We’re still on the subject of transport this week but cycleways for a change.
The County Council recently issued new design standards for footpaths and cycleways and these are a significant improvement on what has been allowed in the past.
The aim is that these new standards become commonplace in all new schemes and, as opportunities arise to renew and upgrade existing infrastructure, they become standard throughout the county.
So why aren’t they enforcing them on new planning applications?
A recent application submitted by the Vale Council to their own planning department was for the access to the area where they propose to put the new Leisure Centre on Mably Way.
The proposal included a footpath along part of the North side of Mably Way, but this didn’t go far enough to join up with the current footpath from the Airplane roundabout to the Canal footpath.
We objected to the application on these grounds.
Just before the meeting, the officers realised that the planning conditions for Grove Airfield require the developers to build a combined 2 metre footpath/ cycleway along the full length of Mably Way before the 500th house is occupied.
But 2 metres is no longer considered acceptable and this application would have been a good opportunity to upgrade that “combined footpath/cycleway” to meet the new standards of at least 3 metres wide.
The Crab Hill development is another example. The original outline planning consent included the requirement for a cycleway alongside the main A417 road. This has now been dropped as apparently there is insufficient space between road and trees.
The cycleway would have provided a critical cycling link from Crab Hill towards Wantage town centre.
The developers suggest that cyclists should take the more scenic route through the development.
They do propose to provide a 2 metre wide footway along the boundary of the site and suggest that the footway could be used by cyclists as well.
This doesn’t meet the new standards so we hope that the County Planning Officers will object to this plan.
The developers say that the lack of cycleway is to ensure as much greenery along the boundary is retained as possible.
They don’t have a choice, the outline application has a condition which requires the development to be sheltered by a tree belt from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the other side of the A417.