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Cala Homes and Car Parking in Holwell Road

posted 18 Sep 2019, 00:49 by Pirton Parish Clerk
The following is the text of a letter sent by the Parish Council to various addressees objecting to the proposed discharge of Condition 8 by Cala Homes.

S. Dicocco

Planning Officer

North Hertfordshire District Council                                 16 September 2019

 Dear Mr Dicocco,

 RE: 19/02124/DOC Condition 8 Cala Homes Pirton – Parking Holwell Road

 At the meeting of the Parish Council on the 12 September the Parish Council resolved to OBJECT to the discharge of Condition 8, the subject of the above planning application.

The Parish Council had a discussion with residents of Pirton, and in particular with the residents of Holwell Road Pirton. Our objections fall under three headings, Safety, Design and Character, and Resident’s rights.

 Safety

 Cala and HCC Highways appear to think that the safety of Holwell Road, particularly for pedestrians, will be improved if all of the cars parked outside of No’s 2 to 24 Holwell Road are removed. We absolutely reject this notion. At the moment, the parking of vehicles there acts as a natural mechanism for slowing the traffic in both directions. Without some natural barrier, vehicles will pick up speed in both directions, but particularly from the Holwell direction as they round the bend and see a virtually straight road in front of them. It will be very difficult for residents of the cottages to step out of their front doors into the road if vehicles are travelling at 30mph (or more). Indeed, it will be very difficult for them to even put their heads out of the door to check for traffic without the risk of injury from a passing vehicle.

 Several of the cottages have a small front doorstep sticking out into the road. There is a genuine concern that these will not be registered by drivers, and that if, in order to avoid an oncoming vehicle, a car or lorry pulls sharply towards the cottages, the probability of striking such a step will of itself cause an accident, which may include damage to not merely to vehicle or step, but to the cottage itself. We all know that this short stretch of road has to be walked with care, as do many of the roads in Pirton. However, we are not aware of any, let alone any significant personal injury accidents along this stretch in the last 20 years. This would rather evidence our point, that the existence of parked car acts as a safety feature, instilling a sense of care in both drivers and pedestrians.

 HCC Highways last week sought our view on creating a pedestrian /cycle path, bounded by a solid white line outside of the cottages. We are not in favour of this. It will give a false sense of security to pedestrians and cyclists, creates a hazard for those leaving their houses, while failing to curb speeding by vehicles; indeed, as it would have the effect of narrowing the road, without providing a visual “clue” for drivers to slow down.

 Design and Character

 You are aware that Pirton has a Neighbourhood Development Plan and a Character Assessment which supports the Plan. The visual character of Pirton is important to its sense of self, and of its place in the countryside. Pirton has no double yellow lines; except outside of the primary school it has no white lines. Putting double yellow lines along Holwell Road, or even solid white lines, is completely out of character and contrary to the spirit of the Neighbourhood Plan. Many of our roads do not have pavements; Royal Oak Lane, for example, the next road to Holwell Road. This is a village, and those who move here, we assume, welcome these rural touches.

 Not only are yellow/white/both lines in the road completely out of character for Pirton as a whole, the effect, combined with the plethora of signage and standard lamp posts at Holwell Turn itself, will be to turn what was a gentle transformation from countryside to village into a harsh urban scene. This is exactly what the Parish Council, the Community and indeed the NHDC Planning Committee sought to avoid when considering the Cala planning application in 2016.

 Residents’ rights

 We have to say that we are deeply disturbed by the suggestion of removing the right of residents to park outside of their own properties, without consultation or consideration of the difficulties this will cause to residents, their visitors, and for delivery vans, service vehicles etc. As a Parish Council, our attention was drawn to this application by a resident who happened to come across it. We had not been consulted. The residents most affected had not been consulted, even though the removal of their right to park will adversely impact on their lives, and of course, on the value of their properties.

 It is not enough to offer one car parking space some considerable walk from their home; many residents have two vehicles. The terms of the “offer” are also of great concern; residents will have to prove their identity to a third- party commercial company, as well as the ownership of their vehicles, that the vehicle is taxed etc. And woe betide that they should break any rule; suffer secret surveillance (which is not done in this village) and any infringement will lead to a fine, or clamping. And this when hitherto they could park for free outside of their own homes.

 The car park offer is not the complete answer in any event. As one gentleman put it “when I come home with the shopping and my two year old toddler, what do I do? Leave the toddler in the car while I walk round with the shopping, or leave the shopping in the car, take the toddler home first, leave him in the house and then go back for the shopping? “  When Cala was making its application for Planning Permission, its agents discussed with us the offer of a car park space on their development for each of 2-24 Holwell Road. There was no suggestion that this was dependant on no parking outside of their homes, nor was it suggested that the residents in taking up a car parking space would not be able to park anywhere else within the development. In fact, it is the clear recollection of many of us that the offer was made as a bit of a “sweetener”, and that each house would have gifted to it the ownership of a parking space. The contents of the Ardent report are a long way from that original concept.

 Other Matters

 It would seem that the residents of Holwell Road are to be treated worse than residents of the Cala development. They are being offered only 1 car parking space, with no rights over it. By contrast, residents of the Cala development will get a minimum of two spaces which they will own, or, in the case of rented affordable housing will run with the tenancy, together with the ability of their visitors, delivery vehicles etc to park outside of their homes or elsewhere on the development. This detriment to the residents of Holwell Road simply cannot be right.

 Hertfordshire Highways has asked us whether “restricted parking” i.e. night-time only, would be acceptable, so as to leave “the road” clear for children accessing the school or buses. If this is the real concern of Highways, Cala and NHDC, it seems to us that a much less controversial solution is to hand, rather than banning parking on Holwell Road and sending children out into a more unsafe environment. The development has footpath access to Hambridge Way, which, at the designated “emergency access” exits on to a part of the Hambridge Way that is officially designated “a road” although no traffic uses it beyond the turn for Elm Tree Close and even then it is very lightly trafficked. There is lighting, albeit limited but no more limited than that along Royal Oak Lane which for most of its length has no pavement; and there are houses along this part of Hambridge Way.

 Residents of the development will surely use this access to reach the village directly and safely. The nearest bus stop for Hitchin is at the bottom of Royal Oak Lane; for residents nearer Hambridge Way it may be the High Street. Some school buses stop outside the Old Bakery in Holwell Road. We invite Cala and Highways and NHDC to enter into discussion with the bus companies to include a stop either at the entrance to the development or within the development to encourage and improve use of the buses, something that Cala’s transport strategy seeks to achieve.

 The Pirton Parish Council would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with you, Hertfordshire Highways and Cala Homes so a resolution to these issues can be speedily achieved.

 

Yours sincerely

 pp Jill Rogers

Chair Pirton Parish Council

 

Copied to:

 Simon Ellis , Development and Conservation Manager

Bim Afolami MP

District Councillors David Barnard, Clare Strong, Faye Frost

Mark Youngman Herts CC Highways

Mike Lake DLA Town Planning

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