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Air Balloon residents suffer new blow

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 05, 2013

controversy:   The Air Balloon roundabout, Birdlip

controversy: The Air Balloon roundabout, Birdlip

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HIGHWAYS Agency bosses have dealt another blow to three people's bid to start a new life.

Sharon and Gerald Hodges and their neighbour Myra Sefton are desperate to leave the cottages they live in next to the Air Balloon roundabout, near Cheltenham.

But they have now been told the agency will not buy the properties – as it does not need to use the land.

The residents have been trying for years to get the Highways Agency to compulsory purchase their homes to make way for improvements to the A417.

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But their requests have constantly been turned down in the past.

They had called for the agency to have a change of heart as it is considering introducing an experimental new traffic system by the roundabout.

They hoped agency bosses might scrap the scheme, thought to cost £100,000, and instead put the money towards compulsory purchasing the cottages ahead of a long-term revamp of the junction.

But an agency spokesman said: "We have no plans for compulsory purchase orders for the proposed experimental scheme to relieve traffic congestion on the A417 Air Balloon roundabout.

"We only have powers to issue CPOs where properties are situated on additional land required by new roads or improvements schemes."

Mrs Hodges said: "That doesn't surprise me at all but it does make me very cross.

"Because they know the pollution is very high, somebody should have stepped in a long time ago and sorted it out. Now I don't know where to turn."

She and her husband have lived in the cottage for nearly 27 years. They both have health problems and Mrs Hodges said her doctor suspected her asthma might have been caused by traffic pollution.

She hopes to undergo hospital tests soon to examine the matter further and added: "If I do find out it's connected, I'm going to kick up a right stink."

Myra Sefton, who has lived in her cottage for 23 years, said: "I don't know what we can do. They keep putting obstacles in the way and it's been going on for years. I've always said I'll go out in a box and I think that will be the case."

The 70-year-old widow said she felt compulsory purchasing the cottages would cost the agency about £500,000.

"We're not asking mega-bucks. That's nothing to them," she said.

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  • Michael_AH  |  January 18 2013, 8:38PM

    the Highways Agency HAS to make improvements at the Air Balloon roundabout to improve the air qulity for the local residents. The local residents ARE the inhabitants of these cottages. If the Highways Agency bought the cottages, they could choose not to let them. If there then weren't local residents living right on the roundabout, would the air quality improvements be needed? Or am I thinking outside the box that the Highways Agency can't?

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  • Barney0123  |  January 08 2013, 12:15PM

    Did these people have their 'Eyes CLOSED Hearing Aids Switched OFF' when they bought these properties? This road and round about have ALWAYS been there. Yes albeit, it may have got busier, but, it's a MAIN ROAD and discussions on it's lay out have been going on since the 1970's. 40 odd years ago, surely they had surveys done and more to the point DID THEY EVEN BOTHER TO READ THE SUVEYOURS REPORT?????? I was brought up in Brockworth, so I know what I am talking about. I bet they're gonna claim next that they don't know about the discussions on Nettleton Bottom!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • safeandnice  |  January 08 2013, 11:53AM

    As said before the road here should be the Gloucester Oxford Road. The mistake was swinging the Cirencester Gloucester link road acros here in the 90s. If theres to be a link from the A417 at Nettleton roundabout to the M5 at Bentham, this isn't the place for it

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  • cheltenham20  |  January 07 2013, 9:08AM

    People in the property's, the answer is for you to rent your property's out, then with the money that you get from renting, you can then rent a property that will suit your circumstances.. People may not buy, but a tenancy arrangement may be the ideal way out... Now stop griping....

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  • Walker100  |  January 07 2013, 8:34AM

    To be fair the road improvements in the 1990s were done after they purchased the properties so traffic has no doubt increased considerably. However, the improvements were known about so they either carried on with the purchase knowing about the blight or their conveyancer didn't do a very good job.

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  • tishwash  |  January 05 2013, 3:45PM

    "doctor suspected her asthma might have been caused by traffic pollution." ....... Yeah good luck proving that one, what about young children who have asthma..... They've said they don't need the land for the trial so shut up already about it, let the trial proceed or not proceed, if they decide they need the land as the trial fails and they have to re-do the junction then they will buy the land, christ!

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  • taylke  |  January 05 2013, 11:37AM

    These properties have always been at the side of a major route and that was the case when the current occupants purchased them. It would seem they either didn't care at the time, and possibly purchased for prices lower than similar properties in more desirable areas, or they took a chance even then on making a swift buck from a CPO and have come unstuck.

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  • Matt1006  |  January 05 2013, 11:22AM

    Walker100 - good point. Given their less-than-desirable location, and the well-documented unacceptable levels of pollution, I suspect their true value is somewhat lower than the £500k Mrs. Sefton thinks a CPO would cost. "That's nothing to them", she is quoted as saying, so how does she arrive at half a million quid (not "mega-bucks", according to her) for properties worth probably nothing like that much on the open market? The owners are in a bad situation. Can't sell, and the HA aren't interested. Maybe the owners should therefore talk to the local authority about being re-housed if they can prove that they are suffering health issues due to the pollution, or as a last resort talk to their insurers. Otherwise they're stuck with their properties, and have to either stick it out or lock the door and walk away. Arguably they won't be losing any money, as their properties are effectively worthless anyway.

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  • Walker100  |  January 05 2013, 10:56AM

    Actually CPOs pay out "market value"......I'd be very interested to see what Estate Agents believe the market value of these properties to be.

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