Thursday, 24 October 2013

Upper Chapel plans unanimously rejected by Cornwall Council

The proposal to build 100 new homes on land to the north of Upper Chapel in Launceston was today rejected unanimously by Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee. My hope is that the applicants accept their defeat and don't press on with an appeal that affronts local wishes and local democracy.

My huge thanks to all the councillors on the committee who voted against the plans in spite of an officer recommendation to approve. Particular thanks to Bernie Ellis and Andrew Long for proposing and seconding the rejection.

Thanks also to the public speakers - Dave Gordon and Graham Facks-Martin from the town council, Terry Jones from St Thomas parish council and local resident Beryl Parish. All made a very eloquent case against the plan, as did my colleague Adam Paynter.

This is what I said to the committee:
"I would like to thank those members who attended the site visit and packed public meeting on this proposal.

Those who attended would have noted that no-one spoke in favour of the application. Indeed, I have spoken to hundreds of local people about this scheme and not found a single person who supports it.

I chaired the town framework process which you have been told about. We rejected the idea of any development in this area and I believe that you should reject this application on the same basis.

That basis is the certain detrimental effect on local highways and increased traffic congestion.

There are two principle access routes to this site. One is along Meadowside which is a quiet estate. Unfortunately, the junction at the end of that estate at Western Terrace is a very difficult, many would say dangerous, junction and most local residents choose not to use it wherever possible.

The other route - that chosen by most drivers - is through Moorland Road and St Johns Road. This has a narrow, traffic light controlled, junction at the end but to get there you have to go down a very narrow and windy estate road. This route is further complicated by having a primary school and police station part way along.

At peak times - during the morning and afternoon school rushes - this route is practically impassable. Despite many attempts over the years, it has proved impossible to cut the number of cars here and we usually see cars double or triple parked or parked on pavements. I do not believe that it is possible to fit a single extra car down this road at peak times and this proposal will produce such traffic demand.

Whilst the Police Station does not usually create too many additional cars, it should be noted that this is the only custody suite in North Cornwall. As such, there are times when there are considerable numbers of additional cars associated with the station - far in excess of the capacity of the station car parks. This leads to many extra cars parked in Moorland or St Johns roads at unpredictable times.

I believe the highways officer has not properly considered the congestion aspect in any sort of detail. I regret that as I believe that this is a significant planning reason for refusal and is the principle concern of local people.

I would further argue that the likely impact on many other local roads has not been properly considered. When they cannot get down Moorland Road, many drivers use Carboth Lane or St Catherine’s Hill for access and the likely impact of additional traffic, however few, on these roads will create additional congestion.

There is some discussion within the report about the introduction of traffic calming measures along Moorland and St Johns Roads in order to provide greater safety for those using the school. I do not believe that speeding is a significant issue in this area and the proposal to add traffic humps or chicanes will create far more problems, rather than fewer.

Finally, there is the risk to our town bus route. This is a vital local service which runs via Moorland and St Johns Roads. This service already suffers as a result of the congestion on Moorland Road in particular. The bus often has to mount the pavement to get through and there are times when it simply cannot get through at all. The additional traffic that will be generated by the scheme will only add to the congestion in Moorland and St Johns Road and create even more of a risk that the town bus service will be withdrawn completely. Any humps would simply make matters even worse.

This leads to a question over sustainability. The proposal notes that cycling in this area is difficult due to topography and so no cycle route is proposed. For the same reasons, walking is difficult. With the additional risk to the town bus route caused by this development, this can be seen as an island development which lacks the sustainability criteria that we seek.

So on the basis of the huge existing congestion issues and the likelihood that this application will make matters far worse, I believe that it should be refused."

4 comments:

R OB said...

Well done!

R OB said...

Well done!

Bryan Gynn said...

I would think that the whole of Launceston can say thank you to yourself and all the speakers who as you say, spoke so eloquently to reinforce local concerns to County Councillors who listen. I believe one County Councillor even revisited the school for a second time due to his concern after the site visit.

Regards Bryan Gynn.

Kerran Parish said...

I was so pleased to hear that the development was rejected unanimously my Cornwall Council. I really think that the strength of feeling within the community was listened to. Thank you Alex and Adam for the support that you have given to the residents during this process. Well done to all of the speakers, who spoke so well (Well done Mum!)I concur and hope that Hallam developments do not appeal.