Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

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jackal
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Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by jackal »

This short relief road was completed in November 2019. As the council note:

"unfortunately, the new relief road remains unopened until the southern section is completed by local housing developers. This is expected late 2022."

This is a similar situation to the M49 Avonmouth Junction. When will road authorities learn not to rely on the good will of developers?

Website: https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/tra ... t-project/
OSM: https://www.sabre-roads.org.uk/maps/ind ... 15&layer=0
Google Maps: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.60719 ... a=!3m1!1e3
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M4 Cardiff
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by M4 Cardiff »

jackal wrote: Thu Nov 26, 2020 12:49 This short relief road was completed in November 2019. As the council note:

"unfortunately, the new relief road remains unopened until the southern section is completed by local housing developers. This is expected late 2022."

This is a similar situation to the M49 Avonmouth Junction. When will road authorities learn not to rely on the good will of developers?

Website: https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/tra ... t-project/
OSM: https://www.sabre-roads.org.uk/maps/ind ... 15&layer=0
Google Maps: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.60719 ... a=!3m1!1e3
I would have thought that the council could have put conditions in the planning permission that the developer part of the road had to be completed prior to a certain critical milestone with the build, or selling the first property
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The Deuce
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by The Deuce »

The road has already been named Bowl Barrow Way https://wego.here.com/?map=51.60694,-0.62296,16,normal after a local historical feature https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/ ... ry/1013932. Always nice to see a local connection.
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by marconaf »

Know this area very well as until a couple of years ago I was based at Wilton Park and lived in one of the houses now due to be demolished for the central section.

Military family houses, ancient and in poor condition but given the locale a 3 bed was being rented at circa 1700pcm!

Gone past several times, seems slow progress on changes bar a new southern access road. From the look of it the Wilton Pk tower block will go which is a pity - 2nd highest free standing brick structure in UK and hence condemned decades ago for a long list of defects including movenent. Rest of military site also to be obliterated bar officers’ family housing which must need a major refurb also. Rumlur was years back that they’d be the social housing bit, prices starting at 750k...

Surprised though about the tower, was up the top a few times including one fireworks night which was soectacular, could see London Eye and a 30mile radius of fireworks!!! Would have thought flats in that would be worth millions.

From a roads perspective, the central bit has two roundabouts in, not sure why the 2nd. Kind of essential to properly connect the site and avoid more gridlock at London End.
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Big Nick
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by Big Nick »

Has the 'Wilton Hilton' tower block been demolished yet? Has much happened to the rest of the site?
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A303Chris
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by A303Chris »

I know a lot about this, so what I can say I will say.

The developer said all along that they would not be able to construct there part of the road unless they got a certain quantum of development on the site, which meant extending outside the built form of the existing area. The issue being the site is in green belt. Part of the argument was that while a significant floor area was within the tower, if this was placed on the ground a considerably area of land would have been classified as built land than actually is now.

Also a good argument was, would a tower be allowed in such a predominate position now, in the Green Belt and been visible for a considerable area, from as far as way as the high ground near Bracknell.

The MoD want to dispose of the land at a market value, while the local politicians want a new road to bypass Old Beaconsfield but want a lower quantum of development proposed and removal of the tower to enhance the Green Belt. The costs to remove the tower are very high, so the developer has said you either give me a quantum of development I require to make the redevelopment viable or I don't develop and I don't build the road. They have said to the council as the route is on a protected line, the council can design a scheme and go through the compulsory purchase route.

Buckinghamshire funded there bit of the road and built it before any agreement with the development to build their section had been signed. Bucks only got funding for the northern section as they told the DfT an agreement was in place with the developer to build there section.

So as usual it's down to local layman politicians who want their cake and eat it and do not understand issues of vilibility, land promotion, construction costs, demolition costs etc. Mr developer will pay for our infrastructure, but we don't want your development.

The same is with the new M49 junction, the DfT built this, but South Gloucester have said the developer who is building the rest of the link can't have the quantum of development they want, so they are not progressing the road.

Unfortunately both show the flaws in the system which allow layman locals to make huge decisions with no experience and knowledge of planning and highway laws, and secondly how knowledge and experience in the public sector has fallen significantly over the last 20 years.

I started in Local Government when the county surveyor was a chartered engineer and the county planner was a member of RTPI. The engineers and planners were either on training schemes, degrees in relevant disciplines or professionally qualified in there discipline.

When I left my second stay in Local Government six years ago, the Head of Environmental Services responsible for highways and planning was not a professional in either discipline, but had a degree in leisure management. The same was happening through the department. When I left, I was told don't go you are the only professional engineer we have who can give evidence at inquiries, hearings, court cases. This is occurring through the country, now and some of the responses I receive from officers are in fact embarrassing. So much so is we do not respond, so we can use it as evidence in inquiries, to show incompetence and ensure costs are awarded for our clients.

So Buckinghamshire are hopefully for 2022, but even that is wishful thinking. So a new road built at a cost of £6 million is unused for three years because of petty politics. And don't forget our MP's start at this level, says it all.
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MFB
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by MFB »

A303Chris wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 14:23 I know a lot about this, so what I can say I will say.

The developer said all along that they would not be able to construct there part of the road unless they got a certain quantum of development on the site, which meant extending outside the built form of the existing area. The issue being the site is in green belt. Part of the argument was that while a significant floor area was within the tower, if this was placed on the ground a considerably area of land would have been classified as built land than actually is now.

Also a good argument was, would a tower be allowed in such a predominate position now, in the Green Belt and been visible for a considerable area, from as far as way as the high ground near Bracknell.

The MoD want to dispose of the land at a market value, while the local politicians want a new road to bypass Old Beaconsfield but want a lower quantum of development proposed and removal of the tower to enhance the Green Belt. The costs to remove the tower are very high, so the developer has said you either give me a quantum of development I require to make the redevelopment viable or I don't develop and I don't build the road. They have said to the council as the route is on a protected line, the council can design a scheme and go through the compulsory purchase route.

Buckinghamshire funded there bit of the road and built it before any agreement with the development to build their section had been signed. Bucks only got funding for the northern section as they told the DfT an agreement was in place with the developer to build there section.

So as usual it's down to local layman politicians who want their cake and eat it and do not understand issues of vilibility, land promotion, construction costs, demolition costs etc. Mr developer will pay for our infrastructure, but we don't want your development.

The same is with the new M49 junction, the DfT built this, but South Gloucester have said the developer who is building the rest of the link can't have the quantum of development they want, so they are not progressing the road.

Unfortunately both show the flaws in the system which allow layman locals to make huge decisions with no experience and knowledge of planning and highway laws, and secondly how knowledge and experience in the public sector has fallen significantly over the last 20 years.

I started in Local Government when the county surveyor was a chartered engineer and the county planner was a member of RTPI. The engineers and planners were either on training schemes, degrees in relevant disciplines or professionally qualified in there discipline.

When I left my second stay in Local Government six years ago, the Head of Environmental Services responsible for highways and planning was not a professional in either discipline, but had a degree in leisure management. The same was happening through the department. When I left, I was told don't go you are the only professional engineer we have who can give evidence at inquiries, hearings, court cases. This is occurring through the country, now and some of the responses I receive from officers are in fact embarrassing. So much so is we do not respond, so we can use it as evidence in inquiries, to show incompetence and ensure costs are awarded for our clients.

So Buckinghamshire are hopefully for 2022, but even that is wishful thinking. So a new road built at a cost of £6 million is unused for three years because of petty politics. And don't forget our MP's start at this level, says it all.
Thanks for the summary. I drive through this area fairly often and always wondered where that ghost exit on the A355 roundabout and shiny new road surface that isn't open went.
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by WHBM »

A303Chris wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 14:23 I started in Local Government when the county surveyor was a chartered engineer and the county planner was a member of RTPI. The engineers and planners were either on training schemes, degrees in relevant disciplines or professionally qualified in there discipline.

When I left my second stay in Local Government six years ago, the Head of Environmental Services responsible for highways and planning was not a professional in either discipline, but had a degree in leisure management.
I suspect many of us are in this position. By the time I finished university it was apparent to me that the "professional" posts were fast becoming humdrum clerical, so I ended up quite quickly designing and selling things to them instead, which has been far more worthwhile - actually selling to their mainstream suppliers, as local authorities themselves I find impossible to deal with directly and refuse to let the team waste time and our overheads on them.

It's not only the managers of leisure centres etc who get into the mainstream positions, it's the elected representatives themselves. I should have left the course in the first weeks; we had a very senior government civil servant came to do a presentation, who told us "the greatest decision you will ever make is whether your window is open or not - all decisions are made by politicians". He also said "the most important aspect of your job, before any other, is that The Minister is not embarrassed". So with this bunch of self-opinionated know-nothings in charge, should have left them to it.

Now I have to say this story is one of a developer strongarming the councillors, a familiar tale. Will it come as a surprise that the whole foot-dragging approach will have been in their mind in advance, and in their cash flow plan ? Now there was nothing in Transport Planning at university, and doubtless not in the Leisure Management one either, about how to handle things in a negotiation. It's basic human business ability, and one which an actual developer will be life's expert in - that's why they turn up in their 2020 Range Rover while the council head comes in a three year old Honda - or on a bicycle. If both reversed their roles for the day the outcome would be the complete opposite.
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by marconaf »

Big Nick wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 12:28 Has the 'Wilton Hilton' tower block been demolished yet? Has much happened to the rest of the site?
Who refers to it as ‘Wilton Hilton’?

Never heard in in 7 years of being there and i the town. I know it was always the “spy school” which reflected the wartime SOE/Senior German Officer debreifing role and post war language use by MoD and FO which in the Cold War was not advertised. It was ideal for thst really, close to London giving easy access to recruit staff from an unrivalled pool of foreign language speakers. Moving it to near Swindon I suspect has rather crimped that fundamental need of a language school...

Having been inside the tower it is a time warp from the late 90s when it was abandonded as the site was due to be disposed and the costs to remedy its issues were too high. Due to need for linguists it stayed open for Iraq/Afghan but closed once the latter was on windown. It had become a bit derelict (the site generally) by then although money started to arrive for things just as it closed (with MoD, always a sign the place is about to go!).

The tower rooms were pretty good actually, suites on some floors and communal facilities on others (suites higher up for more senior officers with better viwes!). At the top was a big tv room - the movment was significant there even in light winds.

It was latterly used by various organisations for tower warfare practice, helicopter drops onto the top and ladders at the bottom. Spectacular to watch! Rooms had targets and loads of simunition detritus (sub calibre paintball rounds).

As for permission, it’d never have got it but thus was the MoD in the 60s - demolished the original Wilton House and built a 60s architectural dreamplace. The adjoining Officers Mess is upside down, all public rooms on 1st floor - aided by a 1st floor bridge to the tower (long gone).

It was quite a place really and has been in a lot of tv since as the site has been used by filming companies both for storage if vehicles and kit and to shoot. Endeavour and New Tricks in particular.

In terms of the development site, it was very obvious that the land to the south between the site and the A40 was being primed/wanted for development, pretty scratty land, no real access to it and used by ad hoc dirt bikes (their noise could be heard all weekend over the site!). I was surprised that isnt in the development but having also lived in the Old Town and been a member of the Residents association this is an extreme NIMBY area where any change is incredibly obstinately opposed, by well resourced, educated, connected and influential people.

I’m not convinced this road will do that much - the 2 slow roundabouts on it wont help (vs 1 via London End) and I reckon its a 66/33 split of traffic is going down the A40 through the old town rather than A355 Amersham way. So only a 3rd of that roundabout northbound will be removed whilst the real congestion was Eastbound along the Old town - perhaps with the conflicting move gone (and a lack of southbound A355 also which was probably 80/20 majority going A355 as A40stoej traffice spuld turn off earlier) that’ll be better.

With the Minerva way road closed - that was a hell of an exit to get out of given the sheer unending traffic coming from Old Town/A355 South - and going into in from either the Old Town or coming up the A355 caused many near misses as nobody expected you to be turning across into it and everyone has to be aggressive there to get out - as a cyclist one really had to own the road. Not sure the situation will be higely better now that road is a cycleway from the estate into town...
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by JosephA22 »

marconaf wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 13:23 suites higher up for more senior officers with better viwes!
That last word works both as "views" and "wives"...
marconaf
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by marconaf »

Hah!

Althoughthe wives had the officers’ houses. 60/70s things - freezing with striped pine stairs and ceilings! Originally metal windows replaced in 90s by UPVC but they didnt realise the originals were partly weight bearing so all developed cracks in the walls - we had measurement devices on ours that twice a year someone came round to check!

The senior officers houses - 3? of them, were much larger. The rest were of two type 3/4 bed, but all on very large plots with acres of spare and unused space around them. Expect once sold to see crazy extensions go up to use that space. Surprised they wont demolish the lot and start again at 5x the debsity.

The soliders houses, the terrwced ones are newer and ok albeit very small on tiny plots, but the white ones (which will I believe go for the southern part of the link road) were quite old and grotty.

All being rented out but I feel for people paying £1500pm plus for them.

Its a lovely estate to be on though, easy access to old town and footpaths to the north. Massive open space in the middle and I think it’ll be a nice estate one day. Dont envy trying to get round new or old towns with all those extra people for shops though...
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M4 Cardiff
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by M4 Cardiff »

I wonder whether Pyebush roundabout will get signalised once this road is open. I have been doing a bit of site work at Wilton Park over the last few days, and it is a right pain to get onto the roundabout from the northern entry.
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A303Chris
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by A303Chris »

M4 Cardiff wrote: Mon Dec 14, 2020 09:45 I wonder whether Pyebush roundabout will get signalised once this road is open. I have been doing a bit of site work at Wilton Park over the last few days, and it is a right pain to get onto the roundabout from the northern entry.
That is probably due to the sheer weight of traffic coming down the A40 (A355) multiplex from the old town mini roundabout. When the relief road is open, that traffic will reduce by at last 50% as it will be coming straight down the A355 and given the enormous size of the roundabout, it should be able to cope.
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marconaf
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by marconaf »

Why is that roundabout so huge?

Plans for the dual carriageway from the M40 to fly through grade separated on a “proper relief” road to Amersham? Passive provision? It felt like a northern entrance was always supposed to be part of it.

There is a grotty underpass on the south side for pedestrians to use - the old A40 line I think.

I can imagine its a challenge to get out onto from Wilton Pk as coming down onto the roundabout from Beaconsfield its a fast alignment with relatively little conflicting traffic (from M40 direction turning east along A40) to interupt it and that would also be going fast. Its kind of two lanes but not marked for it.

Whilst the traffic will reduce, and indeed be coming out of that exit, the alignment will still favour the old town route. Factor in this relief road has 2 small (ie slow) roundabouts in its short length and I’m not convinced it’ll abstract as much as you might think. It’ll possibly be faster (or neutral) via London End roundabout, unless that is getting messed with as well.
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by MFB »

marconaf wrote: Mon Dec 14, 2020 12:07 Why is that roundabout so huge?

Plans for the dual carriageway from the M40 to fly through grade separated on a “proper relief” road to Amersham? Passive provision? It felt like a northern entrance was always supposed to be part of it.

There is a grotty underpass on the south side for pedestrians to use - the old A40 line I think.

I can imagine its a challenge to get out onto from Wilton Pk as coming down onto the roundabout from Beaconsfield its a fast alignment with relatively little conflicting traffic (from M40 direction turning east along A40) to interupt it and that would also be going fast. Its kind of two lanes but not marked for it.

Whilst the traffic will reduce, and indeed be coming out of that exit, the alignment will still favour the old town route. Factor in this relief road has 2 small (ie slow) roundabouts in its short length and I’m not convinced it’ll abstract as much as you might think. It’ll possibly be faster (or neutral) via London End roundabout, unless that is getting messed with as well.
This is now open and man those two mini roundabouts are annoying! Your scepticism is founded.
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by M4 Cardiff »

Yes it is an annoying exit onto the big roundabout (I have not used the new road, but I have undertaken some sitwork at the construction site there). I would expect it to get signalised at some point as it will probably cause collisions with drivers either getting impatient, or simply misjudging speed of circulating traffic.
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by A303Chris »

MFB wrote: Sun May 22, 2022 07:00 This is now open and man those two mini roundabouts are annoying! Your scepticism is founded.
Only in this country can we build a relief road which results in going through more roundabouts than the road it replaces!!!
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by M19 »

That’s because we’re in an era of housing led/dependent infrastructure delivery.
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by Piatkow »

A303Chris wrote: Wed May 25, 2022 14:01
MFB wrote: Sun May 22, 2022 07:00 This is now open and man those two mini roundabouts are annoying! Your scepticism is founded.
Only in this country can we build a relief road which results in going through more roundabouts than the road it replaces!!!
As a local(ish) resident all I can say is that it still beats the queue at London End.

I do wonder when a bus service will be provided to serve the thoughtfully provided bus shelters.
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Re: Unopened A355 Beaconsfield Eastern Relief Road

Post by A428_Owen »

marconaf wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 13:23
Big Nick wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 12:28 Has the 'Wilton Hilton' tower block been demolished yet? Has much happened to the rest of the site?
Who refers to it as ‘Wilton Hilton’?

Never heard in in 7 years of being there and i the town. I know it was always the “spy school” which reflected the wartime SOE/Senior German Officer debreifing role and post war language use by MoD and FO which in the Cold War was not advertised. It was ideal for thst really, close to London giving easy access to recruit staff from an unrivalled pool of foreign language speakers. Moving it to near Swindon I suspect has rather crimped that fundamental need of a language school...

Having been inside the tower it is a time warp from the late 90s when it was abandonded as the site was due to be disposed and the costs to remedy its issues were too high. Due to need for linguists it stayed open for Iraq/Afghan but closed once the latter was on windown. It had become a bit derelict (the site generally) by then although money started to arrive for things just as it closed (with MoD, always a sign the place is about to go!).

The tower rooms were pretty good actually, suites on some floors and communal facilities on others (suites higher up for more senior officers with better viwes!). At the top was a big tv room - the movment was significant there even in light winds.

It was latterly used by various organisations for tower warfare practice, helicopter drops onto the top and ladders at the bottom. Spectacular to watch! Rooms had targets and loads of simunition detritus (sub calibre paintball rounds).

As for permission, it’d never have got it but thus was the MoD in the 60s - demolished the original Wilton House and built a 60s architectural dreamplace. The adjoining Officers Mess is upside down, all public rooms on 1st floor - aided by a 1st floor bridge to the tower (long gone).

It was quite a place really and has been in a lot of tv since as the site has been used by filming companies both for storage if vehicles and kit and to shoot. Endeavour and New Tricks in particular.

In terms of the development site, it was very obvious that the land to the south between the site and the A40 was being primed/wanted for development, pretty scratty land, no real access to it and used by ad hoc dirt bikes (their noise could be heard all weekend over the site!). I was surprised that isnt in the development but having also lived in the Old Town and been a member of the Residents association this is an extreme NIMBY area where any change is incredibly obstinately opposed, by well resourced, educated, connected and influential people.

I’m not convinced this road will do that much - the 2 slow roundabouts on it wont help (vs 1 via London End) and I reckon its a 66/33 split of traffic is going down the A40 through the old town rather than A355 Amersham way. So only a 3rd of that roundabout northbound will be removed whilst the real congestion was Eastbound along the Old town - perhaps with the conflicting move gone (and a lack of southbound A355 also which was probably 80/20 majority going A355 as A40stoej traffice spuld turn off earlier) that’ll be better.

With the Minerva way road closed - that was a hell of an exit to get out of given the sheer unending traffic coming from Old Town/A355 South - and going into in from either the Old Town or coming up the A355 caused many near misses as nobody expected you to be turning across into it and everyone has to be aggressive there to get out - as a cyclist one really had to own the road. Not sure the situation will be higely better now that road is a cycleway from the estate into town...
I have worked at the site as well and can confirm that the exit from Minerva Way was very problematic. I wonder also about the difficulties of removing the tower block and asbestos from various 60s-era buildings.
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