THE Forest road network around the Welsh border near Chepstow will need major improvements if proposals for up to 800 homes at Beachley Barracks were ever to go-ahead.
The Ministry of Defence has said the barracks will close in 2027 and the land could be earmarked for housing in the Forest Council’s Local Plan, development blueprint which is currently out for consultation.
District councillor Nick Evans said the whole area would become “a car park” if there were not major improvements to local roads before homes were built at the barracks.
Cllr Evans (Con, Tidenham) told a recent meeting of the Forest Council: “There are considerable congestion problems in my ward.
“The potential building of 800 houses on Beachley Barracks without the necessary infrastructure being built in advance will turn my ward into a car park.”
Cllr Helen Molyneux (Ind, Tidenham) asked would be done about the traffic “that will of necessity be up and down one narrow road from the A48 to Beachley past two schools, a little row of shops and a long piece of open country?
“That is the only way in and out of Beachley.”
She was also sceptical about assurances from the Cabinet member responsible for planning policy, Cllr Chris McFarling (Green, St Briavels) that no decisions on sites for the Local Plan had been made.
Cllr Molyneux responded: “The residents of those places are pretty sure that is what is going to happen.”
The county councillor for the Beachley area also poured cold water on Cllr McFarling’s assurance that the infrastructure would be in place before houses were built.
Cllr Patrick Molyneux (Con, Sedbury) told Tidenham Parish Council: “We should be aware that Chris McFarling will have no influence whatsoever in terms of infrastructure or development going on there.
“They allocate the land through the Local Plan. What happens after that will be down to the planning process.
“They are going to plan to do lots of houses. We all need to be on the case that we campaign to ensure the infrastructure does go in to avoid the gridlock on the A48 but Chris McFarling is not necessarily the route.”
He said a new bridge over the River Wye and a by-pass would be “essential” if houses were built on the barracks.
A group of former Beachley apprentices have also put forward proposals which would maintain the century-old link between the area and the military.
The Beachley Old Boys’ Association – which runs a heritage centre at the barracks – has suggested a “mixed use” with facilities for community use and for the training and care of veterans.