Highway authority criticised in 350-dwelling refusal

350 dwellings in the open countryside across a railway line and beyond the built-up area of a settlement in Hampshire has been refused for unacceptable harm to pedestrian safety and operation of the public highway arising from use of the existing railway bridge to access services and facilities in the town.

The determining issue in the appeal revolved around the increased use of an existing vehicular and pedestrian bridge, arising from the development, to cross the railway to access services and facilities in the town. The existing bridge only provided a very rudimentary refuge for pedestrians in the form of a very narrow margin that comprised a strip of tarmac demarcated by a white painted line. The council and appellant had agreed that the development would generate up to 36 pedestrian crossings of the bridge per day, an increase of between 83 per cent and 86 per cent on the present situation and a 22 per cent increase in traffic flows on the bridge, up to 6,750 daily movements. The appellant had put forward various options for improving safety and traffic flows but having considered these in detail the inspector held that none of those promoted were acceptable. One option involved provision of a 1.2-metre-wide footway and some road narrowing. The inspector held this would not provide a safe bridge crossing facility for pedestrians, having regard to both the increases in vehicular and pedestrian crossings of the bridge. Another option proposed a wider footway at two metres but a reduction in the carriageway to form a single lane and shuttle working arrangement. In this respect, the inspector held the option would result in unacceptable levels of queuing and delay for vehicular users of the road. The inspector directly criticised the appellant’s use of roundabout queuing software modelling in assessing vehicle queuing times for this option, and the fact the highways authority had accepted it, considering the council’s use of newer microsimulation software. Despite the lack of highways objection to both these options, the inspector discounted them as either unsafe or resulting in severe delays, conflicting with adopted local plan and NPPF transport policies.

Inspector: Grahame Gould; inquiry

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