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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 23 September, 2013

Report of the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation.

Enhancement of the shared walking and cycling path along the route of the disused railway line in Penarth.

Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide Members with an update on the development of the scheme undertaken to date.

2.         To seek approval of the preferred scheme and commencement of works

Recommendations

1.         That the progress made to date be noted.

2.         That Cabinet authorise the Director of Development Services, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation, to approve the preferred scheme as indicated in the report and agree the commencement of works.

3.         That delegated authority be granted to the Director of Development Services in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation to agree any necessary amendments to the scheme during the implementation.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To provide a full update on the proposal.

2.         To enable works to commence in order to meet the programme requirements.

3.         To enable any necessary amendments to the scheme to be approved and implemented.

Background

3.         Members will be aware that in 2010 -11 funding was received from the South East Wales Transport Alliance (Sewta) to undertake the design work associated with enhancing the existing walking and cycling route known as Railway Walk in Penarth, including the bridge accesses, to cater for the needs of a wider variety of users (walkers, shoppers, school children, walking and cycling commuters, buggies, wheel chairs and disabled scooters). Possible cycle routes in the Vale of Glamorgan have been reviewed over many years. Initial work took place in 2004 and following a procurement exercise Sustrans were appointed in 2008 to carry out a study and produce advice on a preferred set of routes for the National Cycle Network in the Vale. As part of an agreement between the Vale of Glamorgan Council, Cardiff County Council and Sustrans to fund the Pont y Werin scheme a network of routes in Penarth was agreed and work, to date, has centred on those routes. The current scheme is one of those identified in the 2008 study.

4.         The route is seen as an important element of the developing network of walking and cycling routes across the Vale of Glamorgan and funding to implement the scheme is being provided by the Welsh Government, via Sewta, in this financial year. The scheme has been peer reviewed by officers within Sewta as part of the approval process.

5.         The scheme has received a varied response from local residents and there has been local opposition to the scheme proposals particularly in relation to the section of the route that abuts Sully Terrace. In response to these concerns and in order to address the large amounts of misinformation that had been circulating about the scheme, on  the 11th, 13th and 14th June, I and relevant officers attended an exhibition of the scheme plans (developed to that date) in order to answer questions  from the residents and public relating to the scheme. Officers also produced a handout which sought to provide responses to the frequently asked questions that had been received via correspondence and that handout is attached at Appendix B. A range of opinions were heard at the meetings both for and against the scheme and these are outlined below. The scheme now proposed had been amended following engagement with the local residents.

6.         An application for a Certificate of Lawful Development was submitted to the Planning Department in order to clarify whether or not the scheme can be commenced by the Council via its use of its permitted development rights. A determination relating to that application was made by the Planning Committee on 5th September and that decision confirmed that the scheme would not require the submission of a planning application.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.         The scheme itself seeks to improve this existing walking and cycling route which already forms part of a network of routes in Penarth. This off road route was assessed by Sustrans, on behalf of the Council, in 2008 as part of a review of National Cycleway Network routes and a feasibility study was undertaken by the Council's Highways and Engineering Design Group in 2011. The latter report recommended, in line with National Guidance, that a resurfacing of the route would allow for a greater range of users to benefit from it. Officers consider that the enhancement of the route will encourage further modal shift away from the car in line with National Policy and encourage usage by all.  In outline, the scheme seeks to link        the town centre with Cosmeston along the former railway line.  The scheme involves the provision of an all-weather surface in the form of tarmac and will run for a length of approximately 2 kilometres.  Other elements of the scheme include the provision of some repairs to a bridge on the route where pedestrian access linking to the scheme can be improved.  As stated below, on land abutting Sully Terrace the scheme has incorporated a resin bound surface in place of tarmac to ensure that the impact of the proposal is minimised.

8.         In response to the scheme a number of people have written in objecting to the proposal for all sorts of reasons, the main reasons  being:

·               The scheme proposal being 2.5m wide and to be predominantly surfaced in tarmac.

·               The impact of the scheme on the existing habitat.

·               The impact of the scheme on the area of parkland at Sully Terrace.

·               The perceived risk of flooding.

·               The perceived risk of speeding cyclists.

·               The conflict it could create in terms of the mix of users

·               The lack of consultation and baseline data showing a need for this improvement work.

9.         As stated above a number of responses to the questions and concerns raised are included in the handout in Appendix B.

10.      In addition and also of relevance is the fact that in progressing the design of the scheme and in response to some of the residents concerns the proposal now  incorporates a change from tarmac to a resin bonded surface for the section of the route which runs through the grassed area at Sully Terrace.

11.      Furthermore, an additional habitat review and a tree survey is being carried out to ensure adherence to the most appropriate route and construction methodology . The additional habitat review and tree survey are being carried out to ensure minimal impact on biodiversity as a result of the scheme and for the Health and Safety of footpath/cycleway users. To ensure construction methodology is adhered to will require ecological supervision of the works.

12.      The objectors to the scheme have submitted an application for the grassed area at Sully Terrace to be considered a village green. That application is being dealt with by the Council's Legal team and a separate report dealing with that matter will be taken to the Licencing Committee in due course.

13.      In Policy terms the proposal contributes to the achievement of a number of national and local policy initiatives. The Welsh Assembly Government aims to encourage more people to walk and cycle more safely and more often. The Cycling and Walking Action Plan explains how they and their partners are supporting walking and cycling in Wales. The key objectives here are to:

·               Improve the health and well being of Wales through increased physical activity;

·               Improve the local environment for walkers and cyclists;

·               Encourage sustainable travel to combat climate change;

·               Increase levels of walking and cycling through promotion of facilities; and

·               Ensure that walking and cycling are prioritised in policies, guidance and funding.

14.      The Active Travel (Wales) Bill was laid in the National Assembly for Wales on the 18 February 2013.The Bill will require local authorities to continuously improve facilities and routes for pedestrians and cyclists and to prepare maps identifying current and potential future routes for their use. The Bill will also require new road schemes (including road improvement schemes) to consider the needs of pedestrians and cyclists at design stage

15.      National Transport Plan, Welsh Assembly Government, 2010.The Wales Transport Strategy establishes the framework for the creation of an integrated transport system to deliver One Wales. The National Transport Plan takes forward the process of delivering integration. It builds on previous plans, adding and integrating public and community transport, walking and cycling so that investments made help to deliver One Wales. The National Transport Plan sits alongside the Regional Transport Plans in delivering the Wales Transport Strategy.

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16.      Sustainable Tourism: A Framework For Wales, Welsh Assembly Government, 2007. The purpose of this sustainable tourism framework is to outline what sustainable development means for the tourism sector in Wales. Its purpose is to guide those involved in promoting and developing tourism in the public, private and voluntary sectors, nationally, regionally and locally to ensure that the tourism industry contributes to sustainable development in Wales.

17.      Coastal Tourism Strategy, Welsh Assembly Government, 2008.The preparation of a Coastal Tourism Strategy was identified as one of the key national actions within the Wales Spatial Plan. The purpose of the Coastal Tourism Strategy is to identify a clear way forward for the development of Coastal Tourism, which realises and builds on the economic potential of the coastline of Wales whilst respecting its environmental quality and recognising the importance of achieving community benefits. The strategy provides spatial guidance for the future allocation of funds to support coastal tourism in the regions of Wales through the Spatial Plan.

18.      South East Wales Transport Alliance Regional Transport Plan, March 2010. The Transport Wales Act required the then Welsh Assembly Government (now Welsh Government) to produce a Wales Transport Strategy, and gave it new powers to promote regional transport planning and take direct control of local and regional rail services in Wales. The Welsh Assembly Government approved a Regulatory Order to remove the requirement for the twenty-two local authorities in Wales to produce Local Transport Plans and instead, introduced the requirement for Regional Transport Plans (RTPS) to be prepared by the four Transport Consortia. The RTP has been produced by Sewta, working together with industry partners, and Welsh Assembly Government, with the aim of the first RTP being to improve regional transport in South East Wales and help deliver the social, economic and environmental objectives of the Wales Spatial Plan and the Wales Transport Strategy. The RTP promotes a balanced programme of investment and support for all modes of travel; a programme of interventions which interlace transport planning with land-use and public service planning and balances the conflicting requirements of protecting the environment, addressing problems of social exclusion and promoting the economy.

19.      At the local level the aims of the Council are set out in its Corporate Plan. This proposal supports the aims of promoting sustainability, equality, regeneration, environment and health and wellbeing by promoting modal shift to walking and cycling.

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

20.      Each year the Council bids to Sewta for funding to support the development of infrastructure to support modal shift. This scheme has been through the usual process of both development and the peer review process which Sewta undertakes and the funding for the scheme is being provided via a grant of £184,500 from the Welsh Government via Sewta and is available until March 2014.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

21.      The Feasibility report produced in 2011 also includes an Environmental Study by Soltys Brewster which considered baseline environmental conditions, a consideration of the development options and their potential effects and this work has been supplemented by the more recent surveys and reports. The development of a walking and cycling route that can be used by all members of the community will encourage the use of sustainable transport.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

22.      There are no legal implications at this stage.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23.      There are no crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

24.      Equal opportunity issues have been considered in the design phases. The scheme is essential to ensure that the upgraded path is fully accessible to all sectors of the population including cyclists, pedestrians, the disabled and people with buggies and pushchairs.

Corporate/Service Objectives

25.      The proposal would support the Corporate Plan in its promotion of regeneration, sustainability, public health, and the safety of residents in the Vale.

Policy Framework and Budget

26.      This report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

27.      Local Ward Members have been consulted.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

28.      Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

Appendix A. - Scheme layout plans - copy provided on the Councils website and the Members Room.

Appendix B. - Frequently asked questions handout.

 

Contact Officer

John Dent. Major Projects Manager - 01446 704617

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager Legal - Committee Reports

Senior Accountant

Operational Manager for Parks and Ground Maintenance

Operational Manager for Leisure and Tourism

Operational Manager for Planning and Transportation

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas - Director of Development Services

 

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