ARE we now so desperate for new housing development that we can ignore the guiding principle of all local, national and international development policy which is safe sustainable access?

There is an abundance of policies in the National Planning Policy Framework, Craven Local Plan and Gargrave Neighbourhood Plan intended to implement this key feature of sustainable development (for example: NPPF2, NPPF5, NPPF8, NPPF9, Craven Local Plan Policies INF7 and ENV3, Gargrave Neighbourhood Plan Policy G1).

Sustainable access is essential for promotion of walking and cycling both to promote healthy lifestyles and to mitigate against climate change.

On June 3, the Skipton and Ripon Area Planning Committee attended a site visit to the proposed Marton Road development of 38 houses. The following are some typical examples of serious concerns expressed by committee members later that afternoon during the Planning Committee’s deliberation of the proposals when they spent over an hour discussing the lack of safe access, particularly for pedestrians. (Gargrave residents say traffic from 'mega dairy' is a safety risk, Craven Herald online).

“I wouldn’t let a child walk to school on that road …. Everything that happens from that site is going to be by car”; "As a former school teacher, I would be very concerned about young children leaving this site and walking to school … the only means of entering or leaving this site is by vehicle, we are trying to stop people using vehicles, encouraging active travel by walking and cycling"; " As a father of five children who live on a 60mph road with no pavements in either direction, I do sympathise with children if not any pedestrian having to walk up and down that road", and “My heart as a parent, and as a reasonable person is telling me, this is a dangerous road”.

During the development of Craven Local Plan this site was assessed on several occasions as having ‘road safety and access issues Identified’ and that ‘a Transport Impact Assessment is likely to be required for this site’. These assessments and over 600 letters of objection across the two planning applications, most of them citing road safety as their primary concern, cannot all be wrong.

Despite all of this, both the planning manager and the legal representative maintained throughout the discussion that, whilst Marton Road may be dangerous, this fact was not relevant to the planning application because the site had been allocated for development without pavements or adequate highway capacity, and the current residents have no option other than to live with this.

Helen Johnson


Note - a decision on the Marton Road housing development is expected to be made by North Yorkshire Council's area planning committee sometime this summer.