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Response to County Council proposal to make car-free property eligible for CPZ permits

The County Council is proposing to enable eligibility for residents of No. 2A Gathorne Road (conversion to Flats 1 to 6 Wingfield House) to apply for residents parking permits and visitors permits. This follows the rescinding of a decision taken at an earlier Cabinet Member for Environment delegated decisions meeting.

Headington Lib Dem councillors have sent the following response to the consultation.

 

6 April 2018

We are writing to object most strongly to the above proposal for the reasons listed below.

1    This would contravene the condition of planning consent for the above properties

  • Planning consent for these properties was given only on condition that the development would be car-free. That condition was informed by advice given by the County Council in its capacity as statutory consultee.
  • The evidence for this development to be car-free was substantial and well-considered: the properties are within walking distance to local shops, schools, facilities, and bus routes leading to Oxford, London and the airports. A local car-sharing scheme is also in operation and there are a number of cycle hire schemes which are popular in the Headington area.
  • We believe that the granting of eligibility for parking permits and visitors permits to the above housing units designated as ‘car-free’ against the condition of planning consent would set a precedent for all other properties in Headington and across the City. This might well lead to a huge number of other similar applications; this is a common request in Headington from owners of HMOs and flats – units with parking eligibility attached are highly prized and generally command higher prices. Parking pressure is already unacceptably high in parts of Headington because it has become a major employment hub, and councillors receive complaints from long-standing residents who pay the County Council for parking permits but cannot find an on-road space to park their vehicles without difficulty.

 

2          This would be unacceptable as it is inconsistent with County Council strategy 

  • The County Council is carrying out its Access to Headington scheme on the B4995. The objectives of that scheme are, inter alia, to:
  • Manage growth in car traffic by improving provision for more walking, cycling and use of public transport
  • Reduce congestion
  • Promote health and wellbeing by reducing transport’s environmental impacts

We believe that the County Council’s objective to reduce congestion is not best-served by encouraging more vehicle parking.

  • This area is very well served by public transport, and is becoming more cyclist and pedestrian-friendly The County Council’s Oxford Transport Strategy seeks to introduce Rapid Transit buses to improve public transport still further in the Headington area.
  • The Access to Headington scheme for the B4995 Windmill Road will result in a net loss of on-road parking spaces. Windmill Road residents will be looking to park in adjacent residential roads including Margaret Road, Gathorne Road, St. Anne’s Road and Rock Edge. So there will already be extra parking pressure in the Gathorne Road area. Any extra parking permits granted to car-free housing will add to the parking congestion and increase traffic movements half-on and half-off the footway.

 

3          Current parking pressure

  • Local residents have demonstrated to us that there is already parking pressure in Gathorne Road. There are fewer parking places than the number of housing units in the road, and a number of homes do not have off-road parking. Carer parking is required by those in supported living accommodation, and one space is designated disabled only.
  • The Chair of the local residents’ association has supplied photographs showing that the on-road parking places are frequently full, and we are assured by residents that this is frequently the case.
  • Eligibility for permits for ‘car-free’ units will mean that on-road parking spaces will be competed for by even more Gathorne Road residents and tenants, and parking overspill will spread to neighbouring roads causing inconvenience to the wider community.

 

4          Inspector’s decision at the appeal

  • We recognise that a challenge to an inspector’s appeal decision would be unusual. However we believe that on this occasion the inspector’s appeal decision should be challenged, as it seems to us to be ill-considered given the weight of evidence against it and the gravity of the precedent such a ruling would set.

In conclusion, we believe that the County Council should act consistently with the advice it gave at planning consultation, and with its strategy on reducing environmental impacts and congestion in the Headington Area.

We believe that the Cabinet Member listened carefully to the views of residents and members and made a balanced decision at the earlier Cabinet Member Decision meeting on 12th October last.

We urge the Cabinet Member to reject this proposal.

 

    Roz Smith

    County Councillor for Headington and Quarry Division

 

    Mohammed Altaf-Khan and Ruth Wilkinson

    City Councillors for Headington Ward

LED lights in Headington – County response

We have contacted the County Council following national newspaper articles on a recent Public Health England document that referred to adverse health effects of LED street lighting.

The street lighting team has sent us a statement as follows (sic):

“The Council is fully aware of the report published by Public Health England, which builds on previous research which has been available for some time and refers primarily to the much  5000k LED lights that are available on the market which, whilst the most energy efficient, contain a higher level of blue light. Since the council started implementing LED lighting however, the council has acknowledged the need to balance potential savings in energy use and potential health impacts and as such have specified a warmer light for residential areas (3000k) and slightly bluer light (4000k) for the strategic road network. This approach follows the guidance outlined within the PHE report. Notwithstanding this, it is recognised that there are always people who may be more sensitive to such lighting than others, and where this has occurred the council has worked with individuals to install further modifications to minimise the impact and will continue to do so on a case by case basis.”

 

Buses in Queen Street

We share this interesting information gained via a question from a Lib Dem colleague to the County Council Cabinet yesterday.

Cllr HOWSON: Since buses returned to Queen Street, how many incidents involving buses and either pedestrians or cyclists have been reported and how many of these resulted in someone being taken to hospital?

COUNCILLOR YVONNE CONSTANCE, CABINET MEMBER FOR ENVIRONMENT
We can confirm that there have been no reported accidents from the reopening of Queen Street to buses on 24 October 2017 until end of February 2018. We only hold data for recorded accidents and this would not include incidents that resulted in no injury or were not reported.

Public toilets at Bury Knowle Park – update

We are advised by the City Council’s Streetscene team that:

At BKP Five of the nine cubicles are completed and the flooring contractor is on site today and tomorrow with the aim of completion before the weekend. By this time the only facilities out of action will be those where the doors are desperately in need of replacement- so much so that members of the public have been getting stuck inside. These doors are on order and should be replaced in the next couple of weeks.

Once all of this is complete we will be deep cleaning the toilets to give the tiling a bit of a ‘lift’.

Further Q&As on Access to Headington

We’ve just received some answers to further questions raised at last night’s Headington Ward Focus meeting from the project team. Here they are.

London Road

Is there enough space for a buggy on the crossing island?

Yes – the island will be 2m wide

Can there be CCTV enforcement to ensure drivers observe yellow boxes?

Down the line – possibly. The council is seeking powers to do this but is currently not able to do it. At present only TfL have been granted delegated powers to enforce yellow box infringements which are otherwise the preserve of the police.

 

Headley Way

People are concerned about tree felling in the nesting season

  • We’ll have a qualified ecologist checking every tree to be felled, if it has an active nest we can’t touch it until the nest has been proven vacated.
  • For absolutely clarity, the presence of a nest in itself is not enough to stop the felling of a tree.  Occupancy is the key (Ecologists are trained to tell signs if a nest is “active” and if they’re not sure the tree doesn’t come down until they are certain)
  • The project team will not cut corners on this – a blackbird’s nest has previously delayed completion of a major scheme for 4 months whilst we waited for the bird to leave
  • If we find that a significant number of trees are occupied then we’ll need to re-programme the works (either starting elsewhere/later but it’s entirely dependent on what we find)

Concerns about cyclists being “car doored”

  • We’ve included a buffer zone between parking and marked cycle lanes but even so both cyclists and motorists will have to be mindful (as with any cycle lane passing parking)
  • Those cyclists not wanting to use the road can still legitimately use the shared facility on the uphill section which would avoid this risk.

Safety concerns re drop off/pick up at St Joseph’s

This is an existing issue.  Any parking provision intended for use by parents might get abused by hospital goers so the situation would have to be led by the school (parent parking charters / walking buses / cycling initiatives)

Uncontrolled crossing at Osler Road junction – Q&As

Here are the answers by councillors to questions raised at yesterday evening’s Headington Ward Focus Meeting about the new crossing.

Osler Road uncontrolled crossing

Why is it needed?

High number of minor safety incidents

Why introduce it at such short notice?

Funding became available. It was considered best value to the taxpayers and provide least disturbance to residents during the Easter school holiday period

Why no consultation?

There were plans to put in a toucan crossing here from the outset, and many responses were received for this from the community, but it fell out of scope when money got tight. It went back in as priority once funding was available due to safety concerns

Who comes up with options for road crossings?

Amec Foster Wheeler provide alternative options and explain which ones are most feasible in their view in response to a spec from the County Council.

What spec was given?

A broad one. Controlled or uncontrolled crossings, either directly across the road or staggered.

Does the County Council have to go with the Amec recommendation?

No. This plan was subject to quite a lot of debate and challenges were made by the safety team in order to find the best option

Was money a factor in coming up with an uncontrolled, rather than a controlled, crossing?

Absolutely not. Safety concerns were prioritized. It wasn’t possible for a straight controlled crossing to be put in without a second set of lights, and the synching of these and delays to public transport made this prohibitive. A staggered crossing would result in further wait for pedestrians, and the size of the island would block movement into Osler Road

  • Original provision showed a toucan crossing incorporating the bus gate, after developing the design further it was determined that a controlled crossing could not be delivered safely.
  • Alternatives were considered, including a zebra, which had similar safety concerns.
  • The best alternative was to provide an uncontrolled crossing, incorporating a build out to shorten the crossing and providing a refuge in the middle of the road
  • There remains a broad local support for pedestrian provision in this location but bus companies are understandably concerned that the changes may affect the level of bus priority they receive with this latest proposal and the County is engaging with them to mitigate their concerns. There may be an additional delay of 28-40 seconds on the way into Headington from the City Centre but this is considered worthwhile because of the safety concerns at that location

Will the crossing be used by cyclists as well as pedestrians?

It is first and foremost a pedestrian crossing. It would technically be possible for cyclists to dismount, use the crossing and then resume cycling in the cycle lane opposite.

Who has been informed?

Letters to The Occupier at addresses in London Road between the garage and the controlled pedestrian crossing/lights have been sent by a distribution company.

Councillors are concerned about this as not all tenants in flats above shops may see the notification. We are also concerned that people in Osler Road, New High Street and Lime Walk have not been circulated, and we shall contact these residents ourselves.

Have the bus companies been informed?

Yes. See answer above

Will this affect community projects?

It will not affect the greening project, the Headington Market, or the trees with the Christmas lights

Will any trees have to be taken out?

No.

When will it happen?

It’s already started. Here is the approximate timetable, subject to weather conditions:

w/b 24 March             Footway works

w/b 3 April                  2-way lights (for 2 weeks). Works area will take up half the road

w/b 17 April                Narrow lane running (for 2 weeks)

Where will construction space be?

3 parking bays have been suspended in Lime Walk near KwikFit

Will there be works at weekends?

Yes on Saturday mornings.

For more information, please see the Access to Headington website

Your councillors called for the introduction of a safer pedestrian crossing at this point in the initial consultation, but were hoping that a controlled crossing option could be found. Traffic will be slow in the centre of Headington during April. We are concerned that there has been insufficient notice given to those affected although we understand the reasoning given, and we feel that residents in adjoining roads should have been leafleted. However we welcome much-needed safety improvements for pedestrians at such a busy location.

Bury Knowle Park toilets – latest info

Here is the latest information we have on the toilets re-furb at Bury Knowle Park from the City Council. We have asked for much better communication in future.

Please accept my apologies for not letting you know we were planning on doing some improvements to the toilets at Bury Knowle Park.

I am sure you are aware that the toilets are very well used, also they do suffer from mindless vandalism which we do our best to keep on top of, so much so that we did get an award from the Loo of the year award for the last 2 years.

We had noticed that the doors are damaged, a few missing toilet roll holders and also the flooring was damaged and had started to become a tripping hazard.

With this in mind, we put an order through to our flooring contractors and asked that they looked at the flooring and made arrangements to get the repairs completed ASAP for safety reasons, also to assist in getting the spend in this financial year.

They were asked to keep 50% of the toilets open whilst they undertook the work, which is what they did try to do, but for a couple of days the 50% they took out only left 2 and the disabled because the other 3 were vandalised and also awaiting other repairs.

I went and had a look yesterday, the signage certainly can be improved and will be when we start to get 7 new doors fitted in the near future; also a lesson learnt that as and when we take out facilities rather than just a sign saying out of order – we should give more appropriate information – plus let local councillors know we are doing this.

The flooring will be completed in the next couple of days, we will still have 3 toilets out of action due to the doors needing replacing, but everything else will be open and fit for purpose.

We have also exchanged the 2 metal signs on the outside of the building as the old ones were damaged due to the amount of time we have had to remove graffiti of them, so numbers are now available so members of the public can get hold of us easier.

Road surface repairs in Woodlands Road start Thursday 22nd March

Residents living in and around Woodlands Road have asked us to request road repairs for some considerable time, but these have not been assigned sufficient priority to rise to the top of the list. This was one of the most frequent complaints we logged in our recent street surveys in the area.

We’re pleased to tell you that Woodlands Road will be patched from tomorrow 22nd March. We have had to fund this from a number of different pots – the Headington Ward budget/CIL allocation, funding from Vital Energi’s community contribution, and the City Council’s Highways Engineering budget. Work to complete both sides of Headley Way is likely to take more than 5 days so it’s quite a big job. We’re glad the work is being done before the Access to Headington works re-start in earnest!

Latest on Access to Headington

We have just received this information from the County Council.

You will all no doubt be aware the Oxfordshire Growth Board announced the Year 1 growth project allocations yesterday and A2H received the full monies asked for. The announcement came a week earlier than we were expecting, it means that the Headley Way works will be continuing as originally scoped. 

I will update you with more information when I have it but the intention will be to start the Headley Way works after Easter, an Easter start would then have the programme running to Christmas 2018 (weather permitting). We will start at the Marsh Lane roundabouts as per our original programme but the programme at the JR access will be changed as we’ve managed to do some early works in advance that should reduce the disruption there.

As before, we will be undertaking a pre-construction exhibition at a location/time TBC.

The funding announcement also allows us to reintroduce elements of the work that were removed from scope including the pedestrian crossing on London Road at the Osler Road bus gate. A plan is attached showing the proposals for your information.  The proposals differ from the originals in the following way:

  • Original provision showed a toucan crossing incorporating the bus gate, after developing the design further it was determined that a controlled crossing could not be delivered safely.
  • Alternatives were considered, including a zebra, which had similar safety concerns.
  • The best alternative was to provide an uncontrolled crossing, incorporating a build out to shorten the crossing and providing a refuge in the middle of the road
  • There remains a broad local support for pedestrian provision in this location but bus companies are understandably concerned that the changes may affect the level of bus priority they receive with this latest proposal and we’re engaging with them to mitigate their concerns.

We will be looking to start the work as soon as possible, taking advantage of the Easter holidays if at all possible. It’s envisaged that the work would take 6-8 weeks given the site constraints.  We will be publicly advertising the attached shortly and will advise of the programme of works and TM phasing once approved by network management.

We are checking that works to trees can be done at this time, bearing in mind that this is the start of the nesting season.

Trades vans obstructing pavements

We have followed up on this following your complaints at your last ward focus meeting.

County Parking tell us:

Vehicles contravening the restrictions can be reported by residents directly to NSL Services and wherever possible they will send an officer immediately to the location. (0845 337 1138 option 3)

Actual obstruction of the highway still remains under Thames Valley Police and vehicles can be reported via the non-emergency 101 telephone number. If it is a regular occurrence residents could bring the matter to the attention of their local PCSO who can keep an eye on the situation-that would be the best bet!