Macclesfield Civic Society
Working for a town to be proud of
Keith Smith – 57 Orme Crescent – Tytherington – Macclesfield – SK10 2HU – 01625 424101
REPRESENTATIONS ON APPLICATIONS 17/4034M; 17/4277M AND 18/0294M – RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTS NORTH AND SOUTH OF CHELFORD ROAD, HENBURY/MACCLESFIELD BY JINES HOMES AND ROBINSONS
The Macclesfield Civic Society was established in 1962 and its main aim is to stimulate public interest in the town, encourage high standards of development and design, the protection of buildings and places of historical and architectural interest and the town’s environs. The Society is not anti-development but seeks to ensure that any change results in the right form of development, in the right place and at the right time. The Society contributed at all stages of the Local Plan process and appeared at the Examination in order to discuss any outstanding concerns.
The Society submits the following representations based on an examination of documents accompanying the three outline applications. We have previously submitted representations to Cheshire East Council in our letters of 12 September 2017 (application 17/4277M); 24 November 2017 (application 17/4034M) and 8 February 2018 (application 18/0294M). The Society reiterates those representations as still valid. The following relate to issues of air quality and transport which have been the subject of further submissions by the respective applicants. As the material relied upon is identical for each scheme the following comments apply to all schemes.
We note the assessment of air quality taking into account traffic growth to 2020 and having regard to the combination of traffic growth from these sites. The conclusion of imperceptible impacts is perhaps questionable. The assessments years are 2017 and 2020 – and the aim is to model effects upon air quality in the Broken Cross Air Quality Management Area [AQMA]. Background levels of the more significant pollutants are taken from DEFRA concentration maps – but these are based on 1km x 1km grid squares which represent quite a coarse grain approach, particularly in the case of development affecting a designated AQMA – the study shows that concentrations would be (in the case of 2020) below mean levels of Air Quality objectives adopted by the UK government. However, recent cross cultural studies undertaken by the World Health Organisation have demonstrated that there is a robust case for lowering such mean levels by as much as 50% to reduce impacts on human health [Times Report – August 2018]. Mere compliance with currently adopted mean levels is accordingly insufficient given that the impact of increased traffic flows on the AQMA will only increase up to and beyond 2030 as a result developments planned or foreseen in the adopted Local Plan Strategy.
Predicted levels of the measured pollutants in 2020 (with development) show no reductions or negligible (as labelled in the study) increase despite significant increased traffic flow. There could only be two reasons for this conclusion – first, there are technological improvements to vehicles resulting in reduced emissions and second, some changes to the physical characteristics of the AQMA, such as alterations to buildings, redevelopment or changes to the population level within the AQMA. The first is a possibility but, given that changes to the composition of the national vehicle fleet take place only slowly, unlikely. The second, given the permanence of the pattern of development – would be extremely unlikely.
None of the impacts appear to be mitigated and no suggestions are made such as encouraging modal shift to public transport or other traffic management measures to restrain traffic growth. Other changes in land use patterns in and around Macclesfield do not give cause for optimism at this time. The suggestion of electric car charging points in new development may have an impact but in the context of the scale of development (up to and beyond 2030) in the town it can be best described as marginal unless there are significant shifts in public policy at both national and local levels.
The Transport Assessments accept the prospect of increased flows along all approaches to the Broken Cross junction with or without the proposed developments but argue that the provision of traffic signals at the junction, together with two pedestrian priority crossings would not only accommodate such flows but also reduce queue lengths on all approaches to the junction. Despite considerable mathematic modelling it appears to the Society that such a conclusion is counter intuitive. With traffic signals there are periods where all approach roads would have standing traffic (with idling engines doing no good for pollution levels) and potentially conflicting right-turning movements. We suspect that model conditions may not affect the reality of the situation after a change from a roundabout to traffic signalled junction.
In this context it is worth recalling that during the 1960s and 1970s the former Macclesfield Borough took nearly two decades to decide what to do about the Broken Cross junction – all schemes assessed involved demolition of properties on either or both sides of the junction and it was only when a “least impact” scheme of a roundabout was selected that the much desired improvement to traffic conditions was achieved – we hope that history is not repeated.
Chairman, Macclesfield Civic Society
14 August 2018