Quite simply, Cold Ashby is a small village with a local road running through it that’s intended for use by local people. The road is flanked on both sides by residential properties as you would expect and it's difficult to navigate. However, as a result of miscalculations and general bad planning on the main road networks we have ended up by default being a major route through to several towns, major development areas and the M1! This situation has been bad for some time, it's getting worse and it's going to continue getting worse in the future because through the further development of the areas noted above, quite clearly more traffic is going to want to get to them and at the moment there is no other viable route. What concerns us is that there appears to be a total lack of understanding by the authorities that there is a problem and that ultimately this will impact on them too and this is why we have decided to take action.
Cold Ashby sits between the A5199 and the A428 on what was the B4036 linking Daventry to Market Harborough. When the A14 was opened in 1994 the local “B” road was reclassified to a “classified unnumbered road” or what is commonly referred to as a "C" road (A classified unnumbered road will be of lower significance than a B road and be of primarily local importance, but will perform a more important function than an unclassified road) and a 7.5 tonne weight restriction added. We assume as the planners envisaged that with a major trunk road just a mile or so away traffic would be reduced to just local traffic to such an extent that it was no longer necessary to maintain the road to "B" class levels. Unfortunately because of some flaws in the original design of the A14/M1/M6 (Catthorpe) interchange, major delays between it and Jct1 of the A14 (the turn off closest to Cold Ashby) became more or less a daily occurrence and as a result and as the A14 got busier, more drivers decided that a far better route, especially if you wanted to go to or from Daventry or Jct 18 on the M1 (yes...can you believe you couldn’t access the southbound M1 from the A14 or vice versa!!), would be to use the "C" road through Cold Ashby. The result was that far from reducing traffic the A14 increased traffic to the point that a vehicle count carried out by Northants Police in 2007 identified in excess of 17,000 vehicles a week travelling through the village and just as concerning, literally dozens of commercial vehicles exceeding the 7.5 tonne weight limit were also using the same route.
For information, our own traffic count indicates that well in excess of 20,000 vehicles a week now use the road.
In 2003 a scheme was approved to improve the Catthorpe interchange to a “free flow all access junction” allowing traffic to move easily in all directions between the A14, M6 and M1. Clearly this was exceptionally good news for Cold Ashby and for the general travelling public. It really made a lot of sense. Unfortunately however, in 2006 after the scheme had been costed it was concluded (by the highways authorities) that it “could not be delivered within the approved budget” and a value management review was undertaken. The review was carried out and indicated "that a restricted movement option may perform better in environmental and economic terms if formally assessed." This we believe to be jargon for…"if we make the junction limited access we can save enough money to make the project economically viable and by putting the word environmental in the sentence ahead of the word economic we can even make it sound like an advantage, so let’s carry out some detailed analysis so that we can definitely come to this conclusion!"
The bottom line is, however, that there is no way a limited access junction was ever going to perform better than an all access junction and in environmental terms, whilst the revised scheme might have taken up less space, taking traffic from major roads and forcing it onto entirely unsuitable local roads was never going to be environmental best practice or support the plans for future growth of the immediate area around it. Whilst the plan was challenged and not just by us but many other local authorities and businesses, sadly once all the consultations and reviews were completed, perhaps not unsurprisingly, all the data supported the original view and it was a limited access junction that was approved and subsequently this has been built.
Whilst we readily acknowledge that a free flowing junction between the M6 and A14 has reduced accidents and hold ups on the A14, disappointingly it has had very little positive impact on Cold Ashby. Despite the planners telling us that only a few people would want to go to or from the south via the A14 (and that those that did would be quite happy to do the 10 mile detour up the M6 to junction 1, do a U turn around the roundabout and then travel back on themselves), it has in reality turned out to be more than just a few people, and thanks to intelligent sat-nav most of them are taking the far more direct if unsuitable route through Cold Ashby... strange!
The major issue here is that more and more people want to get to and from the A14 from the growth areas listed below (areas and developments that were already busy but are now also designated areas for growth) and without an all access junction at Catthorpe to get to and from them therefore traffic comes through Cold Ashby to get to:-
Although most of these developments are nowhere near complete and whilst we fully accept that not everyone that lives or works there wants to get to and from the A14, clearly a lot of them do and Cold Ashby is already seeing the increase in what were untenable traffic levels to start with!
And this we're afraid is what’s at the root cause of the traffic issues we face, but sadly it's not the only reason why our traffic issues are unique and to understand this you need to look at the local specifics of our village.
Find out more about the specifics of the various issues by clicking below
The new Catthorpe interchange in action. A major improvement but not for Cold Ashby