Planning for Essential Crossing Approved After Successful Appeal

Dudley College’s planning permission for an essential puffin crossing on The Broadway has finally been approved. After planning was refused by Dudley Council, the college were forced to escalate the planning application for the crossing to the Planning Inspectorate for appeal.

The report from the Inspector, appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, concluded ‘ that there is a strong need for a pedestrian crossing on The Broadway and that the proposed location in following the natural desire line for students would maximise its use. The noise and disturbance for nearby occupiers generated by the crossing would be minimal and the effect on air quality overall would be negligible. Having regard to all other matters raised, I therefore conclude that the highway safety benefits of the proposed development heavily outweigh its adverse effects.’

The Planning Inspectorate considered the need and location of the crossing alongside objections raised relating to noise and disturbance, air quality, conservation and light spillage. Having investigated the objections, the appeal supports the original reports submitted by the Borough’s own highways department, who had no objection to the proposal.

Lowell Williams, Principal at Dudley College said “We are pleased that the planning issue for the puffin crossing has finally been resolved by the Planning Inspectorate. Although this has taken over two years to reach a successful conclusion, the appeal has delivered the right outcome. Common sense has prevailed.

“The addition of a controlled crossing has 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.”

“I remain exceptionally disappointed that the application was refused in the first place. I am at a loss to understand the reasoning behind this initial decision. The Planning Inspector’s report is abundantly clear, emphasising safety as the overriding priority and wholly endorsing the college’s application.  In reaching their refusal decision, Dudley Council’s Planning Committee ignored the recommendation of its own expert officers. Further, tens of thousands of pounds have been wasted in conducting this appeal. In times of austerity, these valuable funds would have been better used to further enhance education facilities for young people and adults in the borough.”

When plans were originally submitted the 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.”

The 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.’

Steve Johnson, Executive Director of Estates said “The college will now work positively with the Council’s highway team on a refined design for the crossing. Work will be commissioned pending highway access permissions and construction is expected to take place over the summer. The cost of the crossing is being met by the college as part of their £50m Dudley Learning Quarter development and regeneration of the town centre.”