Council faces costs for disregarding advice on highway impacts

49 affordable homes on an allocated site on the edge of a settlement in Worcestershire were allowed, and partial costs awarded, with no material harm found to the surrounding highway network.

One of the main issues related to the effect of the development on highway safety. The council’s planning committee, contrary to its officers’ advice, had felt the proposal would increase traffic movements such that the potential for conflict, delays and accidents would be increased. In looking at the evidence the inspector noted that the weekday peak hour trip rates were predicted to be 24 two-way trips (0800-0900) and 26 two-way trips (1700- 1800), which she felt was relatively modest. Additionally, accident records did not indicate that there were any inherent highway safety issues near the site. On this basis, there was unlikely to be vehicle conflict or delay.

The appellant’s transport statement found that the development would not have a material effect on the surrounding highway network. Moreover, the Highways Authority did not object to the proposal in terms of the development’s impact on the local road network and the inspector attached significant weight to this advice. She found that it had been demonstrated that safe and suitable access to the site could be achieved and the local road network had capacity to accommodate the traffic resulting from the development, in accordance with local and national planning policies.

A partial award of costs against the council was made by the inspector who found that unreasonable behaviour had been demonstrated as the council’s first reason for refusal contained vague, generalised and inaccurate assertions about the proposal’s transport impacts, which were unsupported by objective analysis. The council had not sought to challenge the evidence of likely trip generation and accident data. Instead it had sought to rely on the perceived impacts of an increase in traffic, and in doing so had disregarded the facts.

Inspector: Debbie Moore; Hearing

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