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Agenda item

6.30pm Highways issues

Highways officers will answer any questions and give update son any highways or traffic issues in the area

Minutes:

Dave Atkinson began by asking whether everyone was familiar with the Eastfield Lane development (which was affirmed by those in attendance).  He went on to clarify that he had been invited (though not mandated) to attend the meeting as well as the scheduled parish council meeting in September 2022.   Although the application to build over 80 dwellings on Eastfield Lane had already been approved by the Planning Committee (with the proviso that construction traffic would be able to access the site), the traffic management plan had been rejected as it was not considered sufficiently detailed or robust. Consequently, Barratt Homes had been asked to revise and resubmit their plans.

 

The ensuing discussion demonstrated a keen sense of injustice, frustration and anger amongst residents, not only in connection with the proposed traffic management plan (which was considered to be basic, shoddy and incomplete), but also the manner in which the planning application had been seemingly rushed through without having taken into account the many objections raised by residents as well as Councillor Warters and Councillor Rowley.

 

Councillor Warters added that the development would be constructed on greenbelt land despite the availability of alternative brownfield sites in York and he felt aggrieved that the views of residents and local councillors had not been incorporated into either the planning application or the traffic management plan. 

 

There was also some ambiguity as to how residents could formally lodge their views and a query was raised as to how best to communicate with City of York Council in the future.

Dave Atkinson explained how to access the planning portal on the City of York Council website (20/01626/FULM).  He also confirmed that he was happy to relay residents’ comments to his colleagues in the Highways and Transport Department.  Councillor Warters added that residents could also contact their parish and ward councillors if they wished to express their views.

 

Several residents raised concerns regarding the feasibility and safety implications of allowing construction traffic (as well as a significantly increased number of vehicles resulting from the housing development) to operate along such a narrow road which would lead to mayhem and congestion.  It was felt very strongly that, at the outset, representatives from the Planning Committee, Highways and Transport Department and North Yorkshire Police, should have actively visited the site to review the traffic conditions on Eastfield Lane.  Had they done so, residents believed that its unsuitability to withstand the impact of additional construction/other vehicles would have been apparent.   Certain members of the community (including children and the elderly) were considered by residents to be at risk of being particularly affected by the disruption due to their increased vulnerability and impaired mobility.  The impact on emergency and agricultural vehicles was also flagged up.

 

In addition to increased congestion, residents also highlighted restricted access and parking constraints as potentially problematic issues.  Further questions were raised regarding the size and number of construction vehicles as well as the frequency of journeys on such a narrow road which, they felt, would result in chaos.  They also wondered as to the potential impact of traffic induced vibrations on nearby properties (although no practical suggestions were put forward).  Whatever the outcome, residents felt resigned to the inevitability of significant disruption within their community.

 

A query was then raised about the impact of construction work on funeral services (bearing in mind Dunnington Cemetery was on Eastfield Lane) and whether it would be possible to contact a representative from Barratt Homes to ensure that access to and from the cemetery would not be impeded.  Dave Atkinson gave assurances that a contact number would be provided.  However, another resident commented that access and egress  would be required at other times as well. 

 

Residents also highlighted the impact of construction on pedestrians and cyclists as various footpaths linked in with Eastfield Lane.  The increased traffic at the main junction into Dunnington was also considered to pose additional safety issues.

 

Dave Atkinson assured residents that he took their concerns very seriously and would be carrying out some work in advance regarding provision for cyclists and pedestrians which he would present at the parish council meeting in September.  He did, however, state his misgivings about low-cost cycle options as he felt they would attract opposition from other campaign groups who would want a more robust infrastructure.  In response, Councillor Warters flagged up the pause in the Wheldrake scheme.  Dave Atkinson pointed out that the pause had arisen due to land purchase issues as well as the length of the route (10km).  However, he went on to confirm that the scheme had not been abandoned.

 

Regarding the timeline of the traffic management plan as well as the construction of the development, Dave Atkinson believed that the revised traffic management plan was likely to be completed within a matter of weeks and assured residents that no construction work would commence until the plan had been approved.  Although he was unable to commit to an estimated time period for the construction work there was a general consensus that any time estimate would, in reality, be much longer. However, several residents felt aggrieved at the Eastfield Lane development in its entirety and felt that, whatever the outcome, it would not be a satisfactory one.

 

Councillor Warters believed it would be feasible for Eastfield Lane to become a temporary one-way system during the construction period.  However, he also added that a one-way system would be the least worst scenario and that whatever route Barratt Homes used, they would completely trash the road because of the sheer weight and frequency of the vehicles.

 

Councillor Rowley enquired as to whether the Highways and Transport Department could insist that Barratt Homes used the top of Eastfield Lane (as opposed to the church end).

Dave Atkinson believed that Barratt Homes might incorporate that idea as part of their revised plan, and he cited Butcher Terrace as an example of the Highways and Transport Department getting involved in situations when plans had been breached.

 

Councillor Rowley requested that as soon as the amended traffic management plan had been resubmitted, both he and Councillor Warters should be consulted.  Dave Atkinson confirmed that either he or his colleagues in the Highways and Transport Department would action this as soon as possible.

 

Action:  Dave Atkinson to provide a contact number to those requiring access to and from Dunnington Cemetery

 

Action:  Dave Atkinson to consult with Councillor Rowley and Councillor Warters following receipt of the revised traffic management plan

 

Parish Council Input

Various members of the local parish council contributed to the discussion and reiterated that the planning application had been rushed through with complete disregard for the many residents who had raised objections.  It was, therefore, considered not unreasonable to expect that residents’ concerns regarding the traffic management plan would be dealt with in the same dismissive way.

 

As the planning application had been approved despite considerable opposition, Councillor Rowley wondered whether there could be any form of redress through a judicial review (which, he acknowledged, could be very expensive).  A member of the parish council confirmed that a Queen’s Counsel (QC) had already been instructed to advise as to whether a judicial review was an option, and they were awaiting a response.  However, he conceded that this was the last roll of the dice.

 

Regarding traffic issues in general, there was an emphasis on the need to improve road safety through consistent speed control and appropriate signage.  It was felt that the different speed limits over a relatively short stretch of road were confusing and warranted simplification.  A proposal to create a one-way system along Church Lane was also suggested.

 

A query was raised as to why Eastfield Lane was subject to a national speed limit which some residents considered inappropriate bearing in mind the excessive speed at which vehicles drove through a residential area.  Dave Atkinson explained that there were three national speed limits (30mph in urban areas, 60mph on single-carriageway roads and 70mph on dual carriageways and motorways).  However, in order to reduce a speed limit from 60mph to 40mph a local authority had to take various factors into account, including the number of bends, access roads from the side and the number of residential properties.  A member of the parish council confirmed that a review of speed limits had been formally requested in writing over a year ago.

 

It was further noted that as some motorists used Eastfield Lane as a cut through to other parts of Dunnington (including Church Balk and Holly Tree Lane) any disruption would have a knock-on effect throughout the whole village. 

 

 

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