During day three (10 June 2021) of the Land North of Braeburn Way Planning Appeal, Mr James Parker, director of Hub Transport Planning (the independent consultancy used by the Appellant to investigate possible traffic issues) said that the Planning Inspector should attribute less weight to “anecdotal evidence” from residents than other traffic evidence.
He added that the Inspector should not break away from methodology:
“Because we have no way of verifying it [residents’ claims], you’re in danger of going down a path you don’t need to.”
Mr Parker explained to the Appeal the basics of the methods used to measure and predict traffic. He added that this methodology was one of the few things his company and the Highways Authority “actually agree on“.
Mr Parker said that he visited the site about 12 times, with “maybe seven” before COVID, and the remainder from 2020 onwards.
He said that he saw nothing untoward to what he would normally expect for the location:
“It’s crucial that residents don’t know the times of the visits because you got to observe what happens without any outside influence.
“Several of the visits were during the morning drop-off and pick-up times, I did the afternoons as well.
“I have also done evening peak and I’ve seen it outside of those periods completely to get a full context of what happens when the school is not operating.”
He added that he tends to count for residential developments between 07:00 and 10:00 and between 16:00 and 19:00. These times, he said would ensure it would include any “slightly offset” peak times. He also has to allow for roadworks and events:
“In terms of neutrality, we have to pick school term time, and not a school holiday period.
“All of this was done correctly and in accordance with the guidance in November 2019.”
Lee Rumble, a Willow Green resident asked Mr Parker:
“The residents currently feel that the traffic is not great and we are talking about adding an additional 180 Dwellings.
“So if it’s not great now, how does your calculation come to the fact it is just going to be acceptable later down the line?”
Mr Parker replied:
“Because I’ve undertaken an assessment in line with my own observations.
“I’ve undertaken assessment in line with the guidance we have to adhere to and I consider acceptable in my professional judgement having done this job for over 24 years.”
When pressed on a possible increase of injury to pedestrians if the scheme went ahead, Mr Parker said:
“I can’t sit here and say that there wouldn’t be an increased risk. There is always an increased risk when you create a new junction, when you redesign a junction, when you add traffic anywhere.
“It’s whether that increase risk makes it unacceptable and essentially that is my case, and it’s the local authorities case that it would be unacceptable.”
The Appellant is appealing against Central Bedfordshire Council’s refusal by delegated decision for the building of up to 180 dwellings and open spaces on land to the north of Braeburn Way, Cranfield.
The appeal started on 8 June 2021 and is expected to last up to nine days. It can be viewed via a livestream on YouTube (ref 3267704 – Central Bedfordshire).