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My house is cracking because of juddering from heavy lorries
Published 11/02/13

A HENLEY woman is calling for action amid claims that HGVs have split her house in two.

Judy Dinsdale, of Northfield End, says that the road outside her house is substandard and is being used increasingly by large lorries as a rat-run.

She has been quoted 2,000 for repairs to her second floor wall, after two large cracks appeared.

Ms Dinsdale, who is retired, said: “I can see from my bathroom window this huge pothole that the lorries go bumping down then bumping back up.

“The crack has been getting wider for a few months, but it is now more serious so I had it looked at.

“These houses are Tudor- they were never built to withstand heavy goods vehicles juddering through.”

“We have all noticed that it has been a problem recently, it is commented on by all the neighbours.

“I understand vehicles using the road for access such as deliveries for Waitrose but where are all the others coming from and going to?”

Ms Dinsdale said that the problem was worse at night and early in the morning, adding: “Lorries can go faster then because there are no cars.

“They really pick up speed and crash into the pothole.

“Mornings are probably the worst because it is very busy with everyone loading up and coming through, then it is quieter until it picks up again from 4-6pm.

“Those that come through after that, as it gets later, are really motoring.

“They would have the right of way at the roundabout so they do not have to stop, they can just push on.

“We do not hear the cars- that has never been a problem.

“It is the volume of big and heavy vehicles at night time and the juddering that wakes you up.”

Ms Dinsdale has lived in the grade two listed, three storey building for 35 years, but said that things had changed recently.

“I am pretty fed up of it now,” she said.

“I have always said that it is not noisy living here as we do not get much of anything else except cars but we do seem to now.

“Cars do not matter here but the bigger vehicles really make a difference, it makes a real thud and really shakes the whole house.

“Suddenly it seems to be a rat run for HGVs. It is a hopeless situation.

“Why are they now coming here all of a sudden? It is strange because we have not notices this quantity before, it has built up in the last few months.”

Ms Dinsdale added: “I would most like the road to be resurfaced properly, not just little parts that keep going again and having to be redone.

“Or could we have a 20mph limit like Sonning, or at least enforce the 30pmh?”

Next-door neighbour Brian MacShane said: “The road is in an appalling state.

“From about 3am I start to hear large trucks hit the indent on the road and my house physically shakes - not just a little but I can feel it shudder throughout the house.

“It almost sounds/feels like the road is hollow underneath and connected directly to our houses.

“I have seen the damage caused to my neighbour Judy’s house and am concerned that as our houses are connected, this could have a knock on effect to our house.

“Generally the bigger issue of large trucks using Henley as a shortcut needs to be addressed as well as the appalling state of the roads that are directly added to by this heavy traffic.

“Marlow had the right idea when they restricted traffic across their bridge. Perhaps we can deter this traffic by deterring large truck traffic and forcing them to use the 404 rather than shortcut through the historic town centre.

“I’m not sure how much longer my 250-year-old house will be able to take this constant violent shaking.”

Joyce Hogge, of Bell Street, said: “Over the last few years the amount of lorries has increased considerably.

“They seem to be bigger and I cannot understand how and why some are coming through here carrying agricultural machinery.

“Henley is a very good rat run and saves time for people going to Maidenhead or Reading.

“You get HGVs coming through at night and sometimes you get them rumbling until it seems almost like an earthquake and the house vibrates.

“It wakes me up at around dawn although once I was woken up at about 3am by several lorries.”

Like Ms Dinsdale, who needs timber installed in the roof space to prevent further lateral spread, Mrs Hogge has also experienced structural problems.

She said: “I have got cracks that have been repaired and have certainly come back within the last two years.

“It is not very nice and one worries about the houses because there are no foundations on these houses.”

Councillor Laila Meachin, chairwoman of the town council’s Traffic Advisory Committee, said: “HGVs pose a very real long standing problem in Henley - they damage the town and its residents in many ways.

“Most people would like to see something done about HGVs that use Henley as a through route.

“Henley was detrunked in the early Nineties and no HGV needs to use Henley in this way.

“Oxfordshire County Council is responsible for highways and South Oxfordshire District Council for air quality. Neither seem to be able to do anything to alleviate the problem - all Henley Town Council can do is to lobby these organisations.”

Cllr Meachin said that calls to restrict HGV use on certain roads had been unsuccessful.

She added: “HGVs account for three per cent total traffic flow but a massive 20 per cent of total emissions. It is obvious that even a small change in HGV usage would impact positively on Henley.

“The Traffic Advisory Committee and other organisations such as Henley in Transition are actively pursuing ways of addressing the problem.

“Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy solution. However, the more local support we can gain through petitions and evidence of problems, the better position we’ll be in to argue our case.”

Town and county Councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “When I see a pothole in Henley, or one is reported to me, I report it to the county council.

“However, no pothole repairs have been able to be carried out recently because all the gangs have been working across the county gritting the main road network and it has been too cold for proper repairs to be carried out to the potholes.

“I am aware that a number of potholes have appeared recently. Some are new. But what concerns me greatly is that some are where previous repairs have failed - which shows that money is being wasted.

“This is something which I regularly quiz the officers and cabinet about. We pay our taxes, and expect long term results - not a short term fix which fails.

“Increasing HGVs coming through Henley has been an issue for some time. The Bridge is robust and does not need a weight restriction.

“HGVs service local businesses but long distance HGVs should not be coming through Henley, even if their sat navs direct them this way - they should be using the A34, M4, M40 and A404.

“However, they pay their road tax, and are legally allowed to travel on public roads.

“I am aware that vehicles going through potholes - and sometimes even just driving past - can cause vibration.”

An assessment of Sonning Bridge carried out by Wokingham Borough Council in July found that the condition of the 230-year-old bridge meant that it could no longer support vehicles over 7.5 tonnes.

Lafarge Aggregates lorries travelling to and from Sonning Eye, where gravel extraction is being carried out, are also thought to increase the HGV total.

A planning application submitted b the company in January last year proposed new access from the A4155 Henley Road so HGVs travelling to and from the site would use Henley and Caversham Bridges.

Councillor Dieter Hinke, chairman of Henley Town Council’s planning committee, estimated the proposal would result in 28 additional vehicle movements through Henley every day.

Published 11/02/13

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