This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 18/07/2018.
How widening the A23 could benefit Coulsdon at Hooley’s expense
Businesses and residents have spoken in favour of the plans but some Hooley businesses believe it will be at their expense.
Coulsdon businesses and residents believe proposals to widen part of the A23 will be a huge positive for the town despite their neighbours in Hooley threatening to do everything they can to stop the work taking place.
Highways England wants to expand a section of the main route from the M25 and M23 in to Croydon in an effort to tackle congestion.
Plans costing around £3.5 million have been put forward for a 0.6 mile stretch of Brighton Road through Hooley to be widened to two lanes in both directions.
Coulsdon residents believe it will make it easier for commuters and shoppers to get into and out of their town but businesses in Hooley have stated they will lose trade if the plans go through.
Chris Wright, a former Old Coulsdon councillor of 27 years, feels the work should have taken place when the Coulsdon Bypass was built in 2007.
He said: “It’s been a problem for a number of years and it should have happened when they installed the bypass, people forget just how bad it was going through Coulsdon then. But you’re getting some people saying now it should be widened all the way up to Purley Cross.
“You are always going to get these bottleneck issues and it is a change for progress but I feel for the people of Hooley, I really do, who will have to put up with the disruption, noise of the work and the road a lot closer to their front door.”
Neil Ridulfa, marketing manager at Cycling Made Easy, on Brighton Road (the A23), believes it will benefit Coulsdon for the road to be widened but is more concerned about how cyclists will be accommodated.
The 32-year-old, who also lives in Coulsdon, said: “If there is a removal of some of the pathway and green verges then a combined space [for cyclists and pedestrians] to replace it would be what should be done.
“From Lion Green Road down to Hooley you can suffer real traffic jams at rush hour and a lot of it is from people driving to Coulsdon South train station, and parking is a real issue, so more cycling would open it up.
“You see in London at places like Blackfriars Bridge how traffic can be managed better with bicycles being such a force and it’s a way to remove anxieties some have about cycling on the roads.”
Work is expected to get under way soon to expand the northbound side so that it has two lanes from the Starbucks at Dean Lane to the existing dual carriageway at the Netherne Drive junction.
The southbound carriageway will be widened to two lanes from the Netherne Drive junction to the Esso petrol station where they will then merge into one.
Preliminary work has already begun, with the expansion set to take over eight months to complete and the actual road widening earmarked to start in early 2019.
Despite Highways England stating it will take feedback from residents into account, Mark Bull, owner of Top Marks Tyres in Hooley feels a better consultation could have eased concerns.
The 49-year-old, who has been in the area for seven years, said: “It’s going to have an adverse effect on us.
“I was at a residents’ meeting on Saturday and they are up in arms. The shops don’t want to see the space in front of them disappear either.
“Rather than widen the road, they should put in a roundabout before you get to the Starbucks if you are coming into Hooley, as a lot of lorries drive through from the M23 as there is nowhere to turn around.
“We get all sorts of customers and some won’t want to come with an even busier road and I think it will be so dangerous and could become a real health and safety issue.”