School - Transport Assessment

This is Flintshire's comments on traffic impact – This has been considered a very sensitive issue from the outset and one of the foremost concerns for many local residents. Following early engagement with Flintshire Council’s Planning and Highways departments the team were notified that a ‘Transport Statement’ was the only requirement for this development, however in response to the concerns raised by consultees we have agreed to commission an independent consultant (Mott Macdonald) to carry out a full ‘Traffic Impact Assessment’. 

The results of the assessment have been shared by Flintshire County Council - these are the results from the consultant, Mott Macdonald, not Flintshire County Council's view or response to the report.

The report is 349 pages long, including appendices, so to save everyone going through it, we have extracted the key conclusions here (extracts from the document are in italics). You can view the full report online here.

Policies

Welsh Government guidance is to encourage 'active travel' - walking and cycling.

 2.2.3 The document states that local authorities should ensure that new developments provide lower levels of parking than have generally been achieved in the past – with minimum parking standards are no longer appropriate. Local authorities should develop an integrated strategy on parking to support the overall transport and locational policies of the development plan.

2.5.4 WAG wishes to promote the widespread adoption of travel plans by schools and other significant travel- generating uses, as part of a package of measures identified to achieve the ‘Transport Implementation Strategy’ (TIS)  objectives. With respect to schools, these objectives are:

●  the creation or improvement of safe cycling and walking routes;
●  restricting car access around schools;
●  providing adequate cycle storage; and
●  creating a framework for future school travel planning activity.

 2.9.3 New developments need to satisfy the following transport requirements. The development should:
●  provide, where appropriate, safe and convenient access for pedestrians, cyclists, persons with disabilities, and vehicles, together with adequate and suitably located parking spaces and servicing/manoeuvring space;
●  not have an unacceptable effect on the highway network as a result of problems arising from traffic generation, and should incorporate traffic calming measures where appropriate;

 2.9.5 In terms of access and traffic management, development proposals will be permitted only if:
●  approach roads to the site are of an adequate standard to accommodate the traffic likely to be generated by the development without compromising public safety, health and amenity; and
●  safe vehicular access can be provided by the developer both to and from the main highway network.

Existing Local Conditions

 3.4.3 All roads within the local area are residential and experience some residential on-street parking along stretches. On-street parking bays are prevalent within the area to provide additional onstreet parking, with bays being present on Corwen Road and Park Crescent. These are not subject to any parking traffic regulation orders restricting their use and are available for any vehicle to use.

A traffic survey was carried out on the 7th September 2017 once the school term had started. The weather was max 18 degrees, dry but cloudy with light winds. Three junctions were reviewed:
●  Rhos Road, Corwen Road / Abbott’s Lane
●  Vounog Hill / Wat’s Road
●  Corwen Road / Vounog Hill, Hawarden Road


Traffic counts and flow were recorded at one location on Corwen Road.

corwen road speed.jpg

The summary is that the volume of traffic on Corwen Road is not considered to be a problem and the three junctions assessed are all within guidelines for layout and will be within acceptable capacity once the school is ready.

Active Travel

active travel routes.jpg

3.5.10 There are no controlled pedestrian crossings in the immediate vicinity of the site, given the localised, residential nature of the surrounding roads (on Abbott’s Lane and Park Crescent) and the short stretches of straight carriageway on these routes meaning high speeds are not possible. Speeds are further slowed by on-street parking. A zebra crossing is however provided on Hawarden Road to the north of the development site, providing a safe place for pedestrians to cross, with Hawarden Road having a higher flows of traffic due to it being a through route.

A new cycle route is planned already:
3.5.11 As a result of the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013, Flintshire County Council are currently undergoing a public consultation process to produce an Active Travel Integrated Network Map for the county. It is envisaged that a cycle route will run through the local centre close to the junction of Hawarden Road and Chester Road, travelling west through Poppy Field Drive and southwards along Maple Way and utilising the footpath that connects to Corwen Road.

3.5.12 This route will then travel westwards along Rhos Road in the direction of Penyffordd rail station. This provides a cycle route that will enable cycling to the proposed development, linking to the local centre and the large residential communities in this area and the adjoining village of Penymyndd. It is our understanding the Flintshire County Council will implement the Active Travel Integrated Network Map in the near future.

Public Transport
 3.6.4 As is discussed later in section 3.7, given the local nature of the proposed development (a facility to serve the local community), the travel survey results showed that public transport does not generally play a significant role in access to/from the current schools, however this may change as a result of future growth in the local area.

Safety
3.7.3 There have been no collisions within the last five years that have occurred in the vicinity of the proposed development site. This indicates that there are no issues with the surrounding highway network from a road safety perspective.

Existing Travel Patterns
he school surveyed parents at both schools and received a 63% response rate.
In summary, 90% of children live within the village. The remainder are from rural areas, Hope, Higher Kinnerton, Mold and elsewhere.

Of these children, 59% travel by car and 36% walk.

3.8.5 A recent research briefing by The National Assembly for Wales suggests in line with the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 20083 , that for primary school pupils, it is acceptable to walk up to 2 miles (3.2km) to school if there is an available route.

3.8.8 The travel survey found that of the 177 pupils covered by the survey results, the number of pupils that were dropped off at both sites was 64,

3.8.9 The number of pupils dropped off was weighted towards single pupils with a 60% share of trips involving one pupil. Respondents dropping off two children was 30%. The number of respondents that dropped off 3 or more children was a share of 10%. Of this proportion, the number of trips that involved taking children other than the respondent’s own represented 3% of the total number of trips.

Committed Developments (planning applications)

Hawarden Road
4.3.2 ...It is concluded that this will result in an imperceptible impact on the local highway network.

Chester Road (Redrow)
4.4.3 ...the traffic impact of the proposed development will have a minimal effect on the operation of the local highway network

Rhos Road (South)
4.5.2 ... negligible increase in vehicles during peak hours, means it is unnecessary to implement any new traffic measures within the local area as part of this development.

Rhos Road (North)
4.6.3 ...this increase in traffic will be imperceptible when considering the daily fluctuations in traffic and has been considered to not have a material impact on the operation or safety of the local highway network.

Development Details

5.2.1 The development is proposed to deliver the following educational provision on the application site:
●  Provision of a 315 (2 Form Entry) Primary School.
●  Provision of a 30-place nursery. (according to FCC website there are 45 nursery places)

5.2.2 The number of staff for the proposed development will be 37.

 5.2.3 As part of the proposed development, there will also be the possibility for school pupil numbers to expand in the future to support growth in the local area, with a possible worst-case scenario of:
●  30 nursery pupils (no change)
●  375 primary pupils (an additional 65)
●  41 staff (an additional 4)

 5.2.6 The school timetable is expected to be structured in the following way:
●  08:05 – 17:50 to cover breakfast and after-school clubs
●  08:45 – 15:15 for core school hours (for those not attending the before / after school clubs).

 5.3.1 ...the vehicle ingress will be provided via the existing Park Crescent access point but will be widened to accommodate coach access and will be for access into the site only. A new egress only junction will be constructed on Park Crescent to the west of the existing access point to let vehicles out of the site.

5.3.2 ...keep clear markings to be remarked around the corner of Park Road / Abbott’s Lane.

 5.3.4 Vehicular access routes from the wider village will continue to be to Park Crescent via either Wat’s Road or from Rhos Road/Corwen Road via Abbott’s Lane, both of which are well connected to the local highway network, and provides an opportunity for vehicle dissipation on the wider network.

Parking

 5.4.1 The existing car park space will be re-utilised and will provide 38 spaces for staff and visitors. There will also be four disabled spaces provided

 5.4.2 There will be 5 further drop off and pick up only spaces, for parents to drop off and collect children.

The report assesses that the worst case scenario is for an additional 162 cars at peak time in addition to the 150 cars now (including teachers), and those 300+ cars will be trying to access 5 drop-off places. 

 5.4.3 There will be a 16-cycle parking and 12 scooter parking stands on the site. A covered and lit central storage area will accommodate 8 bikes (adult or child) and 7 scooters. In addition to this, outside the Reception Classroom there will be stands for 4 bikes and 3 scooters.

Emergency Access

5.5.6 These plans show that there are no issues with access and egress for emergency service vehicles within the site, with the site layout being suitable for accommodating the necessary movements.

5.5.7 Accessibility by emergency service vehicles to/from the site and also the properties in the surrounding streets was raised as a concern during pre-application consultation, with on-street parking making access to some locations potentially difficult.

5.5.8 In accordance with rule 242 of the Highway Code, “You MUST NOT leave your vehicle or trailer in a dangerous position or where it causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road.

5.5.9 Changes to this practice would need to be through behaviour change initiatives instigated by the school.

Impact Assessment

 6.7.11 It is clear that by 2021, the three junctions that have been modelled would experience no issues in relation to capacity and would be able to support the additional growth in traffic that could occur as a result of the proposed development.

6.7.12 The possible increase in vehicle trips on the road network induced by the proposed development would have marginal impact on the junctions modelled, as the junctions are well suited to accommodate any additional demand that may occur. This accounts for a worst-case scenario, in which it is anticipated that actual demand in the future trips from the proposed development, would not reach this maximum level during the AM an PM peaks.

 6.8.1 Whilst the junction capacity work has shown that there are no issues associated with the operation of the three junctions, the models are not able to provide an assessment of the impact of the expected vehicles upon accessibility and parking in the surrounding area, with these vehicles typically waiting and parking on-street around school drop off, and particularly pick up times.

6.8.2 Concerns with regards to accessibility and safe access were raised by local residents at the preapplication consultation events in relation to the number of vehicles which travel through the area and park on the streets, associated with the existing school. The following points cover key elements which have been considered in response to this:

●  Providing more parking spaces at the school would not alleviate the issues experienced around the school at peak periods. It may even encourage more people to drive in the site, causing congestion and delay as vehicles try to navigate the local roads around parked vehicles (which may be associated with residents or the school). This would also likely have an impact upon pedestrian safety and air quality and is not considered a sustainable way to provide development.

●  The site layout provides ‘circulation space’ for vehicles to pull in from the public highway and drop off/pick up within the site before exiting back onto the public highway. This is likely to be most effective at reducing the impact of vehicles waiting and parking in the surrounding area in the morning, with children able to quickly exit the vehicle, as well as them able to arrive over a 15-minute period.

●  In the PM peak by comparison, parents await the children being released from the school, with this occurring at a fixed time meaning parents who arrive early are waiting, and then large numbers of people are trying to leave the area at the same time. It is recognised that whilst the circulation space could provide some alleviation, particularly if appropriately managed, it will not fully address the issue, with many vehicles continuing to park on the highway.

●  Consideration was given to proposing on-street parking restrictions as part of the proposed development, however this is not being considered further because firstly it would be detrimental to some local residents (for example when they have visitors or guests, they would not be able to park on the street either) and would only help address the problem if the restrictions were enforced, which would require the presence of a civil enforcement officer.

Additionally, any parking restrictions would be introduced following the traffic regulation order process which means that if objections were raised (by either local residents or parents), it may mean that the order cannot be provided and implemented, meaning it cannot be relied upon as part of this application.

●  It is expected that measures set out in the TIS (see chapter 7) will work towards reducing overall car use and managing its impact, with the school working with parents to be a more ‘considerate neighbour’ to the surrounding local residents and thereby addressing some of the concerns raised at the pre-application stage. This would include requesting parents to be more considerate in their parking (such as making them aware of requirements to ensure emergency access at all times) and encouraging them to park further away so as to reduce the overall impact (for example using the Red Lion pub).

Transport Implementation Strategy

7.2 Pedestrian crossing
A Pelican crossing close to the existing bus stop on Corwen Road - this will mean the bus stop being moved slightly.

Corwen Road Crossing.jpg

7.3 Extension of ‘School Keep Clear’ markings
School keep clear’ markings to be extended around the corner to protect the area from parking. 

7.4 Refurbishment of speed management markings

 7.4.1 There are several false speed humps in the surrounding area which have faded and are no long as noticeable. These are proposed to be refurbished to make them more visible and to reinforce the importance of a 20mph speed in the area around the school. The condition of the current markings in the vicinity of the school will be reviewed and those which require re-paining will be addressed. The locations to be reviewed are:
●  Abbott’s Lane
●  Park Crescent
●  Corwen Road
●  Rhos Road; and
●  Vounog Hill

Traffic Management During the Build
7.5.2 The TMP will include information such as fixed routings for vehicles to access and egress the village and ultimately the site and details on remote holding locations a couple of miles from the site which are being negotiated with Flintshire County Council so vehicles are not waiting in the residential area around the site and also times of permitted movements (i.e. avoiding school pick-up and drop off times).

Other Traffic Management Proposals
7.6.1 Discussion are on-going with the Red Lion pub to obtain agreement for the use of their private car park to provide an alternative to parking on the highway for school drop of and pick-ups. Once agreement is reached, parents would be encouraged to ‘park and walk’ to the school as an alternative to parking on the public highway.

 7.7.1 Having traffic travelling in one direction around the loop of Wat’s Road, Park Crescent and Abbott’s Lane, would help with reducing vehicle conflict and generally improve access. This would not be enforceable and there would not be a requirement for vehicles to follow this, however it has proved successful in other locations in removing conflict on the highway network by vehicles all travelling the same direction rather than trying to pass each other.

 7.8.1 The school is currently in the process of creating a Travel Plan (TP) which will provide a longterm management strategy for supporting and enabling sustainable travel to and from the school. There will be a requirement to set objectives and targets in the TP and then to monitor progress towards their achievement.

7.8.2 It is recognised that there are many reasons why parents drive to/from the school which may not be able to be addressed or altered on a daily basis, for example travelling onward to work or taking siblings to other educational establishments. There may however be the possibility for travel to change on one or more days of the week to promote sustainable travel and contribute to the reduction of impacts.

 7.8.3 The 2016 Welsh Government document ‘An Active Travel Action Plan for Wales’4sets out some possible ways in which behaviour change can be encouraged:
●  Walk to School Days/Week
●  Walking Bus programmes
●  Junior Road Safety Officers (JRSOs)
●  Parking issues – linked to above, JRSOs have even issued mock “parking tickets” to parents who park dangerously outside schools in some areas to further raise awareness.
 
7.8.4 Another measure could be journey sharing - encouraging journey sharing by parents and staff.


The suggested target reduction in car journeys is 9% leaving over 270 peak journeys by car.

 

Summary & Conclusions

8.1.1 This TA has assessed the impact of the proposed development upon the highway network and has come to the following conclusions.

● The vast majority of pupils to be travelling to/from the schools, based on current information, reside within an acceptable walkable distance of the proposed site.
● There are no highway capacity concerns at the junctions assessed, even with the worst-case assessment approach applied.
● There are no existing road safety concerns in the area, as demonstrated by the personal collision incident data for the last five years, however an increase in pedestrian movements over Corwen Road we recommend will require a facilitated crossing point.
● The provision of additional parking spaces at the school would not alleviate issues associated with parking in the area, and would more likely encourage further parents to drive.
● The implementation of the Travel Plan and wider TIS will support behaviour change to reduce the reliance upon private car use and encourage a greater take up of cycling and walking.

8.1.2 A TIS has been prepared for the proposed development setting out key measures which will be applied to mitigate some of the impacts noted. These include:
● A new signal controlled pelican pedestrian crossing on Corwen Road to support walking to school and connectivity with the residential area located north of the school and retention of the school patrol officer.
● Re-marking of several false speed humps to reinforce the importance of speed management in the vicinity of the school and to raise their prominence.
● The development of a Traffic Management Plan for the management of construction transportation impacts.
● Discussing use of parking facilities in the Red Lion car park to ease pressure on the surrounding residential streets for those who must drive.
● One-way informal routing during peak times to manage flows.
● Developing and implementing a School Travel Plan to support and influence behaviour change and monitoring change in travel choices moving forwards.

Through trying to reduce private car use and encouraging those driving to be more considerate of where they park, impacts associated with the operation of the proposed development can be managed and reduced to a level which does not affect the operation of the highway network, or significantly impact the amenity of local residents.

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