Transport evidence puts brakes on harmful development
Bicester Village Retail Outlet Centre is a major Oxfordshire tourist destination, attracting approximately five million visitors a year. Managers of the site, Value Retail Ltd, became concerned that proposals for a nearby retail park would have a detrimental impact on the local highway network. Motion’s evidence was key to the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to refuse consent, on the grounds that the scheme would lead to a severe impact on the surrounding highway network.
The application was initially turned down by the planning authority, despite a positive recommendation from Oxfordshire County Council, the local highway authority. As a Rule 6 Party, Value Retail argued against the scheme, supported by Motion’s Phil Bell as expert transport witness. The local council’s decision to refuse the scheme was successfully upheld at a public inquiry.
Phil Bell explains, “Paragraph 32 of the National Planning Policy Framework states that an application should only be refused on transport grounds where the residual cumulative impacts of development are severe.”
The original transport assessment did not persuade the local authority that there would not be a detrimental impact on the local highway network. It also underestimated the volume of traffic that would be generated. By modelling future traffic flows, Motion was able to demonstrate that neighbouring roads and junctions would be severely affected, following construction of the new retail park.
On two of the affected junctions, the degree of saturation would have been over 100 per cent, causing unacceptable levels of congestion. The proposed car parking provision was also proved to be insufficient to meet the needs of the new development.
This article first appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of Insight.