Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Lorry Roadways pretending to be Paths in our Park

The planning proposal was for a new access gate and bridge. As the Planning Committee report states, it does not cover the design of roadways and safety within the Park.

"10.6 There no longer remains any overt technical/professional objection to the proposal, but the degree of public opposition to the scheme cannot be ignored and appeals to the Council to consider alternative methods of managing access to the park are noted, however the local planning authority ultimately has to decide the proposal placed before it."

The officers' recommendation covers only the access and bridge, not roadways and vehicles in the Park. Yet most public opposition was to opening up the Park to lorries, especially the large lorries.

The Council's promotional brochure talks not of roadways but of "paths… widened to 4m to accommodate larger vehicles", and does not talk of strengthening to carry 40-tonne artics. The actual design for roadway - to avoid damaging tree roots - would build 4m roadways raised by 350-400mm above the present paths, with 2m tapered ramps on either side (1 in 5 slopes).

Few people will feel comfortable with lorries passing that close with no kerbed pavement. Working on 1 metre minimum clearance, cyclists and wheelchairs will divert onto the grassed slope - and wheelchairs will have difficulty in getting back up.

Thus the 4m design is ill-conceived; too narrow to give clearance from 2.5m wide lorries and wide enough to encourage 1.8 metre cars (the majority) to pass by driving on the sloping verge. The whole idea of park users sharing a "path" with lorries should be rejected -
and lorries that are not very occasional or for special events, but 50 to 100 per week. Lorry roadways must be separate from pedestrian paths.

I hope that HLF will raise our concerns with the council and also consider carefully the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust questions about the suitability of a listed park as a venue for more events and an expanding nursery business which relies on articulated lorries. I notice that the council website has no information on the HLF project – or feeder bridge project.

It is quite clear that the present scheme could not accord with what HLF would require for a Grade 1 listed historic landscape.

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