Update on Designers Response Report

The Council have uploaded the Designers Response Report to the planning portal.  You’ll see it at the bottom of the documents list for some reason and it’s called “RESPONSE REPORT – STAGE 2 RSA”.   If you scroll all the way down to “Appendix B – Decision Log”, you’ll see the response to the concerns raised in the safety audit.

In a nutshell, the developers propose to do nothing to mitigate the NEW risks they introduce with this proposed change to the junction design.

The risks identified in the Safety Audit were;

  1. graze-type collisions,
  2. head-on collisions
  3. pedestrian strikes by HGVs

We should not be surprised by this, as it is consistent with developers disrespect for public safety in name of profit.

So if you happen to think that this is a damning indictment of Barratt Homes, then please do feel free to object to the proposals on the grounds;

A) the developers do not propose to mitigate the risks as per their own Road Safety Audit and therefore the changes will introduce NEW serious risks to the junction that will impact pedestrians and vehicles.

B) the developers use the excuse that they would need to use more third party land at number 243 Longton Road to mitigate one of the risks and this is not feasible.  The developers OWN this land, so this claim is ridiculous.

C) the developers are hiding behind the Inspectors rationale for granting planning permission.  However the Inspector was not qualified in Highways Engineering and the detailed design must be signed off by the Local Highways Authority as technically safe and  based on sound engineering principles, which of course the design the inspector ‘approved’ meets neither of these criteria.

D) the developers have not yet submitted a capacity assessment that follows best practice guidance and sound engineering principles which  includes the modelling principles of TRL.  Therefore the base model they rely on, is not fit for purpose and results in serious Highway Safety Risks.

 

KOMG Conclusion on the proposal

There is critical information missing from the application that make it impossible for residents to develop a properly informed opinion on which they can comment on the application.

    1. The missing Designer’s Response to the Road Safety Audit (RSA) is a crucial document that requires the LHA’s approval and sign-off.
    2. The RSA recommendations are damning; citing risk of collisions and potential of HGV strikes on pedestrians.
    3. The matters determined at appeal do not include the technical sign-off of the junction design by the LHA regarding Highway Safety.  The design given planning permission is still subject to LHA technical sign-off and approval, which must take into consideration the risks related to the points raised in this document.
    4. The design of the original junction is;
      • Flawed and has zero separation between large vehicles entering Meadow Lane and pedestrianised area.
      • The pedestrian refuge is out of the pedestrian desire line, and therefore creates a Highway Safety issue.
      • The capacity assessment of the junction using Junctions 9 software is seriously flawed;

The developer could rectify the dispute about the Highway Safety technical issues related to the junction once and for all by simply being honest and demonstrating that the junction improvements are indeed safe by;

  • (A) providing the missing Designer’s Response to the RSA showing how the RSA recommendations are to be implemented
  • (B) providing a confirmatory junction capacity assessment that follows engineering best practice as per TRLs guidance, and is validated to be accurate by AECOM

 

Finally, we would remind the LHA of their duty to ensure that;

    • The reasoning behind the design and capacity modelling of the junction is “Reasoned, rational, and logical and is based on sound engineering, judgement”
    • The design is sustainable on the evidence;
    • The design avoids foreseeable risks to individuals;
    • The design avoids trapping people into danger

The original junction design and the improved  junction design fail on all of the points above and given that Local Authorities have statutory duties related to road safety, including a duty to;

  • take steps to reduce and prevent accidents,
  • promote road safety,
  • and secure the safe movement of traffic (including pedestrians) on their roads;

It would be a deliberate act of negligence on behalf of the LHA and the Officers involved to knowingly grant technical approval for a design with the above Highway Safety issues.  

Until such time as these documents (A and B above) are available, we recommend OBJECTION to the proposed improvements, but when the developer supplies them and they show that the junction will genuinely be safe in highway safety terms, we should be prepared to support this “improvement”.

UPDATE 21 July

To access the Council Planning Portal go to the website (www.planning.stoke.gov.uk/online-applications) to view the application and track its progress by searching for the reference: 65439.

Initial thoughts

Regrettably, there isn’t enough information provided by the developer to allow us to support or object to the specific proposal at this stage.   There are plenty of technical aspects that will have a direct impact on safety at the junction that we’re working through and will update this site with shortly.   A number of things we’re sure of is that the capacity assessments of the future junction are technically unsound;

  1. asserting the the junction is a roundabout! ( honestly ),
  2. defying the laws of mathematics in one of their key explanations
  3. the Inspector Ahmm… forgetting all of the evidence presented about the right turn being the cause of issues at the junction
  4. the developers new Transport people AECOM, ignoring the complete shambles of the prior technical work for the junction.

We’ll pop more of a reasoned argument online shortly, however something you can do right now if you’d like to make a start is to ask the council;

The Road Safety Audit states that vehicles can not undertake all manoeuvres at the junction efficiently and safely and therefore collisions with other road users may occur and that there is  potential for pedestrian strikes at the crossing point on Meadow Lane leading to injuries.  The safety audit recommendation is;

“It is recommended that the right turn harbourage is extended on Longton Road to ensure vehicles can safely enter without overhanging the opposing running lane. It is also recommended that the eastern kerb line is amended to provide a greater radius for vehicles to exit Meadow Lane in the correct lane and reduce the risk of a vehicle overrunning the pedestrian crossing point.”

However as these recommendations will be difficult to put right for various reasons, we are not surprised that the developers have not put forward a corresponding Designer’s Response.  BUT this is a requirement and the Council have to sign it off.

So, if you write the council asking for them to publish in plenty of time for you to make an informed decision, the designer’s response to the RSA, particularly on 4.2.1 “Basic Design Principles”, as they apply to the approved and proposed layout.

You can register your objection to the scheme until the Designer’s Response is published, and reserve the right to remove your objection if they manage to solve the issue.

 

 

 

 

Amendments to junction layout

Barratt Homes have responded to the one of the safety points for the junction and are proposing a few tweaks to the design.  They widen the turn into Meadow Lane slightly and move the pedestrian refuge to the top of the junction.

As the proposed changes go, they seem sensible at first sight and are certainly better than the nonsense that was approved at the Appeal.

There are issues with some of the ‘facts’ stated by Knights in the application documents and the changes do absolutely nothing to improve overall safety at the junction given that permission for it was granted based on the developer endorsing what they knew was unsafe engineering practice and deliberately misleading the Inspector.

All of the documents are available on the Council Planning site, just search for Meadow Lane!

Screenshot 2020-07-08 at 09.31.04.png

 

We will carefully consider the application and will update this blog with our views in time for residents to support or object to the proposal.