Focus on Transport

MEETING ON THE LOCAL PLAN:  4 MARCH 2015

Summary of comments by Geoff Meaden: Transport Aspects of the Canterbury District Draft Local Plan

In general the Canterbury Society very much welcomes significant portions of the Transport intentions of the Local Plan, i.e. the strong emphasis placed on transport sustainability through the prioritising of walking, cycling and the use of public transport. If these actions can be instigated and accepted then they have the potential to significantly ease traffic congestion and air pollution – two of the major factors that the Local Plan needs to address.

Our main concerns however, are (a) that the Council has completely failed to carry out suitable traffic modelling, and (b) the proposed locations of the major strategic developments will do nothing to reduce traffic congestion in the District. A brief word about each of these.

Traffic modelling can be a sophisticated means whereby locations for new developments are tested in order that chosen locations are selected where traffic congestion and air pollution are best avoided. Because of the way that KCC and CCC have undertaken their modelling, the Council has no idea of where these optimum development locations are. The first batch of the so-called VISUM traffic modelling published results that did not match up to the objective data collected, with the company involved then being replaced, and the second batch of modelling was carried out so late that the new consultants did not have time to model for developments in alternative locations – they only modelled the impacts of the Council’s proposed development location sites. This modelling showed that there would be severe repercussions for traffic in many parts of the District if the Local Plan goes ahead.

Regarding the proposed strategic development locations, the Council overlooked the fact that nearly all of these developments are oriented along a narrow corridor stretching from S.E Canterbury, via Sturry, Broad Oak, Herne, Strode Farm, Herne Bay and eventually to Hillborough, with Greenhill and Hersden feeding into this corridor. Imagine the impact that an extra 9,000 houses will have on the A291 Herne Bay to Sturry road that runs through the corridor. While a new Sturry by-pass may partially alleviate hold-ups at the Sturry level crossing, imagine the congestion that will ensue on all roads coming into Canterbury from the East and South.

Proper traffic modelling, which compares the impact of a range of different development scenarios, would have undoubtedly shown that the use of many smaller dispersed development sites would have done far more to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution in the District than will the current development Plans. We are asking that Local Plan is withdrawn until adequate traffic modelling is undertaken.

Comments by Glen Bowman – whose pelvis was fractured in two places when he was knocked off his bike on the Wincheap roundabout.

What happened to me has happened to many others, both cyclists and drivers, and living quite near the roundabout we are used to hearing actual and near collisions between motor vehicles (cycles tend to get run down more quietly). The roundabout, as more than 30 correspondents on Streetscene noted when I raised the issue, is totally unfit for purpose with current traffic loads. Throughout the day it bungs up traffic on Pin Hill and Rheims Way because the choke point of the Wincheap egress (into the A28) leads to cars and lorries blocking both lanes of the roundabout. Egress from Castle Street is dangerous and tense throughout the day, and as soon as people begin to leave town after work Castle Street freezes as far as St. Mary’s Street.

The Local Plan should have taken on this long-recognised problem, especially a plan proposing a massive increase of residential building which will add substantially to the traffic on this roundabout and on Canterbury roads in general.

Instead what we get is a proposal to open an exit from the Dover bound A2 onto Wincheap that will add to the traffic along that road, traffic already augmented by the recent exit from Wincheap onto the London bound carriage way of the A2. The plan recognises that this will put a strain on Wincheap and therefore proposes to make Wincheap one way with the return route coming through the Wincheap Industrial Estate. This would allow Wincheap to operate as a one way two lane road up unto the A2 crossing.  Hence we will see two lanes coming out of the roundabout feeding into one lane under the bridge after which drivers and cyclists encounter two lanes of traffic coming out of Simmonds Road and feeding into the one lane under the bridge. If we think the roundabout is impossible and dangerous now, the local plan will make things much worse.

In addition there are problems of pollution and congestion generated by the new development proposed for south Canterbury.  Building 4000 new houses will add substantially to the congestion and pollution along the Ring Road and at the Wincheap roundabout.

In summary

  •  We welcome the focus in the Plan on walking, cycling and public transport
  • However, the Plan is based on inadequate modelling of traffic flows; it should be withdrawn till adequate modelling takes place
  • The proposed development will exacerbate current congestion and air pollution, especially along the Ring Road and major roundabouts
  • With a major employer (University of Kent) and key transport hub (Canterbury West station) in the north of the city it cannot be sensible to locate the major new development in the south.

Click to download a copy: Local Plan – transport comments by Geoff Meaden

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