Highways officials ‘steer’ developers away from creating cycle link to Ely leisure park across busy A10 on health and safety grounds
PUBLISHED: 12:48 20 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:48 20 August 2020
The company building 258 homes in the latest phase of the Ely North project say they were “steered away” by the county council from linking up a cycle route to the Hive leisure complex.
Taylor Wimpey representatives revealed the lack of a cycling route during a planning committee meeting at East Cambridgeshire District Council.
The firm was “signing off” its reserved matters approval that includes landscaping, layout and appearance for the site north of Cam Drive off the A10.
This is the second phase of development on the site which formed part of the wider North Ely scheme.
Dan Humphries, planning co-ordinator for Taylor Wimpey East Anglia and his colleagues planning manager Andrew Wright and engineer manager Martyn Rodzian addressed the committee and answered questions.
Councillor Alec Jones said he was largely happy with the proposals “but noted that the local highways authority (LHA) had raised a number of issues”.
These included the fact that the cycle path did not link up going towards the leisure centre.
He asked if there was any reason why this was not included in the design.
Mr Humphries replied that they had spoken to the LHA about a new connection “but had been steered away from it, as the LHA was not happy, on health and safety grounds, with taking pedestrians to the 60-mph carriageway”.
It had been a point raised by a resident as part of consultations on the reserved matters application.
“I strongly believe that if we are to have more houses, and this side of the pedestrian access to the leisure park, then we need a pedestrian crossing going across Downham Road which leads into the grassed area to the underpass,” he wrote.
“Crossing the road to the cut through to the grassed area is treacherous.
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“The more houses we have this side, the more people will be crossing to access the leisure park. There is no safe crossing for families, children or adults to get there.”
In her report to the committee, Angela Briggs, the council’s planning team leader, accepted that “specific consultee comments” had been raised in regards to a link to the new cinema and leisure park off Downham Road.
“The questions specifically related to why there was not a direct link from the site to the leisure park,” she said.
“Phase 3 is the closest of the sites to the leisure park and would appear to be in the best location to offer this. “However, the site is also close to the A10 which is a very busy single carriageway of 60mph traffic speeds.”
She said that prior to the submission of their application, Taylor Wimpey took on board these questions and spoke to the LHA about providing a footpath connection in the south/western corner of the development to the existing A10 roundabout.
“This was considered as fundamentally dangerous by the LHA and a pedestrian link would not be supported on highway safety grounds,” she said.
“There is a dropped kerb crossing at the end of Downham Road, before the A10/Little Downham roundabout which then leads to the underpass to the leisure park.
“Furthermore, this area is outside of the application site and an additional crossing in this location is not required by the S106 or the outline planning permission, and therefore the local planning authority cannot insist that this is provided.”
Ms Briggs said the layout therefore retains the cycle link to Cam Drive which would link to this dropped kerb towards the leisure park and towards Lynn Road in the other direction.
Planning manager Rebecca Saunt told the committee that the Taylor Wimpey site bound the A10 to the west, the Phase 1 (Hopkins Homes) development to the east, and Cam Drive to the south.
The scheme was part of the much larger proposals for the area that was approved in 2016 to create a ‘special extension to a special city’.
Outline planning permission was approved in 2016 with a S106 legal agreement for up to 1200 homes, employment and community uses including a care home and an extra care home.
Councillors questioned how easy it would be to cycle to the city centre; the planning manager replied that this had been dealt with as part of the outline application but there was a cycle route along the front of the site.
The application approved.
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