Penzance roadworks 'will finish destruction of our town'
CONSTRUCTION of a roundabout to service a new supermarket could lead to eight months of roadworks at the gateway to Penzance.
The new road layout is among plans by supermarket giant Sainsbury's for its store on the old heliport site, and will be built between two already in place along this stretch of the A30.
The roundabout, which is being funded by the supermarket, is being combined with Cornwall Council's "wider aspirations" for the trunk road, which include a reduction in the speed limit from 50mph to 40mph and improved footways and cycle routes in the area.
However, there are fears that disruption, delays and congestion from the works will have a damaging impact on the town.
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"If you make it difficult for people to get into Penzance and couple that with high car parking prices and out-of-town shopping, there isn't much else that can be done to destroy the town," said Peter Wood, manager of the Wharfside Shopping Centre.
"Talk about ticking boxes."
It is estimated the highways works will take 32 weeks to complete and they are set to begin in April, subject to legal agreements.
Mr Wood said the timing couldn't be worse and he was worried it would hit the tourism industry and harm the local economy.
"If you block the road for whatever reason you're slowing down traffic and you're sending a message to holidaymakers that we'd love them to come to Penzance but it'll be aggravating getting here," he said. "This will have a major impact, and not just for Penzance but for people travelling on further towards Land's End."
The Sainsbury's development at Eastern Green was given planning approval by Cornwall Council in October.
British International Helicopters sold the land to the supermarket after it shut down its air service to the Isles of Scilly last year.
Along with speed restrictions and better pedestrian and cycle links, the A30 development also includes a new bus stop along Jelbert Way.
Around £53,000 of the Section 106 money Sainsbury's agreed to pay to the town for infrastructure improvements as a condition of planning consent will be used to fund these works.
The roundabout bill is part of the supermarket development and is also designed to cater for traffic from a future park-and-ride service operating from the site.
Cornwall Council will carry out the works on behalf of Sainsbury's, using its in-house contractor Cormac Solutions Ltd (CSL).
The authority said while the roadworks might cause some short-term delays to traffic, the council's own streetworks team would work with CSL to keep disruption to a minimum.
Ideas to limit the impact on motorists included phasing the works so they took place outside peak times, reducing each side of the carriageway to one lane and carrying out work overnight.
There would also be discussions over possibly staggering the development so it stopped during the bumper six-week summer holiday period.
"The team will approve the phases and layout of traffic management and place restrictions on CSL's access to the road network where appropriate," said a spokeswoman at County Hall.
"CSL's performance will be closely monitored and appropriate action taken in the event that temporary traffic arrangements need to be amended."
Sainsbury's declined to offer anyone for interview by The Cornishman and instead issued a statement saying the introduction of a roundabout on the A30 had been fully considered in a detailed transport assessment.
"Highways, and access to the store specifically, was subject to extensive consultation throughout the planning application process and discussed at length with the Highways Agency and Cornwall Council to ensure we came up with the best possible solution," the statement said.
"Our consultation also showed that many people felt that the introduction of a roundabout at this point would in fact slow traffic down along the A30, making it safer.
"It would also be consistent with Cornwall Council's aspirations to improve the gateway to Penzance."
The new Sainsbury's store is expected to open for business before Christmas.