Crossing refusal puts students at risk

Refusal by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council (DMBC) to grant planning permission for an essential puffin crossing on The Broadway, Dudley has come as a shock decision for the college who, after 18 months of planning, expected their application to be approved.

Although the application had been recommended for approval by council officers and had the full support of the DMBC Highway and Engineers departments, elected members rejected the application to provide a safe crossing point on the grounds of adverse affect to air quality and detriment residential amenity.

Lowell Williams, Principal of Dudley College said:

“There is a pressing need for a crossing and I am astounded that our application has been rejected particularly after the Council’s own investigations deemed the application should be approved.

The college has invested some £36m in the regeneration of Dudley through the creation of the Dudley Learning Quarter. The assertion that the creation of the crossing would be detrimental to the amenity of the area is disappointing and frankly a little ridiculous. The Corporation, staff and most importantly students of the college fail to understand how the advice of the Council’s own experts has been ignored.

The addition of a controlled crossing had always been a requirement in the development of the Dudley Learning Quarter, as the safety of the college users and the wider public is our foremost concern.”

This need for the crossing was endorsed by DMBC’s Highways Department who reported: “The provision of this new safe pedestrian route is in accordance with Policy CSP5 of the Core Strategy, one of the aims of which is to improve road safety as a strategic outcome of the transport strategy for the Black Country.”

This decision to refuse the application was taken contrary to reports submitted by the Borough’s own highways department and Royal Haskoning, an independent highways consultant. Both reports appear to have been ignored by members. The officers’ report to members provided the committee with the following details:

On traffic impact – ‘The Council’s Engineer has no objection to the proposal and it is therefore considered that the introduction of a crossing at this location would not have any detrimental effect on highway safety or the free flow of traffic’

On residential amenity and air quality – ‘It is not therefore considered that significant impacts would arise to residential amenity or cause a quantifiable degradation of air quality.’

In conclusion – ‘The proposed development would not have any adverse impact on the character of the Conservation Area, residential amenity or highway safety.  As such the proposal complies with DMBC Policy.’

Lowell Williams went on to say:

“The college will be lodging an appeal as pedestrians are still in danger of being injured whilst crossing this busy road. The appeal will take time and money, which could be used to better effect.

I can only hope that an accident doesn’t occur whilst we are trying to reverse this poor decision.  Committee members will need to take responsibility for their actions if such an unfortunate event were to occur.”

Read the full planning application for the new pedestrian crossing.