LETTER: Evidence is being ‘retro-fitted’

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There has been increasing concern about the capacity of the infrastructure to cope with the impact of all these new houses and commercial premises included in the Preferred Strategy of a council led by Cllrs Ray Dawe, Claire Vickers, Helena Croft and Jim Rae. Of particular concern is traffic.

Authentic traffic assessments were not done when the public consultation was launched last summer. There were glaring omissions not least an up-to-date traffic assessment for the A24/A264 corridor linking to the M23/A23 major north-south route.

Horsham District Council stated (20/3/14) in response to an Freedom of Information request (FOI) that ‘the Horsham District Transport and Development Strategy…is still in the course of completion’. This is expected by the end of April 2014. So evidence about current traffic flows for north Horsham is still in the process of being gathered. This means that when the draft Preferred Strategy was approved by the council at summer and put out for public consultation, the council led by Cllr Dawe had no idea what the impact of the Liberty plan would have on traffic infrastructure.

But then consultants were appointed to do ‘impact assessments’ to get appropriate evidence to support the plan. A sort of ‘retro-fitting’ procedure – quite the opposite to good planning practice.

In answer to a FOI to Mole Valley District (MVDC), we were sent the Consultancy Brief for the Transport Assessment being carried out currently by Horsham District Council (HDC). The study isn’t one of those studies where a cable is placed across roads and every movement is counted and categorised for 24 hours 7 days a week. Rather, it is a computer modelling exercise. The base point is a survey done on 2009!

In addition to the age of the base information, even more surprising is that the basis of the modelling will be traffic between 08.00am and 09.00am on weekdays.

But Department for Transport Traffic Surveys (http:/www.gov.uk/traffic-counts/ http://www.dft.gov.uk/traffic-counts/area.php?region=South+East&la=West+Sussex) are carried out annually by Department for Transport in West Sussex. The file AADF Download has the data for all West Sussex traffic counts carried out from 2000 to 2012. There are specific count points on major roads. These count points are the same year on year and therefore the data shows accurate changes. The count at each specified location is a 1 day count between 07.00am and 19.00pm hours (in both directions). Surveys are conducted between mid-March and early October but not during school holidays (or during any major road works).

Data for 2011 and 2012: The data is the total volume of all vehicle types in both directions – The Total Flow:

l A24 at Rookwood Roundabout, West if Horsham

2011: 39,901

2012: 45,259

This shows a 13.4 per cent increase

l A264 Faygate, North of Horsham

2011: 40,150

2012: 46,182

This shows a 15 per cent increase in just one year

So why are councillors Dawe, Croft, Vickers and Rae spending tax payer’s money on this modelling exercise?

Do they want to get a more favourable set of results retro-fitted? A modelling exercise based upon out of date figures (2009) is, in my view, useless. It is clear from these two sets of figures that the trend is dramatically up and few of the houses have been built yet. It wouldn’t be beyond the wit of HDC planners to project these figures forward taking into account the number of cars likely per new house and estimations of traffic additions with a 600 space car park for the Parkway Station that will never happen, large supermarket, the mortuary and hearses, lorry output from the 500,000 sq ft of industrial units and the existing Brookhurst Wood developments.

Perhaps Cllr Dawe in his fortnightly piece will explain?

J P Houghton

Owlscastle Close, Horsham