There are no public questions, statements or petitions to be considered at this meeting at the time of despatch of the agenda.
The Chair welcomed Mr Gracey to the meeting.
Mr Gracey read the following statement:-
“I would like to set the scene as to why I am here today. The background relates to ongoing concerns on Harras Moor in relation to Planning Permission that has been granted to the following areas on Harras Moor,Whitehaven. I will start with infrastructure; we have at present 3 developments with outline planning permission where 3 independent surveys have been produced relating to sites on Harras Moor. There will be a fourth shortly which will also include another individual survey. There will be in total for the existing 3 with outline planning permission 119 houses with the fourth to be presented in near future for 370 houses. There is also land which is the site of 9 houses to being sold to extend this to 50 houses subject once again to planning permission. If planning is successful that will give a total of 539 houses. I have through various routes including FOI not found any input from CCC or the Local Highways as to whether they support the infrastructure as being adequate. The information available only shows specific localised improvements in relation to Visibility Splays and pavements. This isolated approach gives no appreciation of the cumulative effect on traffic volumes and road safety from Golf course junction to bridge at Sunny Hill is 0.75 miles with a steep gradient. The speed limit for this road is 30mph, last year, via a Highways speed survey, speeds were recorded in relation to entry/ exit at the site of these developments at 36.3 &36.7 mph As a reminder we would have in total 489 development already submitted. Based on figures produced that on average each new home has 2.4 cars per household, there would be 1173 cars potentially using Harras Road as the primary route into Whitehaven. Last year the Highways did a speed survey which gave a reading of volume of traffic at present using Harras Road. Then taking one reading of traffic heading into Whitehaven in one week, the survey showed 8768 cars headed west which gives a total of 1012 per day and if we use this criteria of there being 60 houses on Harras Road, with each house having 2 cars doing 2 journeys into town, we register 240 cars passing that same point. We can, therefore assume that 1252 minus 240 that 1012 cars use this road as a “rat run”. There are also concerns that when the road was constructed it was probably adequate but by today’s standards this road is unsuitable for excessive traffic. There are issues with the safety aspect 1) the road width varies considerably 2) the cambers on the road are all wrong 3) the surface has deteriorated 4) the pavement is the minimum requirement at 1.2 meters but this is reduced further in that the lampposts are situated in the centre reducing this down to 80 cm. At every one of lamppost sites there is a dropped curb which I have seen in some instances people with prams having to go on the road to manoeuvre past the lamppost. Having to do this is extremely dangerous as there is a sign to warn traffic heading west to be aware that the road narrows, but also that oncoming traffic could be in the middle of the road resulting in traffic hugging the curb 5) the bridge under the A595 is a single span which has to accommodate two way traffic plus pedestrians without the aid of a pavement. The purpose of my attendance here today is to bring to your attention a lack of cohesion not only on Harras Moor but within the borough and to prompt your duty of care obligations to conduct a Class 1 independent survey on the road beginning at the junction with the 60mph road at the Golf course end stretching down to George Street. The reason I emphasise independent, is that if the Developer provides the survey on the infrastructure, then they are presented in a way to ensure the Planning application is achieved and I understand these assessments are managed by Flood &Control aspect of the County Council as opposed to Highways Operation. I also have serious concerns regarding excessive flooding of the road and whether the main sewerage pipe would be adequate to accommodate extra developments.”
Members were invited to ask questions of Mr Gracey.
Mr Roberts, the local member, supported Mr Gracey and agreed on the unsuitability of the road. He gave a further example to members of an incident which occurred recently whereby a HGV had blocked the road.
Members commented that the absence of a Local Plan for Copeland made it difficult to plan for future developments that may impact on the infrastructure, and the County Council could only respond to planning applications on their individual merits.
The Chair thanked Mr Gracey for his attendance and gave the following response:-
“I would like to start by thanking Mr Gracey for attending Local Committee today and taking the time to highlight your concerns in person.
If I can begin by outlining the role of this Local Committee and how we link with developments and planning applications within the Borough.
As I trust you appreciate Cumbria County Council are only a consultee when it comes to any planning application. We do aim to ensure we are actively engaged with the process and always aim to table comments through officers to be passed on to the Borough during consultation for consideration.
Through the support of the Highways Network Manager (Kevin) and the Development Management Team we have visibility of all applications in Copeland large and small that are likely to have an impact on the highway. As strategic highway authority we readily provide local information and suggestions for highway or infrastructure related improvements.
It is our interest as Elected Members to ensure that we have appropriate infrastructure improvements in place as part of any new development.
As an authority I feel I must highlight that we work closely with developers to ensure through Section 106 agreements we ascertain appropriate infrastructure to support the development, In Copeland I understand that the agreed figure to be in the region of £1m.
In relation to this particular issue at Harras Moor, I can confirm that it is something that this Local Committee recognise through support of Cllr Roberts and Cllr Whiteside as an area of concern given the level of potential development.
Again as you are well aware the site has recently been subject to assessment through the multi agency group CRASH (Casualty Reduction and Safer Highways) where a series of surveys were undertaken based on the volume, speed and use of Harras Moor. This again, enables us as a local committee to highlight any issues and suggest any improvements prior to any planning being approved.
The challenge we have as a Local Authority, is to form responses that take into account a number of developments in a certain area, in this case a potential increase in 539 properties. In the absence of a Local Plan we have to respond to each application separately. Although we accept a Local Plan is being developed the absence of said document does make it difficult to support major infrastructure investment and development throughout the area.
I am aware that you have had regular dialogue with CCC officers and I am keen to ensure this continues. As a Local Committee and by way of reassurance we are fully committed as a consultee that highway improvements are introduced to negate the concerns described.
The Chair asked that an item be added to the agenda for the next Copeland Highways Working Group to enable members to consider this in more detail.
The Chair thanked Mr Gracey for attending the meeting.