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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 30th November, 2011

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation

 

Highway Adoption - Rhoose Point

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To seek the agreement of Cabinet to progress the formal adoption of all highways at Rhoose Point.

Recommendations

1.             That Cabinet give authority to the Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration and the Director of Legal and Public Protection in consultation with the Cabinet Members for Visible Services and Planning and Transportation to progress the adoption of all highways at Rhoose Point.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To bestow responsibility on the Council for the future management and maintenance of the highways at Rhoose Point and to permit the provision of a fuller range of services to residents of the development.

Background

2.             There have been many reports over recent years concerning highways and drainage matters on this development.

3.             The most recent report was concerning Land Transfer Matters and was considered at the meeting of Cabinet of 21st February 2011 (Minute C1231 refers).  Previous to this a report detailing 'Land Transfers, Drainage and Highway Matters' was considered on 21st July 2010 (Minute C1002 refers).

4.             The land transfers were completed on 20 October, 2011 and registration formalities are now being progressed.  This report seeks to conclude the other main outstanding matters of highway and drainage adoptions.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.             Members will recall from previous reports that highway adoption is not progressed unless the sewers that run beneath the highways are first transferred to Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water (DCWW).  The main reason for this is that utility companies are bound by legislation to properly reinstate highways should there be a problem with a sewer that necessitates the excavation of any part of the highway.

6.             In addition, the refusal to adopt highways until the sewers are transferred puts pressure on the developer to conclude their agreements with DCWW more promptly and to ensure that all sewers are of sufficient standard and design for adoption.  In the case of Rhoose Point, as the developer, Cofton Group Ltd, and certain subsidiaries are in administration, there is no such 'leverage' to be gained by delaying adoption of the highway.

7.             The 21st July 2011 report gave authority to officers to use an element of the £75k Section 106 monies for Rhoose Point for any matters relating to the development.  The report suggested that a sum of up to £35k may be required to progress drainage adoption (foul and surface water).  This drainage adoption work has not been progressed due to delays in the land transfers for the Lagoon area.  Also, officers were aware of the plans at that time (21st July, 2011) for the automatic adoption of most private sewers by DCWW, scheduled for October 1st this year.

8.             Whilst there was some concern at the time of the last report that this process may have been delayed or even postponed, I am able to confirm that the vast majority of private sewers throughout the Vale of Glamorgan have now been adopted, including the gravity foul water sewers at Rhoose Point.  The pumping station and rising main from this station to the main DCWW pumping station has not yet been adopted, though it is planned that responsibility for these will also transfer to DCWW automatically before 1st October 2016.

9.             As has been mentioned in previous reports, whilst there are some minor technical issues with the highway design for Rhoose Point, the highways are substantially complete and ready for adoption.  It should however be noted that whilst the gravity foul water sewers have been adopted, the separate surface water system (that drains into the Lagoon) has not.  Neither has the foul water rising main or pumping station, as previously mentioned.

10.        As it currently stands, residents are responsible for the highways (not street lighting which is already adopted by us) the pumping station, rising main and the surface water drainage system.

11.        Since the adoption of the foul water sewers, the risks to this Council of highway adoption have substantially reduced.  There could be a problem with the surface water system, though this is much less likely than a problem with a foul water system.  The pumping station is already being managed and maintained by the Council, utilising funds that we hold from the 106 Agreements, and there has not been any reported issues with the pumping station rising main.

12.        In addition, it would be appropriate to take responsibility at least in part for the surface water drains now (the highway drains through this system) as we are now responsible for the Lagoons, and importantly, their water quality.  If Cabinet are minded to progress adoption of the highways now, officers propose to progress an application to DCWW for adoption of the surface water drainage system.

13.        At the time of adoption of the highways, the surface water drainage system will be in 'part' private ownership with responsibility shared between this Council as Highway Authority (highway drainage) and all residents of the development who connect to the system.

14.        Any costs or risks associated with this system prior to its adoption by DCWW will be borne proportionately by the Council and residents.  However, as the system has now been in operation successfully for over 5 years, the risk is considered to be minimal.

15.        On adoption, residents of the development will receive all 'Visible Services', and this will include the additional services of street cleansing, highway maintenance including weed spraying, litter bin clearance, bus shelter cleaning and grass cutting.  The Council already provides refuse collection and street cleansing services along with street lighting and winter maintenance.

16.        There is concern that the highway network at Rhoose Point is not currently benefiting from any form of preventative maintenance.  Therefore, the highway asset is deteriorating and the longer it takes for the Council to progress adoption the greater the risk of costs being incurred to bring the highways up to an adoptable standard.  This is particularly the case with weed growth, which if left unchecked, can damage the highway structure.

17.        There are no additional maintenance costs resulting from this proposal in excess of those that had always been envisaged.  Members will be aware that the highways and land on this development were always to transfer to this Council on the development's completion.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

18.        The total Section 106 contributions of £75k are more than sufficient to cover any additional liabilities arising from this proposal.  An element of this funding will be used to progress the surface water adoption process and to continue the maintenance arrangements for the sewage pumping station and rising main until their transfer to DCWW.  Subject to the adoption of all remaining drainage facilities i.e. pumping station, rising main, surface water system prior to 1st October 2016, it is not envisaged that these costs will exceed more than £20k.  (The estimate for outstanding works in the Cabinet report of 21st July was £35k).  The remaining funds will be available for other uses on the development as appropriate.

19.        The additional 'Visible Services' referred to in this report will be provided at Rhoose Point from within the existing budgets.  This is the case with all new housing developments, recent examples being; Cogan Hall Farm in Penarth and the Pencoedtre development in Barry.  Whilst commuted sums are sometimes available, these are generally for non-standard highway and outdoor recreation features.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

20.        Adoption of the highways will be progressed in conjunction with the relevant landowners including the Administrators acting on behalf of Cofton Group Ltd.  The Administrators have previously indicated that they would be prepared to support this adoption process.

21.        The adoption mechanism is likely to be either section 38 or section 228 of the Highways Act 1980.  This is being reviewed and will be decided on shortly.

22.        The Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration has delegated authority to "adopt roads including highway structures, on completion to the Council's specification".  In this case an Executive decision is required as the Council's specification as regards to the full adoption of drainage has not been met.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23.        There have been a number of issues concerning inconsiderate and inappropriate vehicle use on the highways at Rhoose Point.  The progression of adoption will allow the Council to consider the introduction of Traffic Regulation Orders to assist in controlling such matters.  They will in addition permit improved enforcement by the Police and also, in the future, the Council's own Civil Parking Enforcement Officers.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

24.        None

 

Corporate/Service Objectives

25.        The issues contained within this report assist in improving the environment and the quality of life for residents of and visitors to the Vale of Glamorgan.  This contributed to the corporate objective of environmental improvement and economic regeneration.

Policy Framework and Budget

26.        This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

27.        The local ward Members have been consulted on this report and are in agreement with the recommendation.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

28.        Economy and Environment

Background Papers

Report to Cabinet of 21st July 2010 (C1002)

'Rhoose Point - Update on Land Transfers, Drainage and Highways Matters'

 

Report to Cabinet of 21st February 2011 (C1231)

'Rhoose Point - Land Transfer Matters'

 

Contact Officer

Miles Punter, Head of Visible Services Tel:  No. 02920 673 101

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager, Legal Services

Accountant, Building and Visible Services

Group Estates Officer

Head of Planning and Transportation

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Quick, Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration