Agenda item

12/01923 Canterbury District Local Plan & Transportation Strategy

To receive the report from the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport and Corporate Director for Growth, Environment and Transport and to consider and endorse or make recommendations to the Cabinet Member


(1)       The Cabinet Committee received a report of the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport and the Corporate Director of Growth, Environment and Transport which contained information on the Canterbury District Local Plan & Transportation Strategy. 


(2)       Three members of the public had requested to address the Committee: Debbie Barwick, Chairman of Canterbury Independent Traders Alliance (CITA), Jeremy Baker, a resident of Canterbury and rail commuter and David Hirst, a member of Canterbury City Council (CCC).


(3)       Ms Barwick referred to the Car Parking Strategy, para 4.52 of the covering report, and proposals to sell off parking spaces in the city centre and raise parking tariffs.  The Strategy earmarked 439 parking spaces for sale, 18% of the total city’s parking spaces.  Figures showed a reduction of 1/4m cars into the city centre car parks between 2005 and 2014.  Park and Ride figures had gone down by 22% between 2006 and 2013.


(4)       Mr Baker stated that the introduction of high speed trains had meant that Canterbury West, which had historically had slow trains to London, now had half hourly peak time trains which took 56 minutes to reach London.  This had meant enormous changes to the number of commuters transferring to Canterbury West to take advantage of the improved services.  KCC’s own Kent Travel Report 2012 showed that between 2002 and 2012 patronage of Canterbury West had increased by 153%.  A study had been carried out for KCC and Southeastern Trains which had concluded that 120 car parking spaces would be needed by this year.  Currently there were only 99 spaces for rail users which were always full by 9 o’clock each morning meaning other commuters had to use other car parks meant for shoppers which therefore affected anyone trying to park in the city centre later in the day.  KCC’s Rail Action Plan for Kent recognised a need for increased parking spaces at many stations. 


(5)       CCC’s draft District Local Plan proposed to build an office block on one of the car parks adjacent to the station and housing on the station’s overflow car park.  This would result in a loss of more parking spaces, in addition to those mentioned by Ms Barwick.  Mr Baker stated that the strategy before the Committee did not address the loss of parking or provision of any additional parking.


(6)       Mr Baker then referred to a petition from the taxi drivers at Canterbury West station which he presented to the Chairman. 


(7)       Mr Hirst introduced himself as a Canterbury City Councillor representing the views of Canterbury residents and local business who had concerns about parking, bus services and traffic.  Many of the local traders had raised their concerns with him regarding the gradual closure of city centre car parks and high parking tariffs.  Mr Hirst supported the traders request to delete the closures of city centre car parks from the strategy. 


(8)       Mr Hirst was also referred to car parking issues at the local stations and the petition Mr Baker had presented from the taxi drivers at Canterbury West station who also had inadequate parking.  The rail company refused to release land to accommodate the taxi drivers.  Mr Hirst supported the petition stating that the strategy should be amended to earmark land at Roper Road for additional parking including waiting space for the taxi drivers who served the station.


(9)       He stated that he also had concerns about the validity of the meeting’s agenda as the Plan that the Committee was considering was not the final version.  The report stated that the draft Transportation Strategy had been produced jointly with CCC.  This had taken place in March 2014 but the strategy had been changed twice by the City Council since then.  One set of changes in April included deleting a fourth park and ride facility which was still shown in the version the Committee had as Appendix 1 to the report.  In October following public consultation seven pages of changes had been made none of which were included in the version of the strategy at Appendix 1.  Mr Hirst stated that the Committee was being asked to consider and endorse the principlesof a strategy that was eight months out of date and he asked the Committee to defer their approval until Mr Brazier had had time to furnish them with the correct version and they had had time to study it.


(10)    Tim Read, Head of Transportation was in attendance to introduce the report and in particular referred to the following:


(11)    The draft Canterbury Transportation Strategy, attached as Appendix 1 to the report, reflected the fact that the car would be the primary mode of travel for the foreseeable future and it proposed significant investment in highway infrastructure. 


(12)    The strategy was a reaction by the transport authority and the planning authority to the issue of growth in both housing and employment; it provided potential highway solutions to facilitate the proposed growth of 15,600 homes and 6,500 jobs identified in the Canterbury District Local Plan up to 2031.


(13)    According to traffic modelling if Canterbury continued to grow as it was over the next 20-30 years the increase in travel demand would be expected to go up by approximately 17% and the increase in traffic growth would increase by approximately 18%. 


(14)    If the proposed Local Plan growth was factored into the equation the travel demand, the public’s desire to go into the city, would increase by 30% and the traffic growth by 28%.


(15)    The overriding philosophy within the strategy was to provide some significant increases in highway capacity, with approx £70m of private investment, in the city.  To prevent these improvements backfilling with traffic and thus becoming a waste of money the strategy also proposed to improve public transport infrastructure, cycling and walking within the city.   The plan’s overall aim was to keep traffic levels as they had been in 2011, which had proved successfully up until recently.  Traffic levels over the past 20 years had remained pretty constant.


(16)    The strategy included several bypass schemes which would be vital if new houses were to be built.  Highway infrastructure needed to be in place before any development.  Slip roads on the A2 were also included in the strategy as were many small scale operations such as car clubs and cycle paths.


(17)    In response to questions raised and comments made the Committee received the following further information:


(18)    With regard to the city centre parking concerns CCC have undertaken to make no reductions to parking without public consultation and evidence to show that adequate supply would remain.


(19)    The aim of the strategy was to stop journey times getting any worse, particularly for road users.  There was no element of compulsion in the strategy, it was not forcing drivers out of their cars or of allocating road space away from the private car.  KCC had already raised its concerns with CCC over the Car Park Charging Strategy and how this needed to be handled carefully. 


(20)    The issues which had been raised in regard to parking at Canterbury West station were valid but Southeastern were the landowners and proposals to increase the parking were within their control.  Off street car parking was not something the County Council had ever had control over.


(21)    The four level crossings across the main radial routes into and out of Canterbury was indeed a contributing factor to the sometimes strange traffic patterns in the city centre.  One of the proposed schemes, the Sturry Link Road, would go considerable way to alleviating the congestion at one of the level crossings.


(22)    Local Development Frameworks and Local Plans had to go through Government Planning Inspectors and often had to include radical, sometimes unpleasant plans. 


(23)    The usual timeline for the County Council to approve a Transport Strategy was that it would come to the Cabinet Committee before it went on deposit.  In this case this had not been possible.  The draft Canterbury Transportation Strategy had been approved by the Executive of Canterbury City Council on 22 October 2014 and deposited as part of the Local Plan supporting evidence on 21 November 2014. It was expected that the Examination in Public would take place in Spring 2015.


(24)    Members were being asked to endorse the principles of the strategy, not the detail.


(25)    Mr Hirst stated again that the document before the Committee was out of date.  The Cabinet Member sought clarification on this and Mr Read stated that he believed the version before Members was what had been put on deposit. Subsequent to the meeting Mr Read established that a schedule of minor changes also exists which the JTB had considered, and these would be circulated to Members with the minutes of the meeting (attached as an appendix to these minutes).


(26)    Following the debate the Chairman put the recommendations to the vote and requested the results were as follows:


For (7):                Mrs P Stockell, Mr M Balfour, Mrs S Hohler, Mr C Pearman, Mr C Simkins, Mr M Whybrow, Mr A Wickham


Against (2):        Mr M Baldock, Mr B MacDowall


Abstain (3):        Mr C Caller, Dr M Eddy, Mr J Ozog



(27)    RESOLVED that the principles of the draft Canterbury Transportation Strategy be endorsed.

Supporting documents: