RESIDENTS have been urged to voice their concerns about new plans to transform Chelmsford in a bid to boost walking and cycling.

"Liveable neighbourhoods" preventing cars using routes as shortcuts are at the centre of Essex County Council’s plans to get Chelmsford moving towards sustainable travel.

Essex County Council (ECC) also wants to set up “school streets” which encourage children to walk and cycle to school.

The proposals for Chelmsford will see the improvement of three routes – enabling residents to walk and cycle safely between key points in the city, while also creating better connections to the existing cycle network.

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But some of the plans have not been welcomed by large parts of Moulsham, which ECC plans to quarter, preventing traffic moving directly between each area.

Seena Shah, a Conservative party member who fought for the Chelmsford central ward in the last ECC election, said many people will be disproportionately affected by the plans.

She said: “What is good about the consultation is it acknowledges we need to find better ways to make our roads safer and to get more people walking and cycling.

"I just think it needs to be a solution that works for everyone and still provides the choices that everyone needs to be able to live their life.

“Of course we all want to get on our bikes and walk everywhere. But sometimes we just don’t have the time to do that.”

Ms Shah said people living outside the blue zone could have difficulty carrying out the school run.

Ms Shah added: “You have a number of people in the area who are elderly and it is not always an option for them to walk or cycle.

"Whatever the solution it has to be something that incorporates and considers everyone, not just those who are actively fit.

“On the whole it is not going to impact me day-to-day but what I do see is that there are a number of people – and the school run does disproportionately affect women – who are really worried about this.

“It hasn’t happened – it is a proposition and if people voice their concerns that is how you stop it.

“Put your submission and tell your side of the argument and I really do think that if enough people do that – it is enough to stop this.”

Councillor Lee Scott, cabinet member for highways maintenance and sustainable transport at ECC, said: “We want Essex to be the walking and cycling county – a safer, greener, healthier place where we don’t automatically jump in the car, especially for shorter journeys.

“With over 90 per cent of Essex residents recently telling us that they were concerned about traffic congestion, air pollution and road safety, our ambitious aim is to make the transport network safer, greener and healthier, specifically designed for people who cycle and walk.

“With input from Essex residents, we can help transform the town centres and surrounding neighbourhoods into thriving and healthier areas with fewer cars but more people cycling and walking, allowing us all to breathe cleaner air and enjoy a better way of life.”