Insufficient information to assess traffic impact of mixed use scheme in former mill

The lack of information on traffic generation associated with a mixed-use scheme on a former textile mill in west Yorkshire meant that an inspector dismissed an appeal after concluding that it could give rise to a severe highway impact, contrary to paragraph 32 of the NPPF.

The scheme involved the provision of 61 dwellings some of which would be accommodated in a retained mill building, together with a 23-bedroom hotel, offices and a classic car restoration business. The appellant’s assessment of the anticipated trip generation predicted a daily traffic flow of 496 vehicles with between 70-80 during the morning and peak periods. This was compared with a single industrial use on the site and the appellant asserted that this demonstrated a significant net reduction in trip movements.

These results were widely disputed by local residents and elected members of the council who claimed that the actual movements associated with the mill up until it closed in 2015 were significantly less. The inspector noted the widely held view that the modelling provided a misleading evaluation of the potential impact on the wider road network and agreed he was unable to find in the appellant’s favour. Since no quantification of the effect on existing road conditions had been provided he was unable to conclude that the scheme would not have a severe and significant effect on highway safety. Some of the pedestrian linkages to bus stops were poor and he therefore also concluded that future users of the site would be heavily reliant on the use of private cars contrary to promoting sustainable travel choices.

Finally, since the mill was listed the inspector considered the potential impact on its historic fabric. In particular, a planned linked between two parts of the group of mill buildings would in his opinion lead to a loss of definition of its simple rectangular form. While the harm would be less than substantial the fact that he was dismissing the planning appeal, meant that the application for listed building consent also had to fail since the benefits of re-using the building would not accrue.

Inspector: Roger Catchpole; Hearing

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