note: There are a number of parties working for Barratt Homes, so for ease of reading I refer to all of them as Barratt Homes, as Barratt have commissioned/endorsed their work in support of the application.
When Barratt Homes submitted their latest amendments, we were looking forward to a new design for the application site and for Barratt Homes to take the opportunity to come clean with an honest representation to enable a fair and sensible debate.
Although they’ve come up with a much better site layout, disappointingly Barratt Homes and their co-conspiritors have stayed true to form.
It is my perception that Barratt Homes may have gone through the process of gathering the facts, doing the various calculations and projections needed to support their application, then when they found this caused substantial problems for them ( using the real facts ), they chose to simply make it up!
In Barratt Homes latest proposals for 245 houses, they have inadvertently supplied evidence themselves that it simply won’t work! Adding insult to injury, they are even arrogant and dismissive enough of due process that they’ve put a disclaimer in their latest submission stating that they “do not take any responsibility for its accuracy”! Unbelievable I hear you say!!!….
Gaps in the proposal
Barratt Homes have absolutely not dealt with the flooding issues posed by the Newstead Brook and the culvert. There is still nothing in the plans that will credibly deal with this serious threat which now includes run-off from Stanley Matthews Way. The Culvert is a key concern as it is the main constraint for the brook which gets overwhelmed anyway, even before the Stanley Matthews Way run-off is added to the flow.
The old, discredited bat survey is now out of date, a new survey has not been submitted and this is essential for the approval process.
In a demonstration of arrogant hypocrisy, Barratt Homes have seen it necessary to include a second access point to their site for “emergency access”, recognising that it is unsafe to have only one access to an estate of 245 houses.
Whereas they feel it’s not necessary to have a second access point to the Meadow Lane estate which encompasses the whole of the existing estate plus the 245!
There is also no mention of where they are going to stack all those trucks that will be waiting to enter the site at 7:30 in the morning. There is absolutely nowhere safe for them queue on the estate or surrounding area. See the photo below of trucks queueing on Stanley Matthews Way to enter the development site and causing chaos and traffic safety issues as commuters try to navigate the partially blocked road.
Problems in the new submission
Have you seen the issues with surface water on the Meadow? Due to the impermeable ground, water can’t soak away. To tackle this, Barratt have included “Indicative swales” (trenches) in their new site diagrams. However, there is nothing about how they will work, given the impermeable clay nature of the ground, their capacity or how they will stop the water entering the brook or even how they will deal with the surface flooding risk evidenced in the “cow island” photo. Nor have they calculated the capacity of the brook to handle the base flood flow, Stanley Matthews flood run-off and the swale overflow from the meadow’s ground water. I do hope home owners have wellies!
Due to discrediting of the previous Traffic data submitted by Barratt Homes, a new Air Quality assessment has been submitted. The problem with this, is that the new Air Quality assessment it is based on the new Traffic Assessment, which as you’ll read below substantially mis-represents traffic data, which yet again undermines this particular new report, thereby rendering it useless.
Do you live on the Pacific Road estate? If so, did you notice your house rising by 2 meters to make your garden level with the canal tow path? Thought not! According to Barratt Homes’ meticulously drawn up plans, the Pacific road estate adjacent to the tow path is actually at the same height as the tow path. Why would they misrepresent this? Surely not to make it appear that the new houses wouldn’t overlook the existing estate or that those new three story houses wouldn’t appear overbearing and out of place? If you look very carefully at Barratt Homes own documents, it’s obvious that they know this is wrong as they’ve left in a small hight indicator that’s visible when you magnify the drawing.
Below you can see Barratt Homes misrepresentation of ground height; evidence from their own map; and photos of reality.
Barratt cite 6 Biscay Grove, but for those of us who actually live in the area, you’ll be familiar with the facts as evidenced in the photos and Barratt’s own survey!
According to Barratt Homes, local facilities are within walking distance, however as highlighted on this site in the “When is a metre not a metre? When it supports a Barratt Homes planning application” They’re not! According to planning guidelines (Providing Journeys on Foot 2000), there are clearly NO local facilities within a desirable or acceptable walking distance. The “Manual for Streets” guidance and SoT Council guidance state that local facilities should be within 800m of the centre of the site. There are categorically NO facilities within this range.
There is one bus stop accessible from the centre of the site and it’s at least 970m away with three buses an hour. Barratt Homes go on to misrepresent the National Travel Survey, to say that 85% of residents of the new development would walk to the bus stop. However….. the National Travel Survey actually says that only 15% of residents would walk to a bus stop that far away. So in their own way Barratt Homes have kindly confirmed that for 85% of residents who would choose to use the bus, they simply won’t because it’s too far to walk, thereby breaching the guidelines they are supposed to adhere to for the planning application. Barratt Homes have also forgot, Ahmm! to reference all of the guidelines that this contravenes!
National guidelines that Barratt are supposed to adhere to, say they should take up every option to make the site sustainable. This clearly includes constructing a foot bridge over the canal, which would bring the development into line with guidelines for walking distances to public transport (400m not 970m) and local facilities. There are obvious places where the bridge could land on the Pacific road side of the canal, but without foundation or evidence, Barratt have dismissed the only option they have to comply with guidelines. As the provision of a footbridge looks quite feasible, I wonder if a reduction in profits is at the core of the arbitrary dismissal of the footbridge option?
Traffic – sheer fantasy!
The Transport Assessment appears to be a work of fiction, so we’re not really sure why Barratt Homes have submitted it. Does this have a whiff of wrongdoing?
Less traffic than 2008?
Barratt claim that their recent illegitimate traffic survey shows that there is 25% less traffic on Longton Road than was recorded in 2012, and even 9% less than 2008 yes thats right… 2008! May be if they checked the facts, they’d have noticed that their numbers are way out of kilter with every year since 2007! We’re not sure if this is incompetence or cynical misrepresentation. A reputable company, having noticed this discrepancy would have declared it, then commissioned a traffic sensitivity test and /or re-do the survey to validate their results and publish the reason for such a seemingly substantial discrepancy. You’ve guessed it… Barratt Homes have not declared it or submitted any such report. This one fact alone makes the report questionable and unreliable.
Flared Approach to Meadow Lane
Having looked into the facts about the strange proposal for the end of Meadow Lane that sees the introduction of a two lane queue, reduction of pavement from 3m to 2m, a wider turn in, but nothing else, a few questions arise.
The key question is how on earth can Barratt Homes claim that this will have a substantial positive impact on traffic at the junction? The issue here is that although it looks as though it should improve traffic flow, the evidence and the algorithms used in the PICADY (Priority Intersection Capacity and Delay) model show that it can create more delay for vehicles exiting the junction than would be the case with a single lane. This is mainly because drivers have their view obscured by the vehicle to the side of them and are more reluctant to pull out for safety reasons. The controlling factor is the traffic on Longton Road, which the changes would do absolutely nothing to affect.
One more key point glossed over by Barratt Homes, is that their proposed changes would result in a mis-alignment of the new junction with the Canal Mews exit. This in itself is enough to warrant a Traffic Safety study of the changes, but… unsurprisingly they haven’t commissioned one, thereby making the proposal unsafe.
As a worst case scenario Barratt have kindly provided a diagram of a 12m truck turning into Meadow Lane with the new layout. The diagram looks as though there is no issue, until you dig deeper and find that this also grossly misrepresents reality. What they don’t say, is that their model assumes that the truck, will come to a stop on Longton Road before then turning left into Meadow Lane, nor do they say that other types of vehicles and/or larger vehicles will also have to turn in… but… they can’t do that without also stopping to turn and then need to use most or all of the bell mouth of the road to turn and/or mount the new narrower 2m pavement.
These omissions mean that the junction design is unsafe for construction traffic as it will impact on traffic on Longton Road and furthermore if a car is in the right hand lane of Meadow Lane, the truck will have to hold up traffic on Longton Road until Meadow Lane is cleared. Should a truck be turning right into Meadow Lane, when a car is waiting at the junction then it’s even worse as neither will be able to move.
Then of course, there is the small issue of navigating Meadow Lane and Chessington Crescent turns, which are much tighter and have vehicles parked on the road.
Barratt have to demonstrate that they can do this safely, but because they can’t they’ve simply not commented, hoping no one will notice. Check out reality in the photo above of queueing trucks on Stanley Matthews Way. There is absolutely no way a single one of them would be able to get down Meadow Lane/Chessington Crescent safely, particularly if angry residents legally park vehicles on the road outside their own properties.
Would you really submit your report without substantiating evidence for your claims? Barratt Homes have! There are a few points under this heading so here we go…
Barratt claim that during peak hours the queues at the end of Meadow Lane get to about three vehicles deep. That’s not the Meadow Lane I queue on!It appears that they’ve made it up, and even if they did do a proper queue survey, they’ve not provided any evidence to support it. The fact is that queues at the end of Meadow Lane can reach double figures at peak times, so not really sure why Barratt would misrepresent reality this way, let alone not provide any evidence for their outlandish claim. This makes quite a difference to the traffic model!
Capacity base model
The lane widths on Longton Road are actually 3.5m each, totalling 7m for both lanes which is what the PICADY model works on. Barratt Homes have chosen to use 7.5m in the base model and other incorrect geometry for the junction. This shows the junction having more capacity than it actually has today. ( for clarity… this is TOTALLY WRONG )
Then for the future… you take the same base model, plug in the ‘improvements’ and the future predicted traffic volume to show how the junction will then function in the new scenario.
We were astonished to see that Barratt Homes future model has been altered to show Longton Road with a width of 8.5m. This means that in the modelling scenario, one of the two Longton Road lanes, effectively becomes a dual carriageway! Now this makes a SIGNIFICANT difference to the model and accounts for the unrealistic and fictitious capacity improvements that Barratt claim for the ‘flared approach’ changes, which at best could have a totally minuscule insignificant impact.
Just to be clear… Barratt Homes calculations are based on the fantasy that in the future scenario, one Longton Road lane will inexplicably widen itself sufficiently to be able to get two vehicles down it side by side ( a dual carriageway ). Incredible!!
So, to be absolutely clear again…. even without traffic from the proposed development, if Barratt Homes use genuine geometry and put in the changes to the junction, the junction will have less capacity and longer queues than their base model says it does today.
How did they get it so wrong?
With this development relying totally on a single access route you would have thought that a responsible Barratt Homes would have commissioned a topographical survey of the junction to make sure the design of the new junction will be safe and can handle the increased traffic.
However, true to form yet again, it appears that no survey was done and for some unfathomable reason it appears that they just used an Ordinance Survey map to work out the geometry for the changes to the junction and didn’t bother to check it. It is widely recognised that Ordinance Survey maps are unreliable around 1m and this may account for the inaccuracies in the Barratt base model, however the same can not be said of the inexplicable width alteration of Longton Road to 8.5m in the future model. Readers should make up their own minds as to if they think Barratt Homes are totally incompetent or did this deliberately.
And the unbelievable highlight of Barratt’s work of fiction is that the Transport Assessment could swing approval of the application one way or the other and its accuracy is critical for road traffic safety. But Barratt Homes and their consultants have been confident/arrogant enough to submit it with the following disclaimer on the critical diagram of the proposed junction; that they:
“do not take any responsibility for its accuracy”
Clearly there is nothing they can do to the junction to make it work safely for the development proposal if they model the junction based the facts. Their Transport Assessment report should be rejected by planning officers as unsafe and unreliable!
Furthermore, this begs the question as to why they feel sufficiently confident that they thought this latest comedy of errors submission would get the green light from the council? This is concerning and casts a dubious shadow….. something else for us to look into!