LDF: We must not brush aside the Highways issue : 27th January 2010

One of the most important issues which should concern Council members is the impact of the proposals in the Council’s Local Development Framework (the new local plan – LDF for short) on the local highway network.


The Council’s proposals include over 3,000 new houses and a new superstore with a 29,000 sq. ft. floor area.


On 29th October 2009, members were invited to consider the LDF in discussion, so as to assist them to choose their preferred options for the LDF. The decisions on the preferred options were to be made at a Council meeting on 15th December.


 At the meeting on 29th October, we were told that a Highways Transportation Impact Study would be provided to members before the meeting of 15th December. It subsequently transpired that a draft of this highways impact study was due at Ryedale’s offices the week after 29th October. It is not clear when it did arrive, but a letter from a Council officer dated 23rd November acknowledges that it had been received.


I used to believe that, by law, every Council member is entitled to receive copies of all the documents that are required to enable members to carry out their duties as elected representatives. I would have thought it was reasonable to request sight of this draft document, so that if the draft was changed, the process of amending it would have been transparent. I was refused sight of this document – and have still not seen it.


At the meeting of 15th December, no highways transportation impact study was produced. Instead, five minutes before the meeting, members were issued with a copy of a letter which had been faxed that day from North Yorkshire County Council.


The relevant paragraph of this letter begins with words which remind one of Alistair Campbell: “NYCC in collaboration with RDC are refining the presentation of the information in the final report”. The letter goes on to say: “However results from the modelling work show that a variation of Scenario 4 (based on reduction in the residential allocation from 3,665 units to 2,165 units) identified within the STA can be accommodated on the local highway network” (with “deliverable” junction improvements) “without an unacceptable highway impact”.


My recollection is that members were not told what was meant by “Scenario 4”, what the other scenarios were, why scenario 4 had been chosen, or whether or not scenario 4 included a superstore. Nor can I recall an explanation being offered as to why the Council was being recommended to allocate land for 3,000 new houses, when NYCC appeared to be recommending a reduction to 2,165 units.


Members were then asked to consider the “preferred options” which had been recommended in the agenda. These included allocation of land for 200 houses a year over the 15 year plan period, and the location of at least half of these in Malton and Norton.


Members were also asked to agree a “preferred option” which, in effect (if sustained by a government inspector), will give the green light for a new 29,000 sq.ft net sales area superstore (selling food and non-food items) at Wentworth Street Car Park.


I was the only member to vote against these proposals. I did so because I thought there was insufficient information before the Council on which to base their decisions.


I leave readers to form their own conclusions on the likely impact of these proposals on our local highway network. It was astonishing that all the other ward members from Malton and Norton voted for these recommendations, in these circumstances.


The Council’s preferred options will go out to public consultation in February.


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