Planning and Economic Development Portfolio
To consider report PES/338 of the Head of Economy and Planning, which was referred to the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 9 March 2020.
This report will be included in a supplementary agenda.
The Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development presented report of the Head of Economy and Planning. In presenting the report to the Cabinet, they were reminded that there had been a Petition, submitted on this issue and a debate on the Petition along with a Notice of Motion at Full Council held on 26 February 2020. As a result, the Cabinet must have due regard to the petition and the views expressed during the debates onThree Bridges Station Improvement Scheme and issue of the ‘No Right-Hand Turn’ when considering the recommendations before them.
Councillor P Smith stated that this whole project of Three Bridges Station Improvement Scheme was essentially a forecourt project with a highway’s element.
Crawley Borough Council (CBC) was the lead authority for the project, including responsibility for the programme management activities as part of the Crawley Growth Programme. The whole project was in partnership with West Sussex CC Highways, Coast 2 Capital LEP, Network Rail, Metrobus, GTR, and the Council.
Whilst CBC was the lead authority, it was not responsible for every aspect of the project, with each of the partners still retaining their decision making for each area of their own responsibility. WSCC Highways, retained the responsibility for the highway’s elements of the design and CBC had to follow their advice and decisions and incorporate them into the final overall design.
The Cabinet were reminded that the Council had consulted as extensively and reasonably as possible on all our planning and economic development projects since 2014, and it was right to do, as our residents were our customers and we need to listen to them as the users of the projects we will be delivering. On Three Bridges Station Improvement Scheme, CBC, as the lead partner for the scheme, had gone out of our way to consult with all interested groups, including the taxi drivers (part of whose livelihood can depend on Three Bridges station), as well as Metrobus, the Town Access Group, the Walking and Cycling Forum and others but most importantly the public. Three extensive consultations were run, involving brochures, FAQs, traffic modelling, and all of this was on a dedicated website for the project. Every question that has been asked was on the website, even those questions that we haven’t been able to provide a satisfactorily answer. Throughout the project the team have listened to and considered every single possibility including putting the eastern access from Station Hill into the project as that was a direct result of consultation, in particular with Maidenbower Ward Councillors. It was not in the original scope and would cost significantly more, but it was recognised that it is a good idea and something that would improve the options for our residents and users over how they will travel to and from the station. It was noted that at the request of the Maidenbower Councillors, further traffic modelling was done. This showed it was not an option to put in a pick-up and drop-off point on Station Hill, as it had a negative impact on traffic flow and also on the cost. These are two examples demonstrating how the CBC lead project team had taken suggestions on board and investigated them further.
It was noted that the improvement scheme had two elements – the forecourt element and the highways element. As a forerunner to this scheme the traffic lights were changed by WSCC as part of the Crawley Growth Programme, and the Cycleway schemes were installed on Station Hill and Worth Park Avenue, which were part of a wider programme of work driven by improving sustainable transport options. The highways element includes provisions that will allow people to cross the road safely and walk or cycle under the bridge, which currently was not technically safe to do.
Cabinet Members were informed that the Crawley Growth Programme has recognised the major importance of WSCC and CBC working together with project teams with Cabinet members from both Councils meeting regularly and listening to each other – it’s about having an excellent working relationship despite any political differences. It has been positively approached by all and was for the benefit of our joint community, as they were the people who own Three Bridges station - we just have the privilege of improving it for them. As a result of this positive relationship, we have worked with experts, technicians, contractors, traffic engineers, etc. We can confidently say we have exhausted all possibilities on the right turn. Everybody involved would ideally like to retain the right turn. It’s something that was good for a small number of people. But we’ve looked in detail at 12 options for the design, with WSCC Highways looking at the traffic modelling, and have not found a solution that will work to retain the right turn.
Councillor P Smith commented that going forward all 36 CBC Councillors and the 9 Crawley WSCC Councillors need to look at this scheme as a town wide initiative to improve a major station in the town. This is for the benefit of the average of 8000 people that use the station every day, including those arriving by car, bus or rail from elsewhere for work, pedestrians, cyclists, and those with children and access difficulties. Peak traffic volume is 3000 vehicles per hour moving east and west, with 128 of those turning right. This is typical of all periods of the year except at Christmas and for a time during the school summer holidays. This represents 4% of movements through the space using the right turn, during the morning peak it’s 2% turning right.
It was recognised that some journeys may take longer. They probably won’t take as long as people are worried they will. But it would benefit everyone else by reducing all other journey times. As a project lead CBC have done our best to listen to residents, local groups, Councillors, and those who have communicated with the project team. We’ve come up with a scheme that meets the majority of requirements, and it’s a shame that some may have longer journeys, but nobody was being prevented from accessing the station - they just might have to consider taking an alternative route.
In concluding of presenting the report, Councillor Smith informed the Cabinet that the recommendations were to ask West Sussex CC highways to have a further look at the scheme and confirm if there were or not any other options, and decide how to proceed after that. He commented that he hoped his detailed presentation of the report covers all the issues that the petitioners raised, and those matters Councillors mentioned during an interesting debate at the last meeting of the Full Council.
Councillor Rana presented the Overview and Scrutiny Commission’s comments on the report to the Cabinet following consideration of the matter at its meeting on 9 March 2020. In doing so she read out the Commission comments as detailed in report which was provided to the Cabinet, in doing so she emphasised that the Commission agreed to unanimously support the recommendations. The Commission also confirmed that they felt the report provided an extraordinary amount of detail on the project and thanked the officers for their hard work on the Three Bridges Station project.
Councillors Lamb, Mullins and Irvine all spoke as part of the in-depth discussion on the report and in support of the scheme. A question was raised during the debate as to whether the Cabinet request of a public response from West Sussex CC would be obtainable by the deadline on 1 July.
The Leader of the Council invited Councillor Crow, who indicated that he would like to speak on this item and in doing so Councillor Crow commented that with his knowledge of West Sussex CC, he was quite sure that the decision would be delegated to an officer with expert knowledge of traffic management to make the decision over whether a right hand turn would be possible. Also he would be quite confident that the County Council would be able to respond to the Cabinet’s request by the 1 July. The Leader thanked Councillor Crow for his assistance.
That the Cabinet having confirmed that it has considered
· the outcome of three separate public consultation exercises undertaken on the Three Bridges Station improvement scheme,
· the Petition signed by 1000 individuals entitled “No Right Turn - Three Bridges Station Objection’ and presented to and debated by Full Council on 26th February 2020
· the request contained within the Notice of Motion approved by Full Council at its meeting held on 26 February 2020
· all other forecast impacts associated with the Three Bridges Station Improvement Scheme proposals, as detailed within report,
a) approve the principles and the design for the Three Bridges Station Improvement Scheme as set out within the except in relation to the highways aspect of the scheme, in particular the proposed “No Right Hand Turn” out of the station, which is the responsibility of West Sussex County Council as the Highway Authority to determine.
b) pass responsibility for determining a decision on the “No Right Hand Turn” to West Sussex County Council as Highways Authority and in doing so requesting that the Highway Authority take the necessary action to identify a viable alternative option for retaining the right hand turn as requested by the above petition. If no viable option for maintaining the right hand turn out of the station can be identified, then West Sussex County Council are asked to confirm this.
c) request that West Sussex County Council, as the Highway Authority, makes a clear public decision over ‘the right hand turn out of Three Bridges station’, by 1 July 2020. Including within that public decision:
· whether to continue with the Scheme in its current recommended design or to provide an alternative scheme design to retain the right hand turn out of Three Bridges station, based on either a viable modified version of the previously considered Option 3 as detailed in the Traffic Modelling Summary dated January 2020, or on similar viable alternatives and
· confirm that if an alternative scheme becomes the preferred option that further public consultation would take place before West Sussex County Council approves the final scheme.
d) confirm that if a clear public decision is not made by 1 July 2020 then Crawley Borough Council, as the lead partner for the Three Bridges Station Improvement Scheme, on behalf of the Crawley Growth Programme, will presume that, the current recommended design option contained within the with no right turn is the Highway Authority’s approved option and as such will continue with this scheme, which is part of the Crawley Growth Programme as agreed with West Sussex County Council and the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership.
e) confirm it will support the ultimate decision taken by West Sussex County Council over the right hand turn, e.g. continue with the scheme design in its current recommended format or select an alternative scheme design, retaining the right hand turn, which would be developed by West Sussex County Council (Highway Authority), subject to a further public consultation exercise.
f) confirm that in accordance with the above being resolved, to:
i) approves the addition of £89,000 of Section 106 monies to the Three Bridges Station Improvement scheme, which is part of the Crawley Growth Programme.
ii) delegates authority to the Head of Economy and Planning in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development to submit a planning application for the final scheme and undertake, subject to planning permission, a procurement exercise for the scheme, in accordance with the Council’s Procurement Code, to recommend a suitable contractor with the appointment of the contractor requiring Cabinet approval.
iii) delegates the negotiation and approval of the terms of all relevant legal documentation to the Head of Economy and Planning, Head of Legal, Democracy and HR and Head of Corporate Finance, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development. (Generic delegation 2 and 3 will be used to enact this recommendation).
g) note that all matters relating to the designs for the Three Bridges Station Improvement Scheme are subject to planning permission being granted.
Reasons for the Recommendations
The proposed scheme seeks to support the following aims of the Crawley Growth Programme, of which the Three Bridges Station Improvement Scheme is part
· Improve significantly the quality of sustainable transport infrastructure (bus, cycle routes and pedestrian walkways) and
· Achieve major bus, cycle and pedestrian connectivity enhancements at 3 of Crawley’s 4 railway stations – Crawley, Gatwick and Three Bridges.
The scheme will deliver this by creating a brand new station entrance off Station Hill and improving pedestrian, bus user and cyclist access into and exiting from the station, transforming the station forecourt public realm and strengthening sustainable transport connections to benefit both local residents and commuters to Manor Royal and all parts of Crawley. It will also provide dedicated and upgraded taxi waiting and public drop off / pick up zones.
The recommendations take into account the full debate by Members on the petition and the debate on the Council motion that took place at Full Council on the 26 February, which are explained in detail in section 5 of this report.
West Sussex County Council is asked to make a public decision as described in 2.2b and c above by 1 July 2020 at the latest to ensure that the Three Bridges Station improvement scheme can then progress in accordance with the Crawley Growth Programme delivery timeline agreed with the Local Enterprise Partnership.