Failures of Wrexham CBC Highways Dept.

Background To This Article

Background: Many documents have been provided to the WCBC Highways Officer highlighting concerns and evidence to support the objections that this section of footway on Holt Road cannot be built out to avoid discrimination against persons with disabilities and protected characteristics.

It is incredible that a Highways Officer having been advised by the Equality Commission of the WCBC Potential breach of the Equality Act on two occasions and more latterly receiving a copy of Castle Green Agents Critical Road Safety Audit that he recommends breaching WCBC Policy GDP1(d), the Manual for Streets and the Equality Act 2010.

All this in addition to the issues regarding access to areas outside the Applicant’s red line plan over which he has no jurisdiction to recommend or approve. Despite its many failings the Officer has given approval for this defective footway.

This article refers to the Reserved Matters Planning Applications P/2021/0110 & P/2021/0111 for Residential Development of Two Parcels of Land Located North & South of Lane Farm Rossett Road Rossett Wrexham LL12 0DS. Outline Planning permission was given on appeal to P/2018/0560. There are 16 Conditions (Reserved Matters) placed on this planning permission by the Welsh Government Inspector and the Minister.

Unbelievable Recommendation

Subsequent to our previous article on the Defective Pedestrian Footway we now note that the WCBC Highways Officer has submitted his approval in the Memorandum ET/DC/MM/P/2021/0111 dated the 9th July 2021 and recommended the Discharge of Conditions 8, 9, 10 and 14 which is displayed on the planning portal under P/2021/0110 and P/2021/0111. His earlier memo of the 14th May 2021 is also displayed on the portal.

Below………. Typical Traffic on Holt Road

Additional Safety Risks

As far as the footway proposals south of Holt Road are concerned, these fail to meet the required standards of WCBC Policy GDP1(d) or the mandatory Standards of the Manual for Streets. Failure to meet the required standards contravenes the Outline Planning Approval Granted by the WG Minister. WCBC has already been warned by the Equality Commission of its Duty of Care under the Equality Act 2010 on the grounds of discrimination against persons with protected characteristics.

The recent disclosure by the Applicant of a Road Safety Audit commissioned by Edison entitled “Proposed Highways Works, Rossett Road, Wrexham Stage 1/2 – Road safety Audit May 2021” (copy on planning portal) shows that the footway proposals are considered unsatisfactory on several aspects and are predicted to create additional accident risks to the users of the planned footway south of Holt Road. This failure to meet the required mandatory standards and to produce a safe scheme to comply with UDP Policies means that Conditions 8.3 and 9.3 must not be discharged.

At the Wrexham LDP examination (hearing statement, Matter 6) Savills presented an independent report by Travis Baker on an assessment of Rossett Road Safety, they concluded – “Based on information currently available, it is clear that the proposals will increase safety concerns by introducing further sub-standard design features for the pedestrian route and an objection should be maintained on grounds of pedestrian safety. It is our view that a number of critical matters relating to the site access remain outside of the landowner’s control, and therefore planning permission should not be granted unless the local authority can be certain these issues are capable of being resolved.” We now know that these issues are still far from being resolved.

No Access to Privately Owned Land

Condition 9.2 relating to the Southern site cannot be arbitrarily discharged as the requirement to provide a footpath link to Trevalyn Way cannot be achieved. The layout provided by Castle Green Homes does not accord with the Determined Plan Access point as two footway links are shown not one as indicated in the approved location, and neither access is in the right place.

In addition, the land adjacent to the Castle Green Development boundary is privately owned and under the control of the Rossett Community Council and the local residents on Trevalyn Way. No right of access will be allowed across this privately owned and controlled land all of which is outside the boundary of the determined red line plan so that a scheme showing access to Trevalyn Way cannot be delivered or approved by the Planning Case Officer, as it would be ultra vires (beyond one’s legal power or authority).

Footway Links and Cycleways Not Deliverable

On the Northern Parcel site the footway link shown outside No 1 Trevalyn Hall View cannot be arbitrarily agreed as the portion of land over which the link is shown is not in the ownership of the Developer such that Condition 8.2 cannot be discharged. Inquiries of the WCBC Housing and Assets Department have indicated that no consent has been given by WCBC to the entry points shown into Trevalyn Hall View, and Darland View.

In addition, no consent has been given by the private residents of these two Estates to the imposition of cycleways through their estates and furthermore WCBC have not legally reserved any rights for third parties such as Castle Green Homes to construct footways and cycleways so that condition 8.2 cannot be discharged.

Travel Plans Not Current

Referring to the Travel Plan Condition 14 this cannot be discharged as the layout plans do not accord with the determined plans and the proposals regarding cycleways and footway links cannot be delivered so that recommendation to discharge the Travel Plan is certainly premature. In the event that the layout plans are changed to accord with the Determined Plans on the Planning Consent, then the Page 2 of 3 Travel Plans will require amendment to accord with the access limitations onto privately owned or WCBC owned land.

The Travel Plans being offered by Castle Green Homes rely upon the accesses and footways being deliverable and providing connectivity to the existing housing Estates on Trevalyn Hall View and Darland View, with access being available through Trevalyn Way to Harwoods Lane and absolute reliance on the footway south of Holt Road being altered.

Since the last objection sent to WCBC regarding this developments footways and accesses, we have heard from the Equality Commission Legal Officer that they are currently looking into the issues we have raised and have requested copies of any further information updates we have. The Equality Commission (EC) do not reveal the confidential details of their work but we hope that WCBC start to take notice of the earlier representations made by (EC) on the risks associated with the potential breach of WCBC Duty of Care under the Equality Act 2010 to persons with protected characteristics.

The discharge of the Travel Plan Condition 14, with the layout and scale uncertainties still unresolved, should not be contemplated until all access and footway links are resolved. Similarly, the Construction Method Statement Requirements cannot be discharged until the layout of properties has been determined as there may need to be considerable amendment to the text of the same.

Non-Compliance with Mandatory Standards

Correspondence has been sent to the WCBC Highways Officer in which we detailed our concerns regarding the unsafe footway on the South of Holt Road, together with the guidance received from WG Ministers staff regarding the flexibility to be afforded to designers but the overall requirement to comply with mandatory standards.

It is inconceivable that a Highways Officer who comments that the footway scheme “is not in line with best practice” can actually go on record authorising the discharge of a condition that he knows to be wrong, offending both local and national policies. We are so concerned about the safety issues that the Highways Officer is recommending to flout, we can advise that in the event that the Planning Case Officer decides the matter without placing this whole matter before the Planning Committee for their consideration we will look to instigate a Judicial Review into the way the case has been decided. Our Barrister has advised that the actions taken to date by the Highways Officer have provided adequate grounds for a Judicial Review on their own notwithstanding the contested Reserved Matters decisions or discharge of Conditions being planned by the Case Officer on layout, scale, flooding and access.

Road Safety Audit

Paragraph 1.11 of the Road Safety Audit of May 2021 states that the road safety audit team have reported “only on the road safety implications of the scheme as presented and has not examined or verified the compliance of the design to any other criteria,” At 1.12 they indicate that “they understand that there are no departures from standard within the design of the scheme” which does not accord with the truth or with the observations of the Highways Officer who acknowledges this footway is “not in line with best practice“.

The Road Safety Audit confirms the fact that this footway is likely to increase the risk of vehicular/pedestrian collisions particularly with persons having protected characteristics, and the response from Edison’s (formerly Croft) as Designer is stating that the WCBC have agreed to this as the only justification of this safety risk.

Parking Provision – Double Standards

The Highways Officer Memoranda Ref ET/DC/MM/P/2021/0110 dated 14th May 2021 and 9th July 2021 gives arbitrary acceptance of the Parking Standards. It has already been shown under a separate objection that the parking provisions on the proposed Castle Green Development are some 73 spaces short (20%) when compared with WCBC LPG16.

The Highways Officer has dual standards being applied in Rossett. Recently on another development in Rossett the Highways Officer Memorandum Ref ET/DC/PP/P/2021/0487 comments “Parking & Turning Provision” “I would recommend that parking provision at the site complies with LPGN 16 maximum requirements”. Here we have an application for 3 dwellings and the maximum requirements of LPG16 are being enforced whereas for 132 dwellings where there is an evident shortfall in parking provision associated with limitations flagged up by the swept path analysis and other turning matters that the standards are being blatantly ignored.

It would appear that there is one set of rules being applied by the Highways Officer to a small development and another lax set being applied to a large land owner/developer. This disparity therefore gives rise to the further objection that WCBC new development parking standards are not being properly or fairly applied in order just to favour this large developer’s unsatisfactory estate plans and deficient vehicle parking provisions.

Summary of Failures

The site layouts do not accord with the approved access plan referred to in Condition 5 of the Minister’s Consent of the 14th February 2020 and numbered Pinc-100-37-SMPA-01 and accordingly there should be no discharge of any conditions until a scheme which does accord with the Consent obtained has been provided.

It is inconceivable that any Highways Officer or Planning Officer acting within his professional duties would agree to the discharge of conditions which he has been told and shown offends the Law and good practice particularly where that Officer knows that this development is opposed by the Community affected, in this case Rossett.

For conditions 8, 9 and 10 which the Highways Officer has indicated that “he is content ….may be discharged” they all require that “Development shall not commence ……until a scheme detailing the following has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority”

It has been shown in correspondence that the Highways Officer has ignored salient points and warnings from the Equalities Commission which have been ratified by Edison’s Road Safety Audit.

The stated width of the footway on the southern side of Holt Road referred to in paragraph 8.3 and 9.3 and embodied in the Statement of Common Ground signed by Officers after the refusal of the planning permission by the Planning Committee of the 7th January 2019 is not capable of delivery.

To consent to reserved matters or to discharge any conditions in such circumstances shows a blatant disregard for the Law and for this Community, when there are so many errors in the same and where necessary third-party consents have not been obtained.

The actions of the Highways Officer, to date, now provide sufficient evidence to seek a Judicial Review of the whole application should unrestricted approval be given to this development. The whole matter pursuant to P/2018/0560 should be refused under the Planning Case Officers delegated powers or failing that the whole application both Reserved Matters and Discharge of Conditions should be placed before the Planning Committee for determination.

We place this here as Wrexham Council hide all objection documents from the public, which means no residents can see what other residents are objecting about and how many objections that are being presented, also there is no means to check that your objection has actually been read and placed on file.