Safety First – Highway authority criticised in 350-dwelling refusal

11 Nov 2019

Planning and Environment

Planning permission refused for 350 dwellings at Portchester in Hampshire.

This s.78 planning inquiry related to proposed housing development beyond the built-up area boundary and across a railway line.

The appeal was dismissed because of unacceptable harm to pedestrian safety and operation of the public highway arising from the proposed use of the existing railway bridge to access services and facilities in the town.

On the main issue, Inspector Grahame Gould BA MPhil MRTPI, appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, held that should the development proceed, unacceptable harm would arise from the increased use of an existing vehicular and pedestrian bridge, to cross the railway to access services and facilities in the town.

The existing bridge contained no pavement and separated pedestrians from vehicles by a white painted line. The council and appellant had agreed that the development would generate up to 36 pedestrian crossings of the bridge per day, an increase of between 83 per cent and 86 per cent on the present situation and a 22 per cent increase in traffic flow on the bridge, up to 6,750 daily movements.

The appellant had put forward various options for improving safety and traffic flows but in spite of the highways authority entering into a statement of common ground with the Appellant agreeing that two options were acceptable, the Inspector disagreed:

  • One option involved provision of a 1.2-metre-wide footway and some road narrowing. The inspector held this would not provide a safe bridge crossing facility for pedestrians, having regard to both the increases in vehicular and pedestrian crossings of the bridge.
  • A second option proposed a two-metre footway and a single lane carriageway with shuttle working arrangement. The inspector held the option would result in unacceptable levels of queuing and delay for vehicular users of the road. The Inspector was critical of the appellant’s use of roundabout queuing software modelling in assessing vehicle queuing times for this option, and the fact the highways authority had accepted it. He found the council’s use of recently produced microsimulation software to be more accurate.

The inspector discounted both these options as either unsafe or resulting in severe delays, conflicting with adopted local plan and NPPF transport policies. This was despite the lack of highways objection.

Please click here for a copy of the decision.

David Lintott acted for the local planning authority in the inquiry.