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‘Safe’ is also a state of mind

March 14, 2021 4:21 PM
By Peter Dobbs
Derby Road

Derby Road where pedestrians would have to cross

When it comes to the DCC Highway Authority it seems that what is 'safe' is related to how many people have been killed or injured in a given stretch of highway. It does not appear to be in any way related to how the average person feels as they attempt to cross that highway or ride a bike along it. We believe that at a time when we are encouraging as many people as possible to leave the car at home in order to tackle climate change, those involved in transport planning should take seriously the need to make people feel safe when walking, cycling or taking public transport.

The 'power' of DCC Highways in planning applications should not be underestimated and we challenge them to re-think their approach just as we challenge the Tories in government to cease being the developer's friend and pay more heed to local people.

Case Study in Ashbourne Derbyshire

One of the many green field sites surrounding Ashbourne was given outline planning permission for housing around 2017. It had an application made in November 2020 so that the detail of that development could be approved. In this application it was clear that anyone leaving this development on foot would immediately have to cross the very busy Derby Road (40 mph speed limit).

There is only a pavement on the north side of this road - the opposite side to the estate.

To make matters worse if you need to catch a bus to Ashbourne or walk to Hilltop School you would also have to cross the road again!

This application came before the DDDC Planning Committee in March 2021 and there was much debate about the issue of road safety.

Local resident and Lib Dem member Peter Dobbs spoke to the Committee about the pedestrian safety issues before the application was presented. Cllr Sue Burfoot (Lib Dem) commented during the debate that 'nobody was going to feel safe crossing this road on foot and the result would be that people will simply get into their cars to take their children to school. This is not what 'sustainable development was supposed to mean'.

Despite the strength of feeling that the current arrangements were far from satisfactory the application was approved - just. There was a tied vote with the Chair (Con) making the casting vote in favour.

None of those voting in favour of the application were from Ashbourne - all were Tories apart from one independent (who always votes with the Tories).