Road experts leave a council lost for words

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COUNCILLORS have demanded that a senior county council official explain advice which was slammed as “extremely confusing.”

High Peak’s Emily Thrane said she wanted the head of the highways authority to say “in language people could understand” why his department had raised serious safety concerns about a major planning proposal – but at the same time refused to recommend it for refusal.

Commenting on the planned redevelopment of the former Dorma factory site at Chinley, highways officials had stated that on the one hand it would be difficult to sustain a refusal on highway grounds, but the authority would be likely to refuse to adopt the road and junction as it could not meet the necessary safety standards.

Residents fear that the proposals for 182 homes, industrial units and a community facility using the substandard single access route would be a danger. At a meeting of the Borough’s Development Control Committee, members agreed to defer a decision pending clarification.

Cllr Thrane said: “Clearly, people who know the site well are concerned about safety.”

But she said the comments from the highway authority were unclear: “This is extremely confusing for the public and members of the committee.”

She called for unequivocal advice couched in language people could understand and clarification on the legal position in terms of road adoption issues. Members agreed if necessary to pay for outside expert advice.

Marc Hourigan, on behalf of the applicants, said the principle of development was fully supported by officers: “The council policies are out of date and action is needed to boost the supply of housing locally. This application will make a significant contribution.”

He highlighted the affordable housing, employment opportunities and community facilities: “There are no technical reasons why this should not be granted permission.”

There was no record of accidents on Green Lane or the Forge Road junction, he said, and if a second access to the site had been needed then County Highways would have requested it.