Traffic Calming update

Following May’s Parish Council meeting the following email was sent to the B&NES highways department informing them of the Parish Councils decision:

Subject: Re: FW: Traffic Calming Scheme – Station Road, Clutton

Dear Tom 

As you can imagine, the traffic calming proposals were discussed at length at our Parish Council Meeting on Monday Night. 

We had a large turnout of residents with 21 members of public in attendance ( we normally get 2 or 3).  9 of which spoke of their support for the strongest possible measures and recounted anecdotes of near misses and their fear that a serious accident would occur.  A further 9 residents raised their hands to say that they were there as parents and supported the traffic calming measured previously agreed.   No-one spoke against the measures that had previously been agreed.

Following the public participation session the recommendation was put forward, that following the second marginal speed survey and the challenge from one member of public, the Parish Council should amend plans to an option 4 which included strong gateways into the village which would slow the traffic down, a build out/crossing outside the school (especially important now we have lost the school crossing patrol) and a virtual footway as in option 1.  we should also ask for a further speed survey, once the measures were put in place to establish whether further measures would be required.

However in the discussions that followed a number of other councillors spoke to voice their disappointment that option 2, (which had been recommended by B&NES highways officers, and been discussed at length and supported by the Parish Council), was now not being progressed because of a single challenge and that this was not democratic.  The speed surveys were marginal, but as residents we know that cars travel too fast.  The stretch of road should be considered as a specific case as it is used as a cut through from A37-A39, there are no pavements, there are blind corners, the width of the road changes and it is a route to school.  It was also pointed out that the second speed survey was carried out in winter, with darker nights and bad whether, when people were more likely to travel carefully, bringing the average down.

Therefore it was proposed that with the overwhelming backing of the residents the Parish Council put their full weight behind option 2.  This was agreed unanimously.

Kind Regards

Helen Richardson , Clutton Parish Clerk.

Their response was as follows:

Hi Helen,

Thanks for the info gathered from the PC meeting. It is unfortunate that the more conclusive 24h 7day speed data readings didn’t come in sooner (we had an issue with the company involved who went into liquidation after payment was made hence the delay in not receiving the data until February) as my recommendations within the feasibility study would have been slightly different. If you remember the PC were pushing for the report to be presented over Christmas so that you had time to discuss with and lobby the local member (Jeremy Sparks) to find funding for the scheme in 15/16 and the only way this deadline could be met was to use the 1 hour snapshot speed gun survey data already obtained. 

We (as a council) must be seen to be offering a consistent message to all villages that are requesting 20 mph speed limits, therefore the policy has always been;

  • If existing mean average vehicle speeds are under 24mph then a ‘signs only’ speed limit will be permitted.
  • If existing mean average speeds are between 24-26mph then further Engineering solutions would be require before a 20mph speed limit can be implemented. E.g. extra signing and lining, visual road narrowing, additional gateway treatments, flashing VAS signs etc.
  • If existing mean average speeds are above 26mph then traffic calming will be likely required.

I therefore must insist that a hybrid of Option 1 can be the only justifiable scheme that we can pursue at Station Road bearing in mind the mean average speed readings which give a conclusive reading of 24.5mph. The hybrid Option 1 that we will pursue to detailed design will include;

  • Significant 20mph Gateway (to likely include a narrowing + village name sign to include road safety message)
  • Virtual footway throughout Station Road
  • Pedestrian Build out opposite the school (justifiable with loss of School Crossing Patrol)
  • Post implementation Traffic Survey to monitor performance of new speed limit.

I apologise for the confusion this may have caused however we must adhere to the policy that we have set for introducing 20mph schemes in the rural communities otherwise if we don’t we would set a president and other villages would demand the same. Also if challenged it could open the Council up to a judicial review which in turn would then risk the delivery of all 20mph schemes in the rural communities in the short to medium term. 

I believe that the hybrid option 1 will still offer a huge benefit to the local community as well as offer good value for money considering the limited budget, as stated in the original feasibility study. Vehicle speeds will likely be further reduced and pedestrian safety should be greatly improved. I therefore aim to begin the detailed design of this Hybrid Option 1 in June/July and feed this back to the PC and Cllr Warrington before beginning the 20mph speed limit consultation period at the end of July. I will be back in touch with further details once this work has commenced. 

Kind Regards

Tom Hayward, Project Engineer

Bath & North East Somerset Council

The next step will be discussed at the Parish Council meeting on Monday 15th June.

In the news

It has been reported in Thursday’s Somerset Guardian that Curo have decided to sell the field opposite Maynard Terrace as they now realise that the project is not viable and appear to lay the blame with the Parish Council.

Here is the full statement from the Parish Council which has now been sent to the Somerset Guardian:

‘We were not surprised to hear of Curo’s decision to not pursue their proposed development in the field opposite Maynard Terrace.  We are well aware of the challenging site they had chosen, and over the years have seen other developers assess the field and walk away because of its unsuitability and because of the costs associated with this location.

Public opinion was overwhelmingly against the development with 185 letters from  local people objecting to it, for many valid reasons and no letters in support. 66% of the addresses were from within Clutton excluding Maynard Terrace, this clearly shows that we are representing the majority of the village.  Additionally 73 people came to the Parish Council meeting at which this was discussed and only 1 person spoke in support, so it was clearly our duty to put their views forward in our consultation reply.

As a Parish Council we have tried to work with Curo – at our request there have been two meeting with them on the 22nd May 2014 and 4th Feb 2015, at which we discussed the problems  and put forward suggestions for alternative layouts/build details, some of which would have resulted in long term savings for the ongoing maintenance of their properties. Both these meetings were minuted and copies sent to the planning cases officers involved. At no time did Curo indicate that the sort of improvements we were suggesting in order to comply with planning guidance and best practice would cause difficulties in terms of the viability of the scheme.

It should have been clear to Curo, as developers, from the start that the site would prove to be expensive to build on. Anyone, even someone without experience in development, can see by looking at the site, and at Ordnance Survey maps, that the site slopes steeply with deep undulations. Maps of the geology, available from Ordnance Survey and on line from the Coal Authority, show that 3 coal seams outcrop in the development area, and that additionally there is one mine shaft and several bell pits on the site.  All of these can be remediated, but at a cost. As developers they must surely have known this and factored it in before they purchased the land.

Outline permission having been granted, the Parish Council, representing residents, took the view that it should work constructively to secure the best possible design and layout. The fact that the scheme brought forward by Curo bore so little resemblance to the original proposals, either in appearance or quality, was entirely Curo’s decision and can only reflect a failure to listen to residents and accurately assess the real costs of developing this awkward site to an acceptable standard in the first place. The Parish Council’s formal objections to the detailed application are all carefully based on planning best practice and adherence to important B&NES planning policies.

We support the provision of affordable housing in the right location and would urge any developer wanting to build in Clutton, to work with the Parish Council to identify a site and scheme that would benefit local people and which could be supported by the local community.