P14/V2873/O

Headline

Valley Park
amended March 2016, August 2016, January 2020, March 2020, May 2020, Dec 2020, May 2021, June 2021

Detail

Land to the West of Great Western Park development Didcot (in the parishes of Harwell and Milton) – Valley Park

Outline planning application for a residential development of up to 4,254 dwellings, mixed-use local centres, primary schools, sports pitches, community and leisure facilities, special needs school, open space and extensive green infrastructure, hard and soft landscaping, attenuation areas, diversions to public rights of way, pedestrian and vehicular access and associated works

(as amended by drawings and information accompanying letter from Agent dated 18 September 2015)

(as amended by drawings and information accompanying letter from Agent dated 10 March 2016)

(as amended by drawings and information accompanying letter from Agent dated 10 March 2016 and on 21 August 2019)

as amended by drawings and information accompanying letter from Agent dated 10 March 2016, 21 August 2019 and 24 January 2020)

as amended by additional information – surface water drainage 30.3.2020

as amended by revised plans 0 parameter and phasing May 2020

as amended by amended plans – parameters & access December 2020

as amended by new plans May 2021 – junction & sustainability

as amended by new plans June 2021 – B4493 junction

P14/V2873/O

Valley Park
amended March 2016, August 2016, January 2020, March 2020, May 2020, Dec 2020, May 2021, June 2021

Status Objects
Major application? Major
Registration Date January 20, 2015
Consultation Start Date January 20, 2015
Consultation End Date January 25, 2021
Target Decision Date February 26, 2021
PC Meeting Date July 13, 2021
PC Comments See Developments page
Original application discussed at meeting 2015-03-10,
Amendments first discussed at meeting 2015-10-06.
Response (objection) agreed at committee meeting 2015-10-27.
Draft of further response discussed at committee meeting 2016-03-29. Subject to corrections approved for submission by due date of 6 April. Objection. RESPONSE TO AMENDED APPLICATION April 2020 (PC meeting 22.4.2020) - No comments. RESPONSE TO AMENDED APPLICATION Feb 2020 - The council reiterates its former objections to the application. Whilst recognising that one of the cycle paths has been widened, the design is still unsafe as it allows parking parallel to the path. With regard to archaeological searches, the council welcomes the proposed arrangements and requests that they are carried out as proposed. Noting the comments of Harwell Parish History Group, the council asks that any finds are suitably catalogued and that the information is provided for the parish. If possible could the finds be displayed in the parish? RESPONSE TO AMENDED APPLICATION Oct 2019 - NB Original comments on this application still apply - please see previous responses. Council objects to this application - Council has concerns about lack of healthcare provision, especially as it now appears that a crisis is looming locally because of an already overloaded healthcare system. Regular appointments in Didcot surgeries are currently running at a 5 week waiting period and, with doubts over the deliverability of a sufficient capacity site on GWP, it would be prudent to assign land in Valley Park in the event it is needed for this purpose. The amended design and access (DAS) statement raises serious concerns. The original approved road layout included segregated cycle tracks along the main route through Valley Park and this was actually one of the better features of this development. These plans have been dropped in this proposal in favour of throwing cyclists onto the main road with no protection. The developers claim a 20mph limit is sufficient but without sufficient engineering or enforcement this limit will be routinely exceeded, particularly on the main road through the site. This is already demonstrated in GWP where, despite bends and chicanes, the 20mph limit is widely ignored. This approach also contravenes the OCC cycling design standards which is clear that on Spine or Primary distributor roads, a minimum of stepped tracks are to be provided if the road serves more than 500 homes. This applies regardless of the speed limit, including 20mph and is due to the traffic volume expected. From the OCC cycling design standards, 2017. "2.2.6 Along such roads, sometimes referred to as spine roads, the minimum provisions for cycle users are stepped cycle tracks (sometimes called hybrid cycle lanes, terraced or similar) on each side of the road. This applies to any new road serving a new development where it connects together two existing roads and serves a development of greater than 500 houses. This also applies to smaller sites where these will ultimately form a larger overall development meeting these criteria." Table 1. also makes clear that stepped tracks would be the minimum expected provision for this type of road. Design of cycle paths/lanes does not adhere to the Walking & Cycling Design Guide – the design of the cycle paths/lanes should revert to original designs to give maximum protection to cyclists. Cycle paths should also be cohesive with neighbouring developments. Another major concern are the illustrative road layouts. B1-C, B2, C-D and A-B2. These appear to show cycle lanes/tracks in the door zone of car parking and is completely unacceptable. Either relocate the cycle tracks to the other side of the verge, remove the parking or widen the cycle tracks to allow safe space to pass parked cars. Where bus stops cross the cycle path, bus stop bypasses should be used to prevent buses and cyclists crossing paths. C-D has cycle tracks widths below the minimum specified in the cycling standards, it is completely unacceptable that on a blank canvas development anything narrower than the recommended width be provided. There are no on carriageway cycle tracks in this masterplan that meet the recommended width of 1.8m. Council has serious concerns about the design of the roundabout at Harwell Link Road as shown in the amended DAS. The construction of this roundabout severed the relatively easy pedestrian/cyclist route to/from Didcot, a section that is a key part of the major cyclist commuting route serving the Village, Harwell Campus and local schools. It is also popular with mobility scooter users going to/from GWP and Didcot. While traffic levels are low, the informal crossings on this roundabout are manageable. At busier periods however it can be harder to cross, especially for those who require a bit more time. The alternative that has been provided, a bridleway and signalised crossing, is so inconvenient that is is rarely used. The new plans include a 5 arm roundabout design that again directly contravenes the cycling design standards (3.3.5) with tangential design on every arm. This roundabout is designed for speed and, with the higher volume of traffic expected from Valley Park, this will make informal crossings completely unsuitable, provision of zebra crossings on the slower speed arms (all arms except the link road) would improve this design.. The current design completely ignore the needs of non-motorised users. There are no safe and convenient cycle paths/bridle paths, no pedestrian crossings on the Link Road arm of the roundabout, and turning angles are too shallow to slow traffic enough to allow safe passage for cyclists and pedestrians. Response to amended application June 2020 - Objection - reiterate previous objections. Response to amended application January 2021 - The council objects to the application, supports the comments from HarBUG & Harwell Campus employees and asks that the following comments are taken into consideration by planners: 1. Latest proposal for roundabout on Didcot Road: As Harbug says in its recent submission: The incorrect design standard has been used for the design. The roundabout has been designed to conform to the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB). DMRB is the Highways England standard for the design of motorways and trunk roads. None of the roads connecting to the roundabout are trunk roads and the design of the roundabout should reflect that other modes of travel will be using the junction, not just motorised vehicles. The document CD 116 from Highways England covers the “Geometric design of roundabouts”. It says in section 2.3 that where the speed limit is less than 40mph the compact design should be used, unless the traffic volume is greater than 12,000 AADT – Annual average daily traffic. The choice of the ‘normal’ design isn’t justified in the proposal by reference to likely traffic figures. But CD 116 goes on to say that the Compact design: “can be more suitable where there is a need to accommodate at-grade crossings for pedestrians or cyclists” and “Non-flared entries / exits of a compact roundabout give more flexibility for the inclusion of pedestrian crossings …” The document gives these layouts: A previous plan for the proposed roundabout, which is very similar as regards the roads to the current proposal, supposedly tabulated the entry radius for vehicles entering the junction: The latest plan is this, to which has been added curves of varying radii: It is quite clear that the radii at best apply to vehicles taking the next exit from where they entered. In the case of the Northern Site road, the radius for taking the Didcot exit is more than 50 metres, and the entry radius from the north is for such a short distance as to be meaningless. This is obvious from the way there is a ‘flat’ section of kerb, as indicated. For all the marking of 2 lanes, they have very little impact on driver speeds as it is not practical to be alongside another vehicle on the roundabout. The flared entries and exits should be redesigned so that there are no two-lane sections on the same carriageway, and the centre lines should be removed from the road surface of the roundabout to discourage excessive speed and to assist pedestrians who in the present design will be discouraged from walking between Harwell & Didcot. Extra formal crossing points should be available on each arm of the roundabout, in addition to the crossings already shown. The dog-leg section shown in the plan above should be redesigned on the western approach of the bridleway. 2. Footpaths & bridleways Footpaths should have a 3 metre width along their full length. There should be a dedicated footpath along the B4493 (or safe alternative route) to ensure safe pedestrian access to schools. This could include an east-west link north of Zulu Farm. Cow Lane should remain as a bridleway but should be resurfaced suitably (at present it is broken stone, not suitable for horses). The surface of The Driftway also needs to be improved. Plans (Document D Planning in Access documents) do not show the steep bank at the proposed Pegasus crossing on the eastern side of Harwell Link Road near The Driftway. There should be a formal crossing where the bridleway meets the new access road. The bridleway access on the Harwell side of the roundabout needs to be defined. 3. Link Road junction with access road Are there plans to make the exit onto the Link Road left turn only? Have existing problems at Hagbourne Hill been taken into consideration? This section is already busy and traffic backs up frequently. 4. Design & Access Statement Plans of proposed car and bus parking bays show car parking bays as too narrow for cyclists to pass safely – the bays are not wide enough to allow a car door to open within the bay. 5. Allotments Adequate screening/noise alleviation for the main allotments site on the grounds of noise from the A34 should be provided. The symbol on the plan says the site is ‘poor semi-improved neutral grassland’ which is not accurate. It is a spoil heap from the A34 construction. The site should be assessed for suitability for allotments and levelled or the bank flattened out. Some plans of this triangle show the original OS contours, some show none, and some show the 1-metre survey: Below is a cross-section A-B, note different scales for vertical and horizontal There is no road access for vehicles so this should be addressed. The allotments site should be finished before all housing is occupied. 6. General comments Roads in the development should be redesigned where necessary to allow use of speed monitoring devices & mitigation should be in place to reduce traffic speeds. The proposed retail, health, dental and other amenities appear insufficient for such a large development. Existing facilities in Didcot are already overstretched, with facilities within Great Western Park not preventing traffic from that development to travel into Didcot for shops and healthcare. Buildings should be constructed beyond current minimum legislation on sustainability, eg solar panelling, charging points for electric vehicles, alternatives to gas boilers and use of sustainable building materials should be standard (or provision for easy installation of such items), rather than adhering to current guidelines on insulation etc, to abide by the Climate Emergency. The council welcomes the green strips due to be preserved by the water course (as identified on page 31 of the Design & Access Statement). RESPONSE - AMENDED PLANS May 2021; Council objects to the new layout - see response below. Harwell Parish Council response to planning application P14/V2873/O Valley Park, amendment May 2021 Application P14/V2873/O was deferred for 2 main reasons at the last VWHDC planning committee, to allow comment from the NHS CCG regarding healthcare provision, and to allow further consideration of the B4493 southern roundabout and improvement of the proposed non-motorised user (NMU) provision. The parish council still has two major concerns regarding NMU provision around the southern roundabout. We welcome the provision of formal crossings close to each arm of the roundabout and this mainly addresses our previous concerns regarding pedestrian amenity. Cyclist provision and roundabout scale • Severe disruption in commuter cyclist amenity due to the multiple stop/start actions required to navigate the roundabout. • The discouraging effect of such a large and busy roundabout on children cycling to/from schools in Didcot and GWP. • Consider adding pedestrian/cycle/equestrian links at the A417 end of the Link Road Equestrian route from Harwell to the Driftway • Route for horse riders to and from Harwell village (see further comments below) • Has the British Horse Society been consulted on the proposals? The applicant has provided a technical report from Brookbanks that addresses some of our previous concerns, but that also sadly does not mention the strategic nature of the EW route as part of the Science Vale Cycling Network and an important link between Didcot Garden Town and Harwell Village, and on to Harwell Campus and Wantage. The applicant also hosted a conference call with local stakeholders & councillors to present the changes and allow discussion. This was very useful, and we welcome this approach by the applicant. We would appreciate this approach to continue through the reserved matters stage of the planning process. The applicant has improved the design of the roundabout in two important aspects: The applicant has proposed a ‘green wave’ technological solution to the commuting cyclist amenity issue. This would detect approaching cyclists, either via speed or a tag, and prepare a crossing trigger on approach to allow continuous flow. OCC confirmed they were supportive of this approach, although this would be a pilot scheme for the technology and that does carry a risk to provision. Were this scheme to work it would address the concerns adequately regarding commuting cyclist delay. Requirement for this should be a condition of planning, both for installation and ongoing maintainance. Our remaining concern regarding cyclist provision is that of the discouraging effect of the scale of the roundabout on schoolchildren (and their parents) and less confident cyclists who currently cycle to schools and facilities in GWP and Didcot. Removing traffic from the school run is an important aspect of reducing congestion and meeting emission targets and planning policy is clear that active travel should be greatly promoted. We consider that this remaining concern can be adequately addressed by provision of a high quality, sealed-surface alternative route via Cow Lane, across the applicant’s site and along the GWP perimeter track. This would lead almost directly to the Wantage Rd stepped cycle lane being constructed at the moment and provide a continuous, safer, although longer, route into the centre of Didcot and the schools along the way. We would ask that the following be made a condition of planning, to be provided as soon as possible to construction start: S278 agreement for funds to cover resurfacing and drainage improvement of Cow Lane, from the junction with Townsend in Harwell to tie into the applicant’s site (as shown in pink on the attached map). Provision across the applicant’s site of a sealed surface route that meets the OCC and LTN1/20 recommended standards for width (rather than the minimum) that connects Cow Lane to the GWP edge of the development (as shown in green on the attached map). As direct a route as possible is preferred (indicated with ? on the map). S278 agreement for funds to cover a short connection to the GWP perimeter track and upgrading of the perimeter track (or parallel provision along this route) to a sealed surface suitable for 4-season use. This should run to the tarmac surface outside the UTC (as shown in pink on the attached map). Reasons: A 4-season cycle route requires a sealed, smooth surface to encourage active travel. Suitable choices would be tarmac, a resin bound substrate or a surface like Flexipave that has been used on the Kelaart Field track on the other side of the A4130. The current surface of Cow Lane is badly potholed from farm traffic that will largely cease with this development. In addition, there are drainage issues towards the northern end by the A34 bridge. The GWP perimeter track surface is poor when wet, prone to water pooling and soft underfoot. The current surface would not be suitable for use over wetter periods. Although this route is significantly longer and would not be used by confident commuter cyclists for this reason, it does remove both the southern access roundabout and also the Blenheim Hill section of the Harwell to Didcot route. This is a busy narrow section with steep gradients and is generally unpleasant to cycle on at peak periods. The provision of formal crossings on all arms of the roundabout allows safe access from Harwell Village to the Driftway via the southern edge for equestrian users. These crossings also allow pedestrians to navigate the roundabout directly, rather than being sent up and around. They are close to the roundabout for minimal detour. We have concerns over pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians being crammed onto the shared pavement. The proposed equestrian route could be improved around the southern arm of the roundabout by including a new bridleway section on land just to the south west of the roundabout. This would run directly from crossing to crossing and cut the corner. This section is relatively flat – there is no embankment as stated in the accompanying documents (eg the original and revised layouts). A photo of the section is shown below. A suitable surface for equestrian use should be provided. RESPONSE TO AMENDED APPLICATION July 2021 - Harwell Parish Council wishes to reiterate previous objection and comments to this application and would like to ask that serious consideration is given to provision of land for a suitably-sized medical centre
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