BSCF Comment on technical note relating to unacceptable congestion at Boys High School site

Development Management
East Herts Council
SG13 8EQ
25 May 2020

Dear Sir or Madam

Your ref: 3/20/0151/OUT - Outline planning application for the demolition of existing buildings and all matters reserved apart from vehicular access to and from London Road and to and from Thorley Hill Primary School for the erection of up to 223 dwellings, with associated access, parking, landscaping. | Bishops Stortford High School (BISH6) London Road Bishops Stortford Hertfordshire CM23 3LU.

1. I am writing on behalf of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation to comment on the technical note dated 11 May provided by Pell Frischmann in response to the recommendation by Herts Highways that permission for this application should be refused.

2. Our starting point is para 109 of the National Planning Policy Framework which states

‘Development should only be prevented or refused on highways grounds if there would be an unacceptable impact on highway safety, or the residual cumulative impacts on the road network would be severe.’

3. The technical note confirms our previous understanding of the traffic assessment as set out in our letter of 3 March that as a result of committed developments and this application, the following junctions will be operating well above their theoretical capacity:

London Road/Pig Lane
Thorley Hill/London Road
Hallingbury Road /Crescent Road/London Road
Hockerill cross roads.

4. By analysing the impact of this application on a stand alone basis the technical note claims that the unacceptable congestion that would occur at these locations arises from previously committed developments; and that the additional impact of this application is insignificant in comparison. It therefore argues that permission should not be refused on highways grounds.

5. We take issue with this argument. Firstly, the modelling is, we believe, still defective, in that it does not model the impact of junctions operating over capacity on the congestion the tail backs will cause at preceding junctions. It has not therefore properly modelled the cumulative residual impacts. We highlighted other shortcomings in the modelling in our previous letter which have not been addressed, and do not repeat them here.

6. Secondly, the NPPF does not refer to the significance or otherwise of a particular application – it simply states that if the residual cumulative impact is severe, permission should be refused. While on a standalone basis, the impact of this application might be slight, the residual cumulative impact is severe. Indeed much of that severe impact arises from the plan by TBSHS to move from its present site to Bishop's Stortford South (BSS). Allowing its existing site to be redeveloped would merely compound that severe impact.

7. Finally, Pell Frischmann dismiss the modelling of the impact of the pm school peak simply by claiming that the conventional evening peak is more severe. It is not clear whether this assertion is based on the evidence of traffic counts or whether they have simply relied on the BSS Transport Assessment which has now been shown to be seriously flawed. The experience of local residents is that the school peak is worse, and if the evidence supports that experience then its impact should clearly be modelled.

8. The analysis provided by Pell Frischmann reinforces the argument in our previous letter that, since the planning permission for BSS was granted on the basis of a materially flawed Transport Assessment, a fresh, independent analysis is needed not just of the impact of that, but also of other committed developments on the town’s road network. It does not provide any basis for granting permission for this application.

9. Colin Arnott is writing separately to provide a detailed critique of the technical note, and we would also wish to associate ourselves with his comments. For the avoidance of doubt, our letter of 3 March contains a number of other grounds of objection which, of themselves, provide ample grounds for refusing permission for this application.

Yours faithfully