Pt 2 Transport matters
Widening Cock Lane
We have always accepted that Cock Lane would need to be widened for the short northern stretch down to the new Ashwells entrance. We understand from the applicants that widening along the whole length of the Ashwells site has been included in this application because of BCC’s insistence on the eventual further widening and the connection to the Spine Rd. We do not see that there is any basis for agreeing, at this point in time, to any further widening of Cock Lane beyond the new Ashwells junction.
Transport Impact Assessment (TIA)
At a meeting with Penelope Tollitt and David Anderson on 7 Nov 2017, Penelope Tollitt agreed with our assertion that the decision to further widen Cock Lane and join it to the Spine Road must be contingent upon Traffic Impact Assessments for both the Ashwells and Gomm Valley developments. She agreed that, while only the Ashwells Planning Application was available, it was not appropriate to do any further widening. Christine Urry’s letter to Penelope Tollitt of 20 Sep 17 (penultimate para.) says much the same thing – that the TIAs are needed to demonstrate the impact on the local highway network in terms of capacity and safety.
We further note that there is already significant evidence in the Ashwells Planning Application’s TIA that supports our case for no further widening of Cock Lane and for no connection to the Spine Road. The TIA provides data that undermines the case being made by BCC and shows that it is unnecessary.
1) For Safety Reasons:
BCC have stated that Cock Lane needs to be widened for reasons of highway safety (Para 3 of Christine Urry’s letter to Penelope Tollitt of 20 S5-year, but this TIA examines the 5-year history of reported accidents in Cock Lane and states the following in section 3.7.8 :
Given the fairly minimal number of incidents, the low severity and absence of recurring trends it is reasonable to conclude that there is not a significant highway safety problem within the vicinity of the site.
It should also be noted that none of the 5 incidents recorded over the past five years occurred within the narrow section of Cock Lane.
This TIA supports our contention that Cock Lane is a natural traffic calming route that is inherently safe.
2) Traffic Volumes:
The TIA (Section 7.2.3) puts the increased traffic volumes resulting from the proposed development into perspective
Based on the results of the above exercise, the proposals can be expected to result in the following vehicle trips, 60 (two-way) trips during the AM peak hour, and 64 (two-way) trips during the PM peak hour. It is considered that the anticipated increase in vehicular traffic will not result in a material impact on the local highway network.
Furthermore, Appendix E of the same report forecasts that out of the 60 trips only 26 will be through the single lane section that BCC wants to widen. However, it may be even less since this forecast is based on a Wycombe-wide travel to work survey. Perhaps of more relevance, is evidence from the existing Ashwells site where only 12% of the AM peak traffic goes through that part of Cock Lane, so the volume from the new development could be more like 7 vehicles/hour (12% of 60, 2 way basis).
This TIA also supports (Sections 7.2.3 and 8.3.4) our view that there is no planning need for the Spine Road connection and widening of Cock Lane beyond the new Ashwells junction. The figures presented support our consistently stated view based on Jacobs reports, commissioned by BCC and WDC, that the traffic movements from the developments themselves do not justify this since the TIA figures are even lower (at 26 vehicles/hour max, quite probably just 7 vehs./hr.) than expected.
Traffic calming in Cock Lane
Christine Urry’s letter to Penelope Tollitt of 20 Sep 17 (Pg. 2, para 3) reveals a doubling of AM peak hour traffic along Cock Lane by 2026, from 647 to 1,317 vehs/hr, as a result of connecting a widened Cock Lane to a new Spine Road. She also repeats the wording of WDC’s Development Brief in saying
It is however important that this highway improvement does not lead to a significant increase in traffic using Cock Lane and the new Spine Road, because of the detrimental impact that would have on the village of Tylers Green. The widened section of Cock Lane will therefore be fitted with traffic calming to keep traffic speeds low and limit the attractiveness of the Spine Road to new traffic from further afield whilst achieving a safer road with appropriate onward visibility.
No details of traffic calming in Cock lane have been proposed, but since both authorities appear to agree that traffic calming would achieve the aim of the Development Brief, we have to ask whether it is possible to produce convincing evidence that it would be effective. We have retained the services of an experienced Traffic Consultant who confirms that there is scant evidence that traffic calming reduces the volume of traffic. It merely slows it down and makes a contribution to road safety.
To quote our consultant: ‘Traffic calming should always show a positive benefit in terms of safety and that is the usual target for a TC scheme. I think there was some evidence in the 90’s re reduced flows but generally highway authorities are less worried about traffic flows now so TC schemes are geared to reducing speeds.’ (Dermot McCaffery is a Member of the Institute of Highway Engineers and a Member of the Institute of Road Safety Officers. He has over 29 years’ experience in highway and transportation development control).
Traffic calming in New Road
Many, though not all Forum members, had significant concerns over the proposed traffic calming measures in New Road by the use of chicanes. They can and will be circumvented by traffic taking slightly different routes (either carry on along B494 then turn back past the pond and the First School to reach Cock Lane, or simply cut through the housing estates north of New Road, along Rose Ave, Ashley Drive, Kings Ride and St John’s Rd). In both case this will create greater dangerous additional flows past and through sensitive areas used by young children going to school.
In addition they will create noise and air pollution by making vehicles stop and start /accelerate. This is in contravention of Policy T13, referred to in section 2.2.1 of the TIA which says that traffic calming should enhance the environmental quality of the area. Moreover, they will be extremely dangerous road obstacles on an unlit road, and BCC have a policy that specifically forbids any speed bumps or other obstructions without street lighting. Residents have consistently voted against street lighting in the village and will have to be consulted again, both on chicanes and lighting, if traffic calming is intended,
In summary, BCC and WDC have not demonstrated that they have a viable method of reducing the doubling of traffic volume that their Cock Lane widening linked to a Spine Road scheme is forecast to attract past the Middle School, and so cannot achieve the aim of the Development Brief which is that there should be no significant increase in traffic using Cock Lane. This Ashwells application does in fact weaken their case which is based on three assertions that are not supported by factual data, namely:
a) that Cock Lane needs to be widened for reasons of Highway safety
b) that increased traffic from the developments provides the justification
c) that traffic calming measures can prevent a significant increase in traffic
In the light of this evidence, we urge WDC to ask BCC either to withdraw their insistence on the need for widening Cock Lane and connecting it to the Spine Road, or to provide evidence-based justification for it. We are ready to provide any detail required to justify our arguments about traffic flow.
This paper reports the meeting with Wycombe District Council held recently, with representatives from the Residents Society and Ashwells Forum. The discussion was based on the detailed planning application and the concerns raised by these Groups. (please note this is a long document!!)
1.Why does application show Bucks County Highways as the owner? Is it legally valid? CB said there was no problem because application involves infrastructure work and Cock Lane widening so BCC is one of the owners.
2. Assurance sought that Cock Lane will not be widened south of the new lower access until after the Transport Impact Assessment for the main Gomm Valley development has been assessed. Widening is not their choice, but it is a Highways Authority requirement so they themselves can’t give any assurance. Their Highways contacts are via Christine Urry and Mark Shaw. They would not do further widening below the new access if they don’t have to since it would both save them money and avoid Cock Lane being closed for 3 months, but Planners may not want to lose the opportunity to get them to pay for widening alongside all their land. On this basis, CB said that the inclusion of Cock Lane widening was simply what they thought they needed to do to obtain planning permission. We pointed out that the Ashwells TIA was clear that there would be no problem from Ashwells for traffic volume or safety. We had been assured by Penelope Tollitt that no decision on widening would take place until the Gomm Valley TIA had been considered and then only if WDC’s aim that there should be no significant increase in traffic through the village was achievable with traffic calming CB said Chinese walls had not permitted any special briefing from the Planners. He is happy to report the apparent conflict in intention between Planners and Highways, and if this could not be resolved at this time, it might be possible to create a reserve strip of the Ashwells land for use when and if the decision is taken to widen the lane.
3. Similarly for any traffic calming measures further up Cock Lane and in New Road. Chicanes were their response to public feedback at the exhibitions, not a requirement from Highways. They were unaware of BCC regulations requiring street lights for chicanes, build-outs etc. We said no need for these measures if Cock Lane is not widened. Chicanes could encourage traffic to divert through other areas of the village. Agreed public consultation required. High speeds down New Road. Flashing speed warning signs could be useful. f
4. Why has the new lower access moved 50m further south, thus requiring widening of a longer stretch of Cock Lane? It was not done to fit in a seventh self-build house, but to achieve vision splay to the north as well as to reduce the gradient at the start of the new access route. The infiltration pond fits in there and is necessary to catch run-off from the site. Savills will provide the Highway engineering drawing of that area.
5. Initial construction phase – entry should be via new lower access not through existing Ashwells They intend to use existing Ashwells entry as little as possible, only for initial construction traffic, plant, equipment, portacabins, which are required on site to construct the start of the new access. As soon as possible they will use the lower access. Cut and fill will be kept to a minimum although some needed to level the playing area. They will produce a critical path timing.
6. How can later exit-only via existing Ashwells be enforced? No easy answer. BCC require unimpeded access for emergency vehicles to the site. GK suggested traffic flow the other way around would work better. 7. Phase development – How to coordinate 5 (?) different builders. They are confident that this will be achieved.
8. House sizes too small for future changes in living patterns. This is up to the developers. Could be in the Design Code.
9. Design Code must be approved before any detailed applications Yes, it will be.
10. Construction parking – concerns about effect on local roads and green spaces before parking on site is organised No need for any parking on local roads, eg. Carter Walk etc. We will have the phone no. of the Site Manager who should be contacted if any contractors start parking in local roads.
11 No pumped sewage route (and its 6m wide easement) on the application Agree it is an omission. A revised plan will be issued. Will probably follow the route suggested by GK [run round top of build site on the field side of Copse] – just need to be aware of tree root preservation needs. [Aerial view shows tree trunks generally 3m to 4m from line of fence.] Noted the alternative straight line but longer route suggested by Bill Sadler. CB was worried about capacity of pipe to meet needs.
12. Measures to prevent self-build house from over-looking existing Ashwells houses. Split-level contemporary houses built into the hill, oriented to face downhill (south) with no windows towards existing houses. We asked for cross-section plans. They may be custom-built rather than self-built. i.e several owners using the same builder.
13. Parking standards – we prefer Wiltshire County Council’s higher figure. Parking is needed not just for visitors to new houses, but also walkers/cyclists on the new FPs and green space down to the railway line. CB noted our concern that the 0.2 visitor space allocation would not meet the need.
14. Management of the green space on site They have not got that far, but the Ashwells green space would probably be managed separately from the main Gomm valley. A management company financed by new residents was possible or responsibility assumed by CWPC. Surrounding residents would like to see the involvement of CWPC in some capacity.
15. Why put the electricity sub-station at the NE corner of the site, rather than near the site entrance? Technical advice from SSE, but may be wrong. They will investigate. GK will also contact SSE.
16. The oak trees at the ends of the Sandpits gardens belong to the private owners and are not on the Ashwells land as shown on various plans. Agree plans are wrong and will be amended.
17. Parcel 9? No word from Aviva. Ransom strip so can impose some standards. Bridging the gas main may be a problem.
18. Policy for achieving long-term lower cost homes/shared equity housing specifically for locals. There is currently a big debate over the viability of shared ownership schemes. Social rented houses will be off-site but CB would like to provide some more affordable starter homes for younger people with local connections and will push for WDC to forego some profit to allow an appropriate scheme on some of the 20x 2-bed houses. The inclusion of some ‘rural exception’ affordable homes need not be ruled out. To achieve off-site provision, CB aimed to run parallel planning consents for the Bellfield Road and Desborough road schemes. We need to alert Katrina Wood and David Shakespeare. It was agreed that with prices likely to be very high on the site (CB will provide a copy of the model figures for house values), we need a scheme that lasts in perpetuity, not just the initial purchase. CB would welcome precedents. KC, GK, and KB undertook to research.
19. Footpath work needed at Carter Walk end and at Horse & Jockey end.
They will improve these FPs and may work with CWPC to get some fences put back/ intruding trees cut back. We also need barriers that will allow access for pushchairs but not motorcycles.
20. FP through copse or to one side? There were varying views about whether the path should run through the centre of the copse or between the fences of the new houses and the copse. The matter may well be decided by following the route of the main sewer which requires a 6 m wide open space above it. An assurance was sought that no trees would be removed, but would be reduced in height, and an evergreen hedge planted on the northern edge of the copse.
21. There is a no street lighting policy on site and for any traffic calming, but is a BCC requirement for any traffic calming. (BCC Traffic Calming Portfolio 2007, p.5). No lighting is proposed for the new estate.
22. Car parking for Middle School. The School would like to have both the drop-off and car park schemes, but they are not compatible since the design has exits opposite each other. The drop-off scheme requires significant engineering and removal of trees and would not work as a pick-up point. CB is visiting the school again soon. CWPC owns the car park and has identified several changes needed.
23. Legal settlement of the existing boundaries of the Carter Walk/Wheeler Ave houses backing on to the site. This is for prescriptive rights for Carter Walk houses who incorporated a strip of land over 30 years ago. It will be done in due course.
24. Will the Noise-Sensitive Receptors R2 & R3 actually be located in the gardens / on the houses in Wheeler Ave and Sandpits Lane, and R4 on top of the Middle School, as depicted in Figure 10.1 [page 228] of the Environmental Statement (the Main Statement)? Do we/they have any choice in this? These are notional depictions of points from which to assess noise levels on site.
25. Section 7.6 of the Environment Statement states that a “capture, rescue and translocation exercise will be required” to move snakes, toads, lizards, etc. from the construction area to the surrounding habitat [which would include the Copse as the largest such adjacent area], followed by the installation of reptile proof fencing to prevent such creatures from returning to the construction site. This would imply that the Copse should be fenced off in order to meet site ecological needs. Does WDC intend to carry out this obligation? Agreed that the copse was the best place for this temporary fenced refuge during the infrastructure phase.
26. Traffic problems at the end of Kingswood Avenue from cars parking on the bend outside Pightle Cottage between Barnes Corner crossroads and the Middle School. CB said that if there was a strong demand via the public consultation for yellow lines, they will add them.
Timings At least a year until building starts; 9 months for infrastructure; House building 2/3 years.
The outline planning application for the Ashwells development, has now been submitted to Wycombe District Council. The application (Ref. 18/05002/R9OUT) can be viewed by going to www.wycombe.gov.uk and clicking on ‘Find a planning application’. The Site Notice confirms the deadline for submitting comments is 26 Feb 2018.
The Residents Society has prepared an overview, a detailed map of the proposed plan and a comprehensive list of all the documents that are available on the WDC website.
The following article is to be published in the next edition of Village Voice. Please keep returning to this page as we will add more information as it becomes available.
The application for Ashwells has been prepared and submitted by Savills on behalf of WDC, who own the land, for the erection of up to 102 dwellings (fewer than the 120 proposed in the Local Plan) and the Masterplan shows the proposed access roads, housing layout and public open space and landscaping. The former chalk pit will also be retained and landscaped to add to the public open space. Existing footpath access through the site will be retained or realigned. The plan allows for the extension of the new road through the site to the south to connect with the adjoining development area of 6 houses (Parcel 9) of the Gomm Valley development.
The 102 houses will be made up of 16 x 4-bed, 59 x 3-bed, 20 x 2-bed and 7 self-build houses, in a combination of detached houses, semi-detached houses, and terraces, with a density on 4ha (10 acres) of 25.5 dwellings per hectare. Parking standards will be 2 spaces per 2/3 bed dwelling, and 2.5 per 4-bed dwelling. The visualisations show mostly traditional-looking 2-storey houses with a few of 2 1/2 stories. The 7 self-build houses will be encouraged to adopt more contemporary designs. The council is looking at ways to include some starter homes/shared equity houses for first-time buyers with local connections. It is an Outline application so no detail design is shown for the dwellings, but it is the Council’s stated aim to achieve good quality design and materials.
The first thing completed will be the widening of Cock Lane between the pumping station/cemetery entrance and the phone mast, from approx. 3.7 m to 6.0 m. A new access road connects into the development at the mid-point, about 50 metres further down Cock Lane than previously illustrated. A pedestrian crossing doubles as the only proposal for traffic calming on this section. Once the development is completed the existing Ashwells exit will only be used for vehicles leaving the site. All ingoing traffic will be via the new access road.
Widening of Cock Lane south of the Ashwells site is not included in this application. Further details of any connection of Cock Lane to the proposed new spine road through to Gomm Road will be included in the Gomm Valley development application. Documents in this application make it clear that there is no current safety issue with Cock Lane with only 5 slight injuries over 5 years, and none in the section we wish to retain as a single track.We are strongly opposing any such through-road connection or widening of Cock Lane south of the new access road.
The enabling works, building the new access road and putting in groundworks and infrastructure, will all be carried out as Phase 1 of the development. The Council’s aim is to complete the infrastructure then dispose of serviced sites to housebuilders, with 7 serviced plots to self-builders. Construction traffic for the Phase 1 infrastructure works will use the existing Ashwells cul-de-sac access. Construction traffic for subsequent phases will use only new access road.
Middle School & New Road
Sensible proposals have been included for improvements to the pick-up and drop-off arrangements for Middle School. using the existing car park, with a central island to cross the lane to an improved footpath through the trees. Another central island is proposed for Barnes Corner where the children cross, with two chicanes to slow traffic further down New Road each with illuminated bollards and signage.
Documents & Comment
There is a mass of 63 documents including a transport assessment and construction management. A useful list describing the content of all the 63 documents has been drawn up by Gerry King and can be found below. Our initial impression is that the plans for the site itself are acceptable although we will have criticisms to make, and will vehemently oppose any suggestion of a widened through-route to the London Road.
“The petition ‘Keep Cock Lane Single’ was closed on 20th November with 539 signatures. Whilst many had anticipated that this would be treated as a single-ward issue, causing a debate of the whole Council, WDC has decided it is a multi-ward issue that requires 8,000 signatures for a debate. We are in discussion with them about this decision.”
please click on the link below to open the document.
Gomm Valley & Ashwells Development Brief, meeting with Wycombe District Council 20th June 2017
The full Report of the meeting and follow up with Penelope Tollitt, Head of Planning & Sustainability, is available. The final document will be presented to WDC Cabinet on 10th July and then to the Planning Inspector later in the year.