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Issues That Will Stop Your Development

There are a number of variables that can determine the success or failure of a development scheme, especially in the early stages. This article looks at some of the main issues that can have an significant influence on the scheme especially regarding achieving planning permission.

Identify Any Land Access Issues

Check that the proposed development site can be accessed properly as early on in the project as possible. To avoid any unnecessary costs, land access should be confirmed before the architect has positioned a property or in the case of a larger proposal, designed the estate. The best way to carry out this check is to have a professional access audit carried out. If the access audit concludes that the site cannot be accessed safely and within the design criteria for the scale of development proposed, then the scheme is unlikely to get to the planning application stage. If brought in at an early stage, an experienced transport planner, could save considerable abortive costs in the long run.

Indentify Any Visibility Issues

Visibility from the actual point of access to the site is critical and is one of the key hurdles that needs to be overcome to obtain highway approval. The visibility splay is the area of land either side of the proposed access point. It is essential that it is kept clear of all permanent obstructions such as a wall or fence. It is vital that a driver departing the site is be able to clearly see if another vehicle is passing and of course the passing driver needs to be able to see if a car is about to pull out of the access into his path. The risk of an accident occurring increases significantly, the more substandard the visibility splay provided.

Circumstances do vary, so there is some flexibility in deciding the right visibility splay to use. For example, the lower the speed limit the smaller the splay, however, there are options available to the scheme designer. Firstly, by basing the splay on the main road’s speed limit, or secondly by determining the required splay based on the actual speed of the traffic. It is not unusual nowadays for Highway Authorities to request a one or two week long Automatic Traffic Count (ATC) using a counter that identifies the speeds of each vehicle. Additionally, this system can classify the vehicle (eg car or HGV) and count vehicle numbers traveling in each direction.

Idnetifying Any Car Parking Issues

Parking is a common stumbling block to progressing the scheme, especially where the site layout is constrained with limited space for parking. In such a scenario, the architect will need to decide:
a) if each property needs its own off street parking or
b) if parking will be shared communally

It is common for Highway Authorities to permit lower levels of parking if it is communal parking as opposed to off-street parking schemes. In the past Government guidance helped determine parking levels. However, more recently the Government changed its advice by giving Highway Officers the authority to determine what they think would be the correct level of parking. Developers must remember that parking ratios tend to be based on the numbers of bedrooms, so typically a one bedroom house may require 1.5 spaces whereas a 5 bedroom house 3 spaces.

Identifying Physical Design Issues

The physical design of the access road width should not be overlooked. As a general rule, the more houses proposed within the scheme, the wider the road width required. Additionally, on smaller proposals there may not be a requirement to provide footways and therefore have “shared” surfaces. However on larger projects, 1.8.m footways would be required, though the width could be reduced at pinch points. Whether it is a residential or commercial scheme, the access road will need to be designed in order to cater for deliveries, emergency vehicles and waste collection. All of these types of vehicles require consideration as they’ll need be able to negotiate bends as well as having turning areas within the actual development.

Identifying Any Non-car Modes of Transport Issues

Access by non-car modes of transport needs to be factored in to the Planning Application. For larger housing schemes a Travel Plan may need to be produced which considers how a developer would encourage residents to reduce car usage. For smaller schemes, the Highway Authority will need to be convinced that a developer has appropriate access to public transport as well as made provision for non-car users. Ideally a development needs to be near and preferably within 250m of a bus stop with a regular bus service. The design of the development also needs to incorporate cycle parking or storage, have good pedestrian access and there is increasing pressure to incorporate electric vehicle re-charging points at each property.

Additional Information

Unfortunately there is a long list of other information that may need to be submitted as part of a Planning Application. These often include and are not limited to:-
image show a tick or check mark Transport Assessment Report
image show a tick or check mark Travel Plan
image show a tick or check mark Traffic surveys and traffic modelling of the surrounding highway network
image show a tick or check mark Road Safety Audit Services which checks the highway design for safety by all road users
image show a tick or check mark Noise reports
image show a tick or check mark Energy Saving Assessments eg BREEAM, SAP, water efficiency, renewable energy saving assessments.
image show a tick or check mark Environmantal surveys eg bat and tree surveys
image show a tick or check mark Flood risk assessments
To find out more about our services visit Highway Planning.