Highway safety concerns rejected in housing scheme dispute

After carefully examining the walking and driving routes between a planned scheme of approximately 90 dwellings in north Wales, an inspector decided that there were insufficient grounds for refusing permission particularly since the council was unable to demonstrate an adequate supply of housing land.

The council and a local residents’ group were concerned about the route between the site and a town centre which comprised a steep gradient and containing sections of narrow road with limited or non-existent footways and restricted visibility. This would deter pedestrians and cyclists, the council claimed, and increase car usage which would add to vehicular conflicts.

During the course of the inquiry the inspector drove and walked various permutations of the route and took into account the fact that it was outside the tourist season. There had been one serious and one minor personal injury accidents in the past 16 years but local residents stated that these figures were in fact too low. The nature of the carriageway width and alignment generally led to lower traffic speeds which would in part account for the low accident record, the inspector decided. The appellant had also put forward a range of schemes which could be implemented to improve connectivity including new footpaths, priority flows and traffic calming measures. Of the seven possible schemes two were not necessary to make the scheme acceptable and a section 106 obligation would ensure that the council was able to be fully involved in agreeing which ones should be implemented.

The impact on the landscape, while not raised by the council, was an issue for local residents. But a suitably designed and landscaped scheme would ensure that it could be absorbed into the local area with little impact on visual receptors. The scheme would assist in meeting local demand and would not have a negative impact on the Welsh language.

Inspector: Kay Sheffield; Inquiry

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