Work on a controversial scheme to narrow a busy road in Truro has been halted by the council after businesses feared it would 'endanger lives'.
Businesses on Newham Industrial Estate campaigned for Cornwall Council to stop the work because of their safety concerns, even threatening to take the authority to the High Court.
Construction work had already started on the scheme, which would see the road reduced to a width of 6.5m to make way for a new cycle and foot path.
It's part of a bid to encourage greener travel routes in the city.
Opponents to the work, including a number of businesses on the estate, have previously said they believe it could end with a pedestrian or cyclist being seriously injured or even killed.
When the work was announced in March, Newham Business Improvement District (BID) said narrowing the road would give heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) just 10 centimetres of clearance.
The businesses feared that HGVs would be forced onto the new pavement or their large wing mirrors could catch pedestrians and cyclists causing serious injury or fatalities.
Lee Wills, of Conway Bailey Transport – Cornwall’s largest haulage company which operates a cold store at Newham – said last month: “My major concern is that reducing the width of the road, coupled with the additional cycle and foot traffic the plans potentially will bring to the area, is a recipe for disaster.
"The road layout in my opinion is already unsuitable and needs widening in places. Narrowing the road can only result in an increased risk to everyone involved.”
The Newham BID, which promotes and supports Newham as a business location, had instructed solicitors to seek permission from the High Court to judicially review the council’s decision to go ahead with the scheme and also threatened an injunction.
The BID had previously paid for an independent road safety assessment, which raised concerns about the scheme.
This led to Cornwall Council carrying out its own assessment, which found there was no need to change the proposals and the work to narrow the road started on May 2.
It was then that the BID – representing the industrial estate, which is home to 180 businesses employing 1,200 people – took legal action.
Following discussions between the council and the BID, the council issued an operational decision to its contractor CORMAC on May 25 to halt the project. Both parties have agreed to work together to try and reach a resolution without going to court.
BID chair Leigh Ibbotson said: “We’re glad that the council has seen sense to halt this scheme while a more sensible solution is sought. It’s a pity that we had to resort to legal action to make our case but we are committed to working with the council on a resolution.”
A spokesperson for the council said: “Cornwall Council issued an operational decision on May 25 to halt the Newham Scheme. The council and Newham BID are currently working together in an attempt to reach a resolution that does not involve court intervention and generally in respect of any future plans affecting the Newham Estate.”
Credit: Lee Trewhela, Local Democracy Reporter