmon Homes recently and they suggested it was the council dragging its heels.”
In December Plymouth City Council revealed it had served a Planning Contravention Notice on developer Persimmon Homes, pointing out the planning permission was based on a crossing being put in.
At the time, the council said the developer was “in the process of submitting drawings for a new signalised junction and we hope to see work begin as soon as the details have been finalised.”
In response to The Herald’s questions about a possible start date to the crossing, Daniel Heathcote, director in charge of Persimmon Homes Cornwall, said: “We are awaiting the final technical approval from Plymouth City Council.
“This will enable construction to commence in the spring 2016. The road space booking has been secured for April to July 2016 and our contractors are appointed and ready to commence works.”
Despite the developers’ assurances, council chiefs have now revealed the crossing may not be ready until July at the earliest.
A Plymouth City Council spokesperson said: “A surface-level crossing was due to be provided before the first properties were occupied and we have been pressing for these works to be carried out as a matter of urgency.
“The developer has now given our highways team notice that the works will be carried out between April and July, although the exact start date is yet to be confirmed. The works are expected to take three months to complete.
“The developer will also be required to make a contribution towards a footbridge as part of the Section 106 agreement. However, this is not due until phase three of the development, which is some time off.”