The Committee is asked to consider the representations made
during the Traffic Regulation Consultation process regarding the proposal to vary the Gloucestershire County Council on street parking order 2017 (Various Roads in the Parish of Charlton Kings) (Cheltenham Borough) (Variation) Order 2018 and Gloucestershire County Council, Cirencester Road, Parish of Charlton Kings, Cheltenham Borough (Notice of proposed new zebra crossing) 2018.
To make recommendations to the Lead Commissioner: Highway Authority on the way forward.
10.1 Alexis Newport, Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) Manager, gave a presentation to the Committee, aided by a power-point presentation which included site photographs of Cirencester Road, Newcourt Road, Bafford Lane and Charlton Close, in Charlton Kings, Cheltenham. (For Information: A copy of the presentation has been uploaded to the Council’s website and is included in the signed minute book).
10.2 The TRO Manager informed the Committee that the scheme proposal was for a zebra crossing on Cirencester Road, Charlton Kings, and additional no waiting at any time restrictions (double yellow lines) in the vicinity of a new convenience store development. She explained that the proposed scheme had been designed based on a condition stipulated in the unilateral undertaking as part of the development of the new convenience store, and through extensive consultation with local residents and stakeholders. The Committee noted that a pedestrian crossing point had been a material consideration in the determination of the planning application and considered necessary to make the development acceptable.
10.3 The TRO Manager explained that the road was not of the required width or environment for a physical feature such as a pedestrian refuge island, and therefore the original scheme had been rejected following safety concerns raised by the Police. A zebra crossing scheme had then been subsequently agreed and designed, and no further concerns regarding safety of the crossing had been raised from statutory bodies or stakeholders. She emphasised to members that the main aim of the scheme was to help improve accessibility to local facilities and amenities, whilst improving safety for all road users including pedestrians, and maintaining traffic flow for all vehicles.
10.4 The Committee was informed of the outcomes from the statutory, informal and formal consultation periods, and the resulting decisions. The TRO Manager explained that the formal consultation on the proposed scheme took place between 9 August 2018 and 3 September 2018, and this had generated 19 responses. The correspondence was predominately from local residents and their visitors, the majority of which had objected to the scheme. The main concerns raised related to loss of on-street parking, and that the location of the crossing was proposed in an unsafe location due to its close proximity to junctions and a bend in the road. The Committee noted that the local County Councillor for Charlton Park and College had objected to the scheme.
10.5 Some members expressed concern about the adverse impact the proposed scheme would have on the directly affected residents and their visitors, due the loss of their on-street parking. Members were particularly concerned about the impact on any elderly and disabled residents. Members were also worried that the proposed crossing would impact negatively on the wider area too, due to the resulting parking displacement.
10.6 In response to a question, the TRO Manager clarified that approximately 6 residents would lose their on-street parking as a result of the zebra crossing and double yellow lines. She stressed that the majority of residents had off-road parking, and the highway authority was not obligated to provide residents with on-street parking provision. Officers emphasised that there was a need for a pedestrian crossing facility, based on the number of pedestrians crossing the road, as determined by the pedestrian survey results; significant weight should be given to that factor, when balanced against the impact on directly affected residents regarding the loss of their on-street parking.
10.7 Members questioned whether the double yellow lines could be reduced in length, to minimise the loss of on-street parking, for directly affected residents. In response, the TRO Manager explained that the double yellow lines would ensure visibility and were therefore needed for safety reasons. If the yellow lines were reduced in length, then the white zig zag lines of the zebra crossing would need to be expanded, thus further increasing the parking restrictions on the road. It was also not possible to relocate the crossing on a different section of the road, due to an existing pedestrian crossing located on the road to the south, and there being no suitable location, to the north, due to dropped kerbs.
10.8 The TRO Manager referred to the results of the pedestrian survey, which she explained had determined that the proposed crossing was located at the desired line for pedestrian access. She explained that a relocation of the zebra crossing would mean that it would not be fit for purpose within the confines of the condition stipulated in the unilateral undertaking, which was for a pedestrian crossing to encourage and assist pedestrians to access the convenience store. The TRO Manager emphasised the point that due to the nature of the scheme design, it would be difficult to modify any of the plans, and still result in a scheme that was both safe and fit for purpose
10.9 A member expressed strong concerns over the level of objections received from residents at the formal consultation stage, and he questioned the value of undertaking the consultation when it had not been possible to accommodate any of their requests for modifications. In response, the TRO Manager emphasised that the feedback received at each consultation stage had been considered, and the proposed scheme had been designed to aim for a positive balance between ensuring the safety of pedestrians accessing the convenience store, and minimising the loss of on-street parking for directly affected residents.
10.10 In response to question from a member, the Committee was informed that as part of the Section 106 Agreement (developer contributions), the developer had paid a contribution of £29,252.53, towards the cost of the scheme. It was explained that this contribution had already been used to fund the undertaking of the extensive consultation; consequently, if the proposed scheme was approved, installation of the zebra crossing and the associated works would now be funded through the Council’s capital programme. Some members expressed disappointment that if the decision was made to go ahead with the scheme, then the funds secured from the developer would not cover the full cost of implementation. It was suggested that for future schemes, further consideration should be given to ensuring that sufficient funds were secured as part of the Section 106 agreement.
10.11 Members questioned officers about the consequences of the Committee making a recommendation to abandon the scheme, when the authority was obligated to provide a crossing as set out in the unilateral undertaking. In response, members were informed that the Committee could make this recommendation to the Lead Commissioner: Highway Authority, and if his resulting final decision was to abandon and therefore not implement the scheme, then the scheme would be considered to have failed at the legal test.
10.12 Cllr Klara Sudbury, County Councillor for Charlton Park and College, addressed the Committee.
10.12.1 Cllr Sudbury thanked officers for their work on developing the scheme proposal. She explained that she had concerns about the planning application process, and the resulting unilateral undertaking which included the obligation for the pedestrian crossing facility as part of the development of the convenience store. She felt that the consequential impact of the proposed scheme on residents, regarding their loss of on-street parking, had not been addressed. She referred to the original proposal for a build out facility which she felt would have been suitable and in the right location, but she acknowledged that the road was not of the required width or environment for this facility. She commented that a build out facility would have meant that pedestrians would have less of the road to cross, but it would not have addressed the fast flow of traffic. Cllr Sudbury commented that most visitors to the store travelled by car and the car park was very busy. She was of the view that the store was creating a negative impact on the local area, particularly due to late opening times.
10.12.2 Cllr Sudbury concluded her presentation by explaining that she had mixed views on the proposed scheme; whilst she had formally objected to the scheme, she was of the view that something was needed to address pedestrian safety. She was concerned that whilst the proposed scheme would benefit the wider community, this would be at the expense of the local residents who would lose their on-street parking.
10.13 A member made reference to there being no record of any safety issues involving pedestrians and traffic, since the opening of the convenience store (approximately 18 months ago). Some members expressed the view that the pedestrian crossing had been proposed to compliment the convenience store development, rather than to address any pedestrian safety issues.
10.14 Some members of the Committee were of the view that a fundamental error had occurred at the planning application stage, of the new convenience store, as the impact of a pedestrian crossing facility on the directly affected residents, had not been fully assessed. Consequently, those members felt that the installation of a pedestrian crossing facility being included in the unilateral undertaking was inappropriate.
10.15 Some members expressed the view that as the authority was obligated, as outlined in the unilateral undertaking, to provide a pedestrian crossing facility, the scheme should now be implemented, and that the scheme would facilitate a safe crossing point for pedestrians. In contrast, a majority of members were of the view that that the scheme should be abandoned and not implemented, due to the adverse impact on directly affected residents and their visitors regarding their loss of on-street parking; the resulting parking displacement; and the fact that there had been no record of any safety issues between pedestrians and traffic since the convenience store opened (approximately 18 months ago).
10.16 Following consideration of the information before the Committee, it was proposed, seconded and the Committee
RESOLVED TO RECOMMEND
That the Lead Commissioner: Highway Authority should abandon the scheme and therefore not implement the scheme.
In reaching this decision members took into account:
Ø The loss of on-street parking for directly affected residents and their visitors.
Ø The resulting parking displacement.
Ø There being no record of any safety issues involving pedestrians and traffic, since the opening of the convenience store (approximately 18 months ago).