Councillors sitting on South Gloucestershire Council’s (SGC’s) Development Management Committee have refused planning permission for the creation of a new vehicular access point directly off Hatchet Road into the site of the former Co-operative food store near Parkway Station.
The decision was made despite the council’s professional planning officers recommending that the application be approved.
The applicant, Danolly Limited, had withdrawn a previous application for a similar scheme in July 2020 after SGC’s transportation development control department raised an objection grounded on five key concerns.
A revised planning application was submitted in October 2020, accompanied by a new technical report in which the applicant responds to the concerns previously raised by the council’s transport officers.
The technical report includes the results of a formal desktop road safety audit and makes use of data from a traffic survey conducted in February 2017 in connection with the planning application for the Gipsy Patch Lane bridge replacement project.
The report repeats a claim made in the first application that a “lack of direct vehicular access from Hatchet Road” was the primary reason for the Co-op choosing not to extend its lease in January 2020. It also claims that delivery of direct vehicular access from Hatchet Road is “imperative to facilitate the ongoing occupation of the site for retail uses”.
Fears that queuing traffic on Hatchet Road might restrict drivers from being able to make right turn manoeuvres into and out of the site were countered by reference to traffic modelling data showing that the impact on journey times along Hatchet Road would be negligible.
The positioning of ‘no deliveries’ signage at the new site access would avoid large vehicles having to make sharp turns in a constrained space immediately after entering the site.
Concerns that two vehicles might struggle to pass /manoeuvre through the new junction, potentially impacting traffic flow on Hatchet Road, were countered by the submission of tracking plans.
The placement of a speed bump across the width of the new access would reduce vehicle speeds entering the site, thereby addressing concerns about the safety of pedestrians walking within the site car park.
Fears that the proposed new junction might create a short-cut for vehicles travelling between Hatchet Lane and Hatchet Road would be addressed by positioning ‘deliveries only’ signage at the Hatchet Lane access.
Responding to the revised application, the council’s transport officers noted that the access layout had been “subject to a modest rearrangement” but added that they considered it to be “broadly the same”. However, they conceded that the results of the applicant’s Road Safety Audit suggests that their original concerns were unfounded, meaning they could no longer object on road safety grounds.
Following publication of the recommended decision, Stoke Gifford councillor Ernie Brown invoked the ‘call in’ mechanism to force determination of the application by a committee of councillors.
Several speakers at the ensuing committee meeting contested the claim that poor vehicular access was the reason why the Co-op closed. Rather, it was due to the store’s inferior product range and high prices. Other speakers stated that the two existing vehicular access points are sufficient and that improving pedestrian access was more likely to have a positive effect.
With many students walking to and from school and college along Hatchet Road, and other pedestrians heading to and from bus stops, concerns were expressed about the increased risk of accidents.
Local councillors pointed out that with a new MetroBus service due to be introduced along Hatchet Road, it is imperative that additional impediments to traffic flow are avoided.
Cllr Ernie Brown drew attention to the fact that within the space of 100m on Hatchet Road there are two sets of traffic light crossings, two roundabouts and two bus stops (of which one is a MetroBus stop), with a further mini roundabout 30m away and restrictions under Parkway Bridge.
His comments found support from Cllr Brian Hopkinson, who asked: “How much more can you pack into a few hundred yards?”
Following a lengthy discussion, councillors on the committee voted 7:0 to refuse permission. There were two abstentions.
The formal reasons for refusal were agreed as:
“Notwithstanding the submitted road safety audit, the proposed development would result in a severe highway safety impact due to the creation of a new access and box junction on a busy classified road, in close proximity to a bus stop and pedestrian crossing to the detriment of visibility, traffic flows, pedestrian safety and would encourage the use of the car park as an informal route between Hatchet Lane and Hatchet Road.”
The applicant has the option of appealing the decision within 12 weeks. An invitation to provide a comment for inclusion in this article was declined.
More information and related links:
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on pages 6 & 7). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
UPDATE added 18th June 2021.
The applicant, Danolly Limited, has lodged an appeal against the decision by South Gloucestershire Council to refuse planning permission for the proposed new vehicular access off Hatchet Road.
Details of the appeal may be viewed under the planning application page on the SGC website (see link above).
See also: Appeal casework (reference APP/P0119/W/21/3276281).
Look out for a new article in the July/August issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine.