Report of Mark Shaw and Sarah Gibson visit to Penn & Tylers Green 31st January 2017
P&TGRS hosted a visit from Cllr Mark Shaw, Cabinet Member for Transportation and Sarah Green, Senior Transport Strategy Officer, Bucks CC, following an invitation to view the key traffic related issues in the village.
P&TGRS were represented by Miles Green, Brian Bennett, Robert Robinson, Gill Markham, and invited guests were Ken Cooke and Gerry King representing the Ashwells Forum and Peter Miller representing the Penn School Working Group.
The visitors were shown the following route ( with thanks to Gerry King for chauffering) :- Village Hall to Cock Lane, noting road restrictions by the Middle School and the need for HGV “No Entry” signs, up the sharply rising entry to Ashwells, then Cock Lane to the planned point of connection to the Spine Road, on down to our proposed alternative connection point (just above Pimms Close), up & down Pimms Grove then crossing the narrow railway bridge, turning left (more yellow crosshatching requested) along A40 then up Hammersley Lane, noting the narrow railway tunnel, the site of proposed roundabout in the middle of the steeply rising and usually badly congested twisting hill road (just lower than Robinson Ave), then finally along the narrow, unpavemented section running down towards the Old Queens Head.
A second route followed – to show the entrance to Penn School, then to Hazlemere Roundabout passing the Horsefields noting the long queues back to the Mayflower pub.
Although, there were many comments made during the trip, the opportunity to discuss the whole situation took place at the meeting in the Village Hall, Mark Shaw advised that following the meeting, he and Sarah would prepare their response to the issues raised.
The key points raised by all representatives during the visit. ( thanks to Ken for his notes)
1. Ken opened the discussion saying ‘Cock Lane is inappropriate for extensive widening’
a. In its current form, Cock Lane is one of the defining characteristics of Penn & Tylers Green. The proposed changes will result in a loss of distinctiveness and character. It is regarded as an integral to the local landscape character and its widening would be an attack on that character. This is recognised in the Chilterns Conservation Board guidelines for highways (jointly published, among others, with Buckinghamshire County Council) which state: “Many roads in the Chilterns are single track, with occasional passing places. They are a feature which helps to conserve the rural character of the area”
b. There is a danger of creating a vicious circle by means of so-called improvements that allow for more traffic, resulting in increased use at faster speeds, leading to safety concerns, which in turn results in the need for mitigation measures that have further damaging effect on the rural character.
c. If safety is an issue, a straw poll of the people at the meeting (all of us have been P&TG residents for many decades), indicated nothing worse has ever happened than a minor shunt. Which goes to prove that, by reducing traffic speeds, a single track road such as Cock Lane, is inherently safe.
d. This is concern about the use of Cock Lane by pedestrians and cyclists as well as cost, how to get the best value out of whatever funding is available to spend on Cock Lane. Far better value would be gained for the local community by spending the money on creating a new pathway running alongside the east side of the hedge, and landscaping enhancements at the junctions.
e. Ken concluded by quoting Chilterns Conservation Board guiding principles for the design of all highway works in AONB: “Unless there is an overriding safety issue, do as little as possible.”
2. Gerry King then circulated a briefing on the traffic volumes on Cock Lane and Hammersley Lane, based on Jacobs’ (Traffic consultants to BCC & WDC) own transport framework report, pointing out that categorically it does not recommend the widening of Cock Lane.
a. Re Cock Lane: Jacobs own reports show that the incremental peak hour traffic flow from all the Reserve Sites will be just 1 extra vehicle / minute in Cock Lane. This is not the ‘material increase in traffic flows’ that Jacobs say would necessitate an upgrade to / widening of Cock Lane.
b. Other sections of the Jacobs’ report indicate Jacobs’ preference for the Spine Road to be primarily for the benefit of the local residents and not be such to encourage the use by through traffic.
c. Re Hammersley Lane: While the incremental flows (10 / hour + 30 / hour from Parcel 1) are not significant, any infrastructure to allow Parcel 1 to access Hammersley Lane at such a geographically constrained point would have a major impact on an already jammed up roadway, so Parcel 1 should connect only to the Spine Road, not to Hammersley Lane.
d. Jacobs’ own data shows that the AM peak hour flow on the minor road that is Hammersley Lane is already as heavy as the 520 vehicles / hour heading east out of High Wycombe on the A404 main road.
e. An additional attachment (Cock Lane) was provided to the visitors for fuller explanation of the Jacobs overall conclusion (no widening of Cock Lane) and listed the benefits of linking the Spine Road to Cock Lane at the ‘Christmas Tree’ section of the lane, not at the top of the Spine Road, so that the upper part of the Spine Road becomes a cul-de-sac, protecting new residents from through traffic.
f. Gerry King then provided high level insights into the data on vehicle numbers, through traffic v local traffic, use of Cock Lane and Hammersley Lane. The issue of HGVs using these lands. He quoted from reports suggesting that the widening of Cock Lane was not needed, and also suggested the spine road concludes at the ‘ Christmas tree’ section of Cock Lane. Please see the attached papers for all the details
3. Peter Miller then provided the data on the issues around access to Penn School, ( thanks to Peter for his notes)
a. For nearly 100 years Penn School has been a Special School supporting a maximum of 100 pupils plus 40-50 members of staff
b. The purchase of the site by the EFA was made with the intention of opening a new 5 or 6 form of entry secondary school for up to 1000 pupils (which would also need about 150 staff) i.e. an order of magnitude bigger in terms of traffic movements
c. The WDC planning note from Dec 2015 significantly restricts car parking on the school site which would result in extensive rogue parking in the vicinity of the school
d. Bucks CC is providing less bus transport resulting in more car journeys
e. Most pupils would travel to this school from Wycombe – exacerbating traffic flows in Hammersley Lane, Cock Lane and through the Hazlemere crossroads
f. In addition, a large proportion of Y13 students drive their own cars and this would add to parking problems in the area
g. There is a single, narrow access from the school site onto the B474 where there are dangerous blind bends in both directions
h. Buses and HGVs cannot pass easily on this stretch of the B474 without doing damage to property on either side
i. There is limited footpath provision and no street lighting in the area
j. The site is very close to the Londis shop, JJ’s cafe and the First School – all of which present additional traffic and parking hazards
k. A decision on the Wave 12 free school applications is due be made by April 2017 and so Bucks CC Highways comments on the suitability of the site from a Highways perspective would be very timely and helpful as input to this decision.
4. In addition there were a number further points made
a. Traffic flow, including the increase due to the new developments does not justify it widening the road
b. The spine road should service the developments and not encourage a through route
c. The green ‘ pathway’ from the bottom of Gomm Valley to Ashwells should continue to Kingswood without a 2 way road intersecting it.
d. The issue of HGVs travelling on Cock Lane / Hammersley lane were raised and a request for improved signage at the top and bottom of the lanes. ( seemed a welcome comment)
e. Noted that Aldi will be built on A40 (B&Q site ) so will increase traffic on A40
f. Comment made of lack of development on infrastructure with all the additional homes, businesses along the A40
g. Hammersley Lane, lacks a footpath under the railway line & dangerous footpath at the PTG end
h. The issue of Junction 3 & improving Junctions 3-5
Gerry King circulated an additional paper at the end of the meeting on the broader picture concerning the level of excessive out-of-area traffic flows on the life and activity of the village, again based on reports by Jacobs. These show that:
a. Every morning at peak hour around 1800 to 2000 vehicles / hour flow into and through our small village trying to find their way through to the main roads (A40 & A404), about 4 times the level of traffic generated by the village itself (460 vehicles / hour peak flow).
b. The village has to suffer the same level of total through flow as that heading east out of HW on the A40, a major trunk road.
c. Hammersley Lane suffers as heavy a flow load as the A404 main road east out of Hazlemere (520/hr).
The paper asked BCC to find ways to mitigate the traffic blight on our village caused by these excessive out-of-area flows ….and even suggested a route for a bypass.
5. Comments from Mark Shaw
a. Advised that BCC had formally written to WDC & CDC expressing their concern about the unsustainable proposed development on horsefields ( they had reviewed the South Bucks/CDC Green Belt consultation and queried 5 GB sites including Horsefields)
b. The BCC Transport Select Committee is analysing the issue of school transport for the whole county and will be reporting to Cabinet by the end of March.
c. We understand that Mark has made 2 visits to Pimms Grove via invitations from the Pimms Grove Action Group.
d. Comment that work will be done at Handy Cross and that the Junc 3a will continue to be debated.