Why Hetton Bypass is not needed

The communities of Easington Lane, Hetton and Houghton have been adequately served for decades by the same bus stops, conveniently positioned at strategic locations along the A182.

Wednesday, 12th December 2018, 10:37 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th December 2018, 10:40 am

Recently however, two new stops have appeared a short distance from existing stops – for what reason?

Coincidentally, after many planning refusals, yet more new houses are being built adjacent to one of the most notorious accident black-spots, on one of the areas most notorious roads – North Road, Hetton; this is despite the hundreds of new houses recently constructed or under construction in the “coalfield” area.

These two separate events would appear to be unconnected – but are they?

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In the early 1990s Sunderland City Council issued its planning document or “Unitary Development Plan” (UDP).

This document included the construction of a “Hetton Bypass” as part of a nonsensical “Southern Radial Route” that cut across open countryside and green belt land; land that was described in other parts of the document as: “important settlement breaks and green wedges”; “amenity open space” and “much needed recreational land east of Fencehouses”.

In the years following the publication of its UDP, the city council, in my opinion, began to invoke conditions along the A182 that would induce congestion and thereby justify the bypass.

Several sets of traffic lights were needlessly installed along the A182; lay-by’s that served bus stops at Easington Lane and Shiney Row were paved over, ensuring that stationary buses would obstruct traffic flow and Easington Lane School was redeveloped on the opposite side of the main road to which most children lived.

Now in an effort to compound the congestion-inducing tactics of the 1990s, two extra bus stops have been strategically placed on the A182 to further obstruct traffic flow and more traffic is being created on North Road by allowing a housing development, not on a brown-field site but on a green-field site next to an accident “black-spot”.

A Hetton Bypass is neither required nor desirable.

The majority of traffic in the Easington Lane, Hetton and Houghton areas is generated by local people, either travelling to/from their place of work or visiting their friends and relatives or shopping in these areas and thus it is not suited to a bypass.

Besides the need is to attract people to these town centres, not divert people away from them .

If a bypass was to take traffic away from the Easington Lane/Hetton/Houghton areas then local shops and businesses, already struggling to survive, would lose a lot of passing trade, risking more closures and further degeneration.

If a bypass did not take traffic away from these centres then millions of pounds would have been wasted and more of our farmland and countryside would have been sacrificed for what – a playground for boy-racers. What’s more, building additional roads is encouraging greater car usage when reducing car usage should be the priority.

More disturbingly, the bypass would lead to pressure for further green-field development, both up to the bypass and beyond the bypass – as highlighted in a report several years ago by the Council for the Protection of Rural England.

Even in the USA, where the car is “king”, concern has been expressed about the undesirable effects of continuous road building.

In particular it has been found that the interstate highway “rings” around older cities have produced a “doughnut of development” around them, eventually sucking their life out.

G Parkin,