Presentation to Planning Committee, Caerleon Campus Redrow Application, Wednesday 6th January 2021, Presented by Councillor Jason Hughes jointly with Councillor Gail Giles
A video of the committee meeting will shortly be available for those who were unable to watch the meeting live.
Below is the speech from Councillor Jason Hughes:
Good Morning Chair,
I would like to start by thanking the community groups and residents who have contributed and made representations today.
We would have hoped under normal ~non covid~ conditions that a site visit could have been arranged so members could have witnessed for themselves the key pinch points relevant to this presentation. We would have asked you to visit the College Crescent junction, the road coming down towards Sainsbury’s areas within the High Street, the railway bridge on lodge road and the proposed HGV route from College Glade and areas along this route that we think will present great difficulties for articulated lorries.
A dash cam recording was also presented of this route but restrictions limit our ability to show this and I am thankful for officers for presenting photographs and a video which I know was achieved at very short notice.
I hope that the presentation will give you a flavour of the concerns combined with the reports submitted by Councillor Giles and myself.
Of course as a committee you will previously have already rejected an application on this site, predominantly on air pollution and traffic issues pertaining to health.
The developer will argue that marginable and negligible changes have happened that now justify the development but the reality is nothing has actually changed to justify these assumptions. Where improvements have been made and this would of course be welcomed we would ask how several hundred cars and associated delivery vans on an estate this size would actually continue supporting those improvements
The proposed route has led to a petition where 200 local residents have signed objecting especially to the proposed route. Very few of these residents knew about the route which is indicative of what we see as a poor standard of consultation by the developers Redrow. They have marginally done the bare minimum expected.
You will be presented with reports and graphs drawn up by modelling and computers and people with little understanding of Caerleon’s issue. We ask that you give weight to the reports of local residents and Councillors who live in the locality, have in-depth local knowledge and have consistently argued that this development has serious flaws.
Jason presented a detailed summary of the route with all the potential dangers but especially the first bend on College Glade where the only option for a HGV to pass would be by encouraging residents to park illegally on the pavement, but also the turn in to Eastfield Road which several HGV drivers have said was asking for trouble.
I pointed out that the route is entirely residential in nature and popular with families who have young children. Several points are impassable if resident’s cars are parked along the route.
Importantly and I do not say this lightly-the chances of a serious accident are not in my opinion likely but inevitable over the 6 year period. Redrow are placing their staff and contractors in a terrible position.
On both the access to college glade and lodge Hill there are clear Highway signs recommending no vehicles over 7.5T this development could have articulated lorries of over 40t several times a day. While not illegal someone has previously assessed this route as not suitable for HGV.
One HGV driver told me that this route was utter madness for such large lorries.
An alternative route was suggested via College Crescent but this would require new laws. In the interest of public safety, we ask that this is considered and feel this hasn’t been considered seriously by Redrow so that their show homes along the College Crescent boulevard can be protected. This is placing people’s health second. The entire junction at College Crescent needs to be thought out and improved-this is the perfect opportunity.
A local resident wrote to me this week in despair. She said I find it incredulous that planning could honestly suggest these proposals are not a serious risk to health, safety and the quality of life for local residents.
The resident has a seven-year-old son with severe asthma problems and has poor lung health which requires hospital admissions. His bedroom will be meters from these HGV as they go by.
Air pollution and the impact on on public health needs to be taken seriously-as seriously as Covid. We are reminded of the case of Ella Kissi Debrah whose final years were punctuated by severe asthma attacks. Her inquest concluded her death was as a result of air pollution from near by traffic. Her parents didn’t know the dangers but every person in this room does.
Ella died in a pollution area of 40 yet parts of our high street have average readings of over 50 and highs as much as 82 double the legal maximum. Yes it may be improving but what will be the impact of that slowly gained improvement by adding hundreds of Cars and vans associated with a big estate into the equation. We are told marginable!
By moving from the Centre we risk not solving a problem but moving it.
This is our community and my community-it is where I live and I do not want to see one of our children become another statistic-another Ella; I do not want to hear of a child killed by an accident that could have been prevented.
I say it again the proposed route is utter madness and by not seeing it you have been done a miss service.
Caerleon will hold Redrow and its owners to account over the next 6 years we will not sit back.
Today however we ask the committee to reject this application and fully acknowledge the concerns raised by our community.
Below is the speech from Councillor Gail Giles:
Thank you Chair, thank you too Cllr Hughes for presenting our response to this application and to all our residents who provide such a huge contribution and commitment to this issue.
Well, here I am again, attending Planning Committee on behalf of Caerleon residents as I have done many, many times over the last 17 years and as someone who has lived in Caerleon for nearly 35 years.
And what I am going to say will not come as any surprise because I’m sure you will agree that I have been entirely consistent in my objections to new builds and their associated effects on traffic, air pollution, health and wellbeing of our community.
In fact, it was the first matter I raised in May 2004 as a newly elected Councillor and within a year an Environmental review had been undertaken which has led to the subsequent scientific research over the years. Until recently, of course, planning law did not allow the results to be considered in applications as it is today. And there is now recognition by law with the Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah ruling following the tragic of this 9 year old girl. I very much look forward to that ruling being implemented as soon as possible.
However, the research has resulted in the development of the cycleway which I have continued to push for further extension, an issue I raised with the Chief Executive recently.
Despite my protestations, and having organised many, many meetings including those for residents living in the Air Quality Monitoring areas, public meetings, public exhibitions as well as internal meetings with Environmental and Planning Officers etc.. we are still fighting the same issues. I think it’s fair to say no-one else has done more during those 17 years. We are always welcoming and appreciative of the important contributions by our residents.
Cllr Hughes has set out our objections and concerns and you will have also noted our submission that is set out in the papers so I will not repeat them except to say that, as we have made clear to planning officers, we share residents great concern and anxiety about the proposed route for HGVs and construction traffic. It is really unfortunate that a site visit cannot take place because of all the planning applications I have dealt with this one needs that more than any. Every point that has been made about the narrowness, corners, turns and junctions and unsuitability for large vehicles is correct. People may say that large vehicles such as buses ( infrequently) use the route and I would point out that there have been many incidences of buses for example, who are familiar with the route, knocking down garden walls at the junctions.
(I have taken into account the video shown at this meeting and would query its accuracy given it seems to have been filmed using a car not a HGV.)
I share the Chief Education Officer’s concerns as I personally witnessed issues during the building of the Lodge Hill Primary school which is on this route.
We have made it clear to officers that the route is not acceptable and will without doubt be hugely detrimental to the residents for the very long period of 6 years, and the effect throughout Caerleon should the development be allowed.
It is right that the centre of Caerleon is excluded from the route and I agree with concerns raised about the effect on College Crescent.
Given our ongoing concerns, this application is unacceptable.
This application is therefore unacceptable.