Cycling: Lynnsport New Access

Question to Borough Council

The Mayor invited M J Ray from Setchey to ask the following public question:

“Council, I would like to ask you about the Pinch Point Funding bid for the Lynnsport Northern Access road, which would be built over the top of the current Sandringham Railway Path.

This new road would damage a valuable green corridor from the Woottons to town - one of the arteries that leads to Lynn's green heart in the Walks, as well as a route of international importance for sustainable tourism, which is supposedly supported by local planning policies. The second-class replacement paths are either alongside a road that looks like a half-mile drag strip, or squeezed between a drain and an industrial park - the similar path by St Nicholas Retail Park is useful, but it's nowhere near as good as the Sandringham Path - and it adds new crossings to the path, and most injurious crashes occur where paths cross roads.

Why aren't we re-using Hamburg Way and the former bus link instead and why, if this council supports walking and cycling, do King's Lynn's best green paths keep being turned into roads?”

In response Councillor Beales, Cabinet Member for Regeneration commented that the question implied that no cycling concerns had been taken into account which was not the case. He explained that the Pinch Point funding bid was central a pot of funding which was designed to remove bottle necks and congestion on the highway, improving access, providing jobs and employment centres. All concerns and comments had been taken into account including those from the cyclists, the Internal Drainage Board, the King’s Lynn Model Railway etc.

(Actually, no cyclists concerns were taken into account until long after the bid had been submitted.

The roadside pedestrian paths are probably futile, as we know pedestrians prefer to get as far away from the roads as possible, as we've seen that happen elsewhere in King's Lynn and that's also described in LTN 2/08 Cycle Infrastructure Design. So they'll use the diverted cycle path because it's not beside the road and far from keeping the two apart, it'll cause conflict. The council designers should know that.)

With regard to the track bed which the cycle path was currently situated on, the new road, if approved would utilise that load bearing area. The road would have high quality pedestrian paths each side, and the cycle path would be separate, so keeping the two apart. The two crossings indicated were sustrans flat crossings, one of which was already along the current cycle track, the crossing at Hamburg way would be signal controlled.

Mr Archer from the National Cycling Charity and other interested parties had been involved in discussions with officers at an early stage and he had been invited to the Cabinet Scrutiny Committee meeting where his points were considered. It was clear that the interests of cyclists had been considered in the early stages.

(The bid was submitted in February. I was at Mr Archer's discussions with officers only a few weeks before this council meeting. After submission is not the early stages!)

With regard to the alternative route mentioned, Councillor Beales commented that the proposal was not without merit, however that alternative route would take cars and lorries delivering and making collections etc into a residential area. Councillor Beales felt that the new road would be a further improved access to the town and would bring great benefits. It would give access to land to enable 230-430 dwellings to be built on land, which would then also give cycle path access into the town for those households. As the land was Borough Council owned, the results of the sale of the land, or dwellings would then be of benefit to the Council Tax payer in the Borough.

(The alternative route would take cars and lorries through less residential area than the bid plan, as part of their trip would be along Hamburg Way and Bryggen Way, which are non-residential.)

With regard to Lynnsport, which was a remarkable resource for the area, the proposal would give it a new access road which as well as being a bonus for Lynnsport and its customers, would also be a bonus for the people who lived along Columbia Way and the roads into the current entrance, as it would mean that the level of traffic using that area would reduce.

(But a drawback for people who live along Low Road, Marsh Lane and Front Way, who get increased traffic. This is like pushing some unplatable dinner around the plate.)

In summing up Councillor Beales stated that there were a wide range of benefits in the proposal, with considerable thought being given to the cyclists concerns, and should the bid be successful, a place on the officer steering group had been offered to Mr Archer to enable him to give the cyclists perspective on plans.

(No benefits for cyclists, though!)

M J Ray then asked as a supplementary question on how the proposal would fit into the Council’s Core Strategy relating to walking and cycling. In response Councillor Beales stated that not only was there going to be a cycle path, but the two new pedestrian paths, all of which would give not only the existing properties in the area excellent access to the town without using the car, but also all the new properties which would be built on the land. Every part of that supported the Council’s policies.

(How does it support them? Council policy CS03 says "alternative links within the town for walking and cycling will be maintained" which is clearly contradicted. Policy CS11 of the Borough's Core Strategy that states walking and cycling are preferred to buses and cars (not moved aside for them!) and also says the development will need a "travel plan to show how car based travel can be minimised" which seems unlikely when a new road is being provided specially for it.)

Taken from item C112 on page 1117 of the borough minutes if anyone wants to read the original. If anyone wants to discuss this please contact me. Thanks.

25 Apr 2013, MJR