Crossing to nowhere
Berkeley Homes have created a regulated pedestrian crossing to nowhere, as part of the changes to the road infrastructure for the Hawkenbury Farm Development.
In July 2017, Berkeley Homes submitted a planning application to the TWBC detailing road layout changes that would need to be made to facilitate the development. One of those changes was a regulated pedestrian crossing across Hawkenbury Road, outside numbers 58 and 60 Hawkenbury Road. A regulated pedestrian crossing is one with lollipop lights and it will link the Recreation Ground to the new school site. This planning application is still pending approval.
The Hawkenbury Village Association raised concerns with the planning officer at TWBC. Our primary concerns were that:
- The road level was a metre below the level of the footpath in the Recreation Ground.
- The rest of the park is gated, but no provision was made to gate the pedestrian crossing.
- There was not much refuge to the sides and small children could emerge from behind the hedgerow without being seen by oncoming motorists.
We did not receive a reply and we expected that our concerns would be dealt with when the planning application was approved.
On Friday, 24 November 2017, a large 6 metre hole was cut in the hedge opposite the drive for 60 Hawkenbury Road. All the established hedgerow was removed and a large opening was left. Coinford, who are responsible for the groundworks, had created the opening into the Recreation ground in the wrong place.
The HVA contacted the local planning officer, our local councillors and the Head of Parks about this hole. The Planning Department replied that the hole was indeed for the pedestrian crossing and it was in the correct location. This turned out to be incorrect as Coinford soon had their gardening services on site to replace some of the plants in the hedgerow. It is going to take years for the hedge to recover and we had to request that fencing be erected to stop children and dogs running out of the path.
A few weeks later, Coinford returned and constructed the pedestrian crossing further along Hawkenbury Road, without planning permission. They made another sizeable hole in the hedge next to the one that they made in November. Once the pedestrian crossing was finished, it was quite clear that it was not going to be much use to anyone. There was no ramp to allow mobility scooters or disabled users to access the park, there were no steps up into the park and the pedestrian crossing leads straight into the bank. The area is not gated, so small children and dogs would have free rein to run into road. After they climbed down, of course. With the rain we had at the start of the year, drainage also became an issue and the pedestrian crossing was soon covered with water, making it impassable.
The bank started collapsing soon after the crossing was installed and Berkeley Homes had to shore up the footpath to prevent it falling into the opening they had created.
5 months on and numerous complaints to the council planners and our local councillors, the situation is no closer to a conclusion. Berkeley Homes seem adamant that they have completed their obligation in line with the planning application, even though permission was not granted. We believe the argument is now about who is going to fund the integration of the pedestrian crossing into the park. We suspect it will fall on our shoulders, as taxpayers, again.
We’ll update you when we have more news from the council.