North Taunton Development

Our objection to the two Staplegrove planning applications 34/16/0007 (West) / 34/16/0014 (East)

January 2017

We would like this submission to replace the earlier submission from Taunton Area Cycling Campaign(TACC). Having looked fully at the proposals for walking and cycling at a special TACC meeting, and taking into the recent designation of Taunton as a garden town (and the associated high environment standards,  we object to the current proposals for the following reasons:

  1. Policy

We believe that the current proposals do not adhere to the below stated policies for reasons set out in 2-7 below.

All new developments need to be sustainable, must not lead to an large increase in car use and must integrate into the existing community. The development must fully support Government planning policy (National Planning Policy Framework) which specifically states:

“Plans should protect and exploit opportunities for the use of sustainable transport modes for the movement of goods or people. Therefore, developments should be located and designed where practical to;

-give priority to pedestrian and cycle movements, and have access to high quality public transport facilities;

-create safe and secure layouts which minimise conflicts between traffic and cyclists or pedestrians…”

The opportunity should be taken to design the road system and walking/cycling networks so that the later have shorter distance advantage for shorter trips (for example through use of filtered permeability for pedestrians and cyclists). The public health benefits of high levels of walking and cycling would be considerable. Traffic levels would also be reduced. Taunton is compact and has favourable topography for walking and cycling.  The recently published DfT Walking and Cycling Strategy states : “We want to make cycling and walking the natural choice for shorter journeys, or as part of a longer journey” and the “long term goal up to 2040 is that walking and cycling should be a normal part of everyday life, and the natural choice for shorter journeys such as the commute to school, college, work or leisure trips. We want to create a nation where cycling and walking are the norm for all people whatever their background or characteristics.”  The proposed scheme does not support these., for reasons that we set out below.

Other key policies that must be adhered to:

SADMP Policy TAU2

Design and travel planning measures to achieve a significant shift to moresustainable forms of transport including, within residential areas, a maximum20mph design speed and shared surface streets;

Provision of connected streets designed to be suitable for cycling and walking attractive means of transport.

Good cycle connections to existing cycle routes, in particular towards the town centre via Gipsy Lane, Clifford Avenue/The Uppers, Bindon Road

SADMP Policy A3

  1. Provision of lighting on paths within, and where appropriate, between urban areas to enable cycling after dark.
  1. Implementation of cycle schemes identified in the Count Council’s Future Transport Plan.

SCC Future Transport Plan (page 7)

“We will encourage people to cycle more by helping them to make smarter travel choices and get better cycling skills. We will support the provision of appropriate and well connected cycling facilities.”

  1. Spine Road Cycleway

The Spine Road cycleway only provides a route on the north side. To avoid a conflict with contraflow and cyclists tempted to use the carrigeway on the south side (at 6.75 metres the road is not wide enough for this. Traffic will have to cross the centre of the road in order to overtake cyclists) the cycleway should be provided on both sides. This will also reduce the need to cross the road and help to promote best practice for the rest of the development.

The  combined cycleway and footway planned for the north side of the Spine Road does not accord with recommendations given in Manual for Streets 2 where it suggests accommodating cyclists on the main carrigeway is the preferred option in urban areas. The cycleway should be segregated from both motor traffic and pedestrians which would indicate to all road users who had right of way at junctions. This is supported by SADMP Policy TAU2 “Good cycle connections………. along the route of the Northern Distributor Road” (Spine Road) Although there will be controlled crossing facilities on the Spine Road near the school in the east there will only be uncontrolled crossings at other locations on the route.’

  1. Cycleway treatments at new junctions

The provision for cycleways are not clear at the new junctions planned for Staplegrove Road A358 and Kingston Road/ Taunton Road. These should connect up with existing or new routes into the town centre. SADMP Policy TAU2 calls for “good connections to existing cycle routes”

  1. Impact on and viability of Corkscrew Lane as a cycling and walking route

It is predicted (by the promoters) that the traffic levels on Manor Road / Corkscrew Lane will drop once the Spine Road in open to through traffic. This may not be for 5 years. This route will take the extra traffic generated by the development if the proposed “drop down road” access at Village World goes ahead.  The minutes of the Executive Council 11th November 2015 recorded that the Councillors could not support the “proposed use of Manor Road / Corkscrew Lane as a means of access to the new development”

The Council and the planning committee must adhere to their statement.  In doing so this will help protect this narrow country lane used by pedestrians and cyclists from the increase of traffic that will result from the new development.

  1. Links from the development to key destinations

On the 3rd November 2015 the TDBC Community Scrutiny Committee discussed the North Taunton Framework Plan and Development Brief. They acknowledged that Taunton had one of the highest levels of cycling of any non-University town and therefore “reasonable to expect new cycle facilities to be exemplars” and that “funding will need to be identified to improve off-road cycle links from Staplegrove towards the town centre”.

Given that the council are pursuing “Garden Town” status and that the “Draft Infrastructure Schedule” submitted by the promoters for Staplegrove West has identified CIL as a means of paying for “improved connecting cycle routes” there should be a commitment by the Council to provide a first class, seamless cycle network both towards the town and station and from the development to Taunton Academy. (We note that SCC have asked for a link to Taunton Academy, and we support this).

SADMP states that cycling and walking levels will be performance indicators for the development. There appears to be a contradiction between the desire to secure funds explicitly for highway capacity improvements externally to the site whilst not doing this for walking and cycling external links.

  1. Over engineered junction schemes

An over engineered design at Kingston Road/Corkscrew Lane should be avoided and the existing landscape character respected. Consideration to a compact roundabout with tight geometry, retaining the existing toucan crossing. This is consistent with guidance in Design Manual for Streets 2.

  1. No link has been identified for Kingston St Mary

The parish of Kingston St Mary is developing a community plan. A household survey showed that a sizeable majority  find it important to have off- road pedestrian and cycle routes that link Kingston St Mary village and the wider parish to Taunton. We are aware of the aspirations of people living in Kingston St Mary for a safe cycling link into Taunton and strongly support this. It is essential that the north-south cycling/walking link via the East Staplegrove extends at least as far as Nailsbourne (from where there are options to link through to Kingston). This would act as a traffic mitigation measure for the new development.

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