NDP Update and 2020 Traffic Survey feedback so far within the Cold Ash Parish.
Hopefully as you read this, we all should be, another step further out of lockdown and starting to safely enjoy the spring sunshine.
Spring often brings with it a slew of new construction projects and planning applications for the parish to consider. As you are probably aware, our Neighbourhood Development Plan NDP, once completed and hopefully agreed upon with the parish, will be critical in the future because it will be your opportunity to influence how such developments are viewed in the future.
So, what updates this month from the NDP?
You may recall our request for assistance from interested locals last month to support and help us develop our NDP plan further. The good news is that we had several willing volunteers step forward, so we now have an additional 6 members on our team! All have been inducted and have begun working on various aspects of the plan.
A traffic Survey update
A key component of life in Cold Ash is the consideration of transport conditions within the parish and how these are likely to change over future years within the Parish. You may recall last year this became a major initiative within the Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) with local data recoding units were strategically spread out over the parish to help us understand what was really happening. This initiative was led by Garth Simpson, our Cold Ash and Chieveley Councillor with Simon Watts Transport Planning (SWTP) employed as a consultant for this key traffic survey.
After gathering and analysing the traffic data SWTP has created a provisional report and the Cold Ash Parish council (CAPC) are awaiting some last information from West Berks Council (WBC) in order to finalise the report.
When completed, this report will provide an assessment of current transportation conditions and issues encountered; it will also consider future traffic forecasts for the parish and the potential impacts these may have. Finally, it will consider a variety of possible actions we can take to address not only these current issues, but also to help us find ways to mitigate the potential effects of future traffic growth.
So, what did we learn?
Although not final, here are some of the initial Points the report has found:
- The Parish is pre-dominantly rural and only 26% of the road network within the Parish has pavements associated.
- Car Ownership in the Parish is high; with 1.9 cars per household and 89% of work-related journeys being completed by car.
- Traffic flow through the village is high with Peak Hour flow on Cold Ash Hill alone of 550 vehicles per hour equating to a daily traffic volume of some 6,000 vehicles.
- High levels of traffic use the village as a cut through to access the M4/A34 corridors which brings the totals to around 9,000 vehicles per day.
- Speeding is often cited as a concern within the Parish but appears to be only a major concern on the village peripheral area. Surveys record that the 85th percentile speed (commonly used for analysis and design purposes) show that 85% of traffic is travelling at or below the speed limit (or, put another way, only 15% of traffic is travelling above this speed).
- The survey outside St Mark’s School recorded 85th percentile speeds of 33mph (and average speeds of 28mph).
- The worst area for speeding is Red Shute Hill where the 85th percentile speed is 39mph in both directions.
- Parking in Cold Ash is and remains a large problem with only 40 spaces available at the Acland Hall, the rifle club and St. Marks Church. These are often over capacity with ensuing parking spilling onto local roads.
- Particular problems with street parking is also evident near both St Mark’s and St Finian’s Schools at the start and end of the school day resulting in large numbers of children and parents walking on the carriageway with the associated risks from both the traffic and the parked cars.
And what about future traffic growth within the Parish?
A model has been developed by West Berkshire Council (WBC) to provide future traffic forecasts based on Local land uses. This model uses 2017 as its base line and forecasts out to the 2037. Currently this plan forecasts substantial traffic increases from 148% to 477% on the Ridge (to be confirmed by the release of awaited data from WBC) within the Local Plan period. This is of particular concern as surrounding roads (such as Floral Way and Tull Way) are predicted to have a traffic increases of between 30% and 90%. The immediate knock on for Cold Ash is the prediction of a minimum increase of 27% on Cold Ash Hill alone.
Traffic congestion and pedestrian/pupil safety concerns at both St Mark's and St Finian's Schools remain major concerns for us in the parish and will need to be carefully considered.
What can we do to control traffic and improve safety?
Mitigating for these traffic increases will not be an easy task, but it is likely to include a wide range of measures such as (but not limited to) traffic calming at specific points on our road network; potential pedestrian crossings; additional HGV signage; more off and on (but safer) street car parking; and plans to help us move away from using our cars as our primary mode of transportation where possible.
What are the next steps and when will we hear more?
To ensure that we maintain our focus on this critical issue and drive the necessary changes, Councillor David Silsby has agreed to take over project ownership within the council. CAPC will distribute the report to the community for review and feedback once the final data from WBC has been received and incorporated into the report. More work with the community and WBC will be done as a result of this.
If you have any questions for the NDP team you can reach us either through our Parish website or directly via e mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
On behalf of the Cold Ash NDP Team