Alton Towers must pay £100k in road improvements before building new ride
THEME park Alton Towers must shell out £100,000 on measures to ease traffic gridlock – before it can build its latest ride.
The payment is designed to compensate for the thousands of extra vehicles the new ride is expected to generate on the already traffic-choked country lanes.
It is predicted that traffic through the villages of Alton and Farley could increase by 150,000 vehicles a year – up to 5.5 per cent more at peak periods after the ride is unveiled.
Villagers have welcomed the imposition of the financial contribution on the theme park, which already has to pay £50,000 a year for road improvements.
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But residents say they would still prefer a relief road as a long-term solution.
It has not been revealed what the £100,000 will be spent on.
The new Nemesis Sub-Terra ride will be built on the site of the Black Hole, which was taken out of use in 2005. It is being described as a psychologically and physically thrilling experience which takes place in a 'dark, intense underground setting'.
It is predicted to increase traffic on average by 234 vehicles per day – with 57 more in the morning peak hour and 65 in the departure hour on the busiest days of the season.
Alton Towers owner, Merlin Entertainments, has said it cannot justify spending an estimated £30 million on a relief road which it claims is only needed about six weeks a year.
Alton Parish Council chairman Fred Eyre said: "We need something doing to alleviate the horrendous traffic problems in the village.
"We have been fobbed off for long enough and want plans in the pipeline. We are not trying to put Alton Towers down. We are just fight our corner."
Fellow parish councillor Tony Moult added: "You cannot alter the traffic flow through Alton and Farley, the roads are not suitable. A bypass is needed to resolve the problem."
Villager Judith Brown, who has lived on the High Street for 25 years, has attended many meetings to discuss traffic problems in the village.
She said: "Traffic has increased a lot. They are old roads, and there are more vehicles and bigger buses.
"The coaches are the biggest problem. They used to park at the theme park, but now they come back through the village after dropping their passengers off. I sometimes see the same coach go past my house four times a day."
A decision on the planning application will be made by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's planning committee on Thursday. Planners have recommended approval of the scheme on the condition that the £100,000 road improvements deal is in place.
The new ride is expected to increase attendance figures from 2.7 million in 2011 to 2.8 million in 2013. That compares with three million when the last new ride was launched in 2010. The theme park has also offered to spend £150,000 over three years on building restoration projects on the mansion ruins and Grade-I listed gardens.
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