Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Transport Assessment for Station Area Redevelopment

There were some astonishing claims repeated at the public meeting last night about the county's traffic impact assessment for the CB1 station area redevelopment. Chris Howell, Richard Normington and I were all present to help scrutinise the report. Considering the short notice for the meeting it was very well attended.

The central claim is that there will be "only a modest increase in vehicular traffic (16%)" on account of the restricted opportunities for parking - there would be one fewer parking spaces after the redevelopment! When quizzed about this figure (since the baseline figures used were questionable) the consultant admitted that the real figure was more like 35%, although apparently even a report by the developer, Ashwell, suggests that it would be 65%.

I questioned the validity of the report's assumption that car usage could be suppressed simply by having severe restrictions on parking within the development and asked for examples of any other developments that had such limited provision for parking. The consultant had nothing to say on this point - the assumption is essentially justified by assertion.

I also asked why the report does not include any analysis of the likely extent of overspill parking in Coleridge on and around Rustat Road. The response was effectively that reactive work could be considered on consulation with residents after the development has gone ahead but that this did not need further consideration at this stage.

The transport assessment has clearly failed here - its very naive assumptions about how easy it is to limit car use may well suggest that the development would be self-contained but no evidence has been presented as to how this development would be different from any other in that regard.

Despite its flawed assumptions, the report is otherwise quite thorough, and to be fair, it is suggested that the extra vehicular traffic that is conceded will not manifest itself at the peak times and so will not be such a problem.

This transport assessment forms part of the report to the central planning committee of the City Council which will consider the CB1 application on Wednesday 15th October at 9.30am in the Long Room at New Hall.

Chris Howell asked how independent the traffic impact assessment process had been from the applicant's drawing up of the plans and it was revealed that there had been an iterative process between the two parties. While this approach may have seemed like a practical solution for saving time and effort by all we are worried that the council officers and their consultants may unintentionally become inclined to compromise their assessment as a consequence of being involved in the development of the plans.

No comments: