MERRIE HARRIER RUSH-HOUR TRAFFIC TO INCREASE OVER FOUR TIMES

“In the next few years morning rush-hour traffic at the Merrie Harrier junction will have increased four times – by 407.6%,” local Cllr Vince Driscoll, a member of the Dinas Powys By-pass Steering Group, detailed this week. “This isn’t our claim. Its what the Vale of Glamorgan Council say in their Highway Impact Assessment report.

“What are they doing about it? They’re conducting another study. But they don’t say when or what the this will cover. But they do say it will be driven by the content of their Local Development Plan (LDP) which potentially makes it a total waste of rate-payers money.”

The examination of the draft LDP finishes this Thursday after which the Inspector will deliver his report, based on the hearings and the thousands of pages submitted to him, some time before the end of the year.

The outcome will guide the way Council planning and infrastructure development until 2026. It’s already running six years late.

Last October Ken Skates A.M., Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Infrastructure, asked his officers to meet with their counterparts in the Vale Council. They were tasked with coming up with the ‘best solution’ to what he called the ‘unique’ problems of roads in Dinas Powys, that would be fully funded.

“However, by placing a limiting clause to make any findings fit with the LDP the Officers seem to be defying the open remit of the Minister,” added Cllr Driscoll.

“They’re saying, regardless of need and facts, the by-pass will not be considered as a potential solution because the council has excluded it from their LDP.”

Officials seem to also question the outcome of traffic surveys they commissioned in 2012 and 2013.  Although there was a recorded increase of 12% between sample dates they say ‘traffic fluctuations’ could reduce this figure to a 5% increase.  But the Dinas Powys Steering Group emphasised fluctuations go up as well as down. They say, by the same assumption, the figure could have been as high as a 19%.

The Vale Council now call the Dinas By-pass, first muted nearly 90 years ago, the Barry Waterfront to Cardiff Link Road.  The line was drawn and the land reserved

by the then South Glamorgan County Council over half a century ago. It was included in the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) up to 2011. The UDP was compiled by the previous administration.

“According to the council’s figures, rush-hour traffic is already over capacity at the Merrie Harrier but by 2026 Traffic on Redlands Road will back up to Cornerswell Road on a normal work day,” explained Roger Pattenden, another member of the By-Pass Steering Group. “Traffic at the Baron’s Court junction is currently running at 44% above capacity, increasing by over 10% in the next few years.”

The Dinas Powys By-pass Group have observed how figures deep in council reports state traffic at the Cardiff Road and Murch Road traffic lights in Dinas Powys will tail back at peak times. The report states in a few years on Murch Road vehicles will be bumper to bumper for well over half a mile. On the other side of the junction, Millbrook Road, vehicles will back up for approaching a mile.

Traffic at the Murch / Cardiff Road junction was over capacity in 2012 and the council report states it will be nearly 100% over capacity by 2026. “That’s without any of the incidents we’ve experienced recently, each of which has backed up traffic well out of Dinas Powys in all directions,” added Steve Griffiths.

“We’ve had gas leaks on Penny-Turnpike and other temporary traffic lights at Leckwith, at the Dinas Powys station bridge on the A4055 and a short distance further on at the new intersection at Cross Common. A few weeks before that there were tail-backs from the Merrie Harrier to McDonald’s roundabout because of flooding at Sully Moors Road,” said Steering Group member Steve Griffiths.
“Let’s hope either Ken Skates or the Independent Inspector will recognise the urgent need for positive and major decisions and action,”added Cllr Driscoll. “Planning, budgeting and changes to important junctions don’t happen overnight. That’s why they need to be in plans from now – not treated like a political football. These are matters that affect the whole Vale – drivers from Barry, Penarth, Sully, Rhoose and Llantwit Major all use the corridor through Dinas Powys.”

 

THE BY-PASS SAGA

  • 1928 By-Pass first muted by residents – when between Murch Road and Cross Common were just green fields. Map is in existence.

  • 1964–66 Line of by-pass drawn by Glamorgan County Council. Map displayed on wall of Barry Docks Building – home of Vale Council Planning Department.

  • 1964–66 Alan Todd, whose family had lived in Cross Common since the early 1900s was granted planning to build a bungalow. He didn’t proceed because the by-pass line would have separated the bungalow from his farm.

  • 1971 when a current resident bought house in Cross Common Road the line of by-pass showed in the legal search.

  • 1996 – Glamorgan County Council became the Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council.

  • 2005 – Unitary Development Plan 1996 – 2011 was adopted, which included a proposal for the Dinas Powys By-Pass.

  • 2012 Labour coalition with Llantwit First gained control of Council and within months decide to scrap LDP process six years down the line and started by the previous Conservative administration. They took it back to the ‘Preferred Strategy LDP’ drawn up by the Labour / Plaid coalition in 2007.

2012 The new Council saw: ‘securing the infrastructure necessary to deliver the developments proposed in the LDP as imperative.’ But the By-Pass was removed from the plan.

QUESTIONS TO THE VALE COUNCIL

•        Why isn’t the Vale Council including the By-Pass in its Local Development Plan with available funding from the Welsh Government?

•        Did the Council compare the projected traffic flow in 2026 with the option of a by-pass?

•        Is only 35% of the A4055 through Dinas Powys built up, against 90% Cowbridge High Street, because the Council want to claim the A4055 isn’t over-capacity?

•        Why isn’t the Council proposing to implement effective ways to reduce current and future congestion?  Walking and cycling are worthwhile but will have little  effect on congestion.  Buses will still be stuck in traffic and increased rail capacity is some years away.

•        Why does the Council conclude that the Barry Waterfront Link Road (Dinas Powys By-Pass) would not significantly reduce congestion and benefit everyone in the Vale?

•        Will the Council halt the sale of land at the former St Cyres Lower School until the new study is completed, in case any of the previously reserved land is needed for a by-pass?

DINAS POWYS BY-PASS CAMPAIGN – WE NEED YOUR HELP

The By-pass petition is going from strength to strength – but we still need more people to sign:

Has everyone in you home signed?

If not, please do so at: www.dinaspowysbypass.co.uk
Have you asked your friends, relatives, neighbours, everyone you know onLine to sign?
Will you help get more signatures door to door – even just your street?
Will you display a window poster: Sign DINAS BY-PASS PETITION

(If you can help please email or text your name and contact to comit.cymru@yahoo.com or call 02922214488).

WE’VE BEEN…

Lobbying the Vale of Glamorgan Council to:

Persuade them to put the Dinas Powys by-pass (they call it the Barry Waterfront to Cardiff Link Road) back in their Local Development Plan (LDP) and to apply to the Welsh Government for funding.

•   First Minister Carwyn Jones has said they would seriously consider the By-pass (initially proposed in 1928) if the Council applied to the Welsh Government.

•   Secretary of State for the Economy and Infrastructure Ken Skates A.M.  said in October 2016 he was to instruct his staff to meet with their counterparts in the Vale to find a way to solve the Dinas Powys traffic  problem, that would be fully funded.

•  The Press Release that followed the 12th December meeting and a recent Email from the Council added a caveat – that the solution ‘fits with the Council’s Local Development Plan’ – from which the Council has excluded the By-Pass.

(The By-Pass was included in the Conservative Council’s UDP in 2009 and was in every study and report – including those commissioned by councils –  between 2007 and 2013. When Labour took control of the Vale in 2011 their Leader, Ian Moore, talked of scrapping the LDP system. Instead, when they filed their draft LDP in 2013 they scrapped the Dinas Powys By-Pass instead).

   •  On 26th and 28th January the Independent Inspector evaluating the LDP will hear the final wind-up submissions and changes. He is expected to announce his findings in Mid-April 2017.

THE VALE COUNCIL PLAN 10,000 HOUSES IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS –PUTTING 20,000 MORE VEHICLES ON VALE ROADS DAILY…40,000 MORE TRIPS EVERY DAY, the  majority through Dinas Powys.

Yes, it’s that serious.

THE VALE COUNCIL PLAN TO SELL LAND ADJOINING THE DIMAS POWYS HEALTH CENTRE TO BUILD 300 HOUSES – ADDING (AFTER CONSTRUCTION VEHICLES) 1,500 ROAD TRIPS DAILY ALONG MURCH ROAD.

IF THE HOUSES ARE BUILT FIRST THE  BY-PASS MAY NEVER HAPPEN

Very serious.

ACTION

We plan a totally peaceful, totally legal Protest PRESS / MEDIA PHOTO CALL next week. Obviously the element of surprise is paramount… but we need a small group there…just to stand with signs while interviews with TV and Press take place.

If you are keen to give real support to this campaign please call us on 02922214488 and we’ll contact you with the time and place.

We will send out further emails as the campaign progresses but please keep an eye on our website and in the local press.

BACKGROUND

For over 50 years a strip of land has been safeguarded along the proposed route of the by-pass (from the Barry Road / Green Lane turn-off over Pop Hill to Cross Common along to the Merrie Harrier). For many years a map of the lay-out has hung in the lobby of the Vale Council’s Planning Offices in the Barry Docks Building – the same building where the Inspector is holding the Deposit LDP Hearings.

                The proposed route of the Dinas Powys by-pass. The Vale Council conceded it "would partially address" traffic issues - but the decision was still "No"

The proposed route of the Dinas Powys by-pass from over 50 years ago. The previous Conservative administration in the Vale Council adopted the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) 1996-2011 and it supported the purpose of a by-pass.

In 2011, the new Labour controlled Vale Council started work on a Local Development Plan (LDP) to replace the UDP.  In order to inform their LDP, the Council commissioned various surveys and reports including a Highway Impact Assessment (HIA). But when their draft LDP was produced it failed to contain the vital infrastructure for the planned 10,000 house that the HIA indicated would be needed to avoid even worse congestion.

 Cllr Neil Moore, Labour leader of the Council said in 2012: “It is imperative that the final plan contains the right mix of development for the Vale and that it is fully supported by the necessary infrastructure.”

Cllr Lis Burnett, now Deputy Leader of the council said then: “The infrastructure was not bottomed out which led to concerns about the road network and air quality.”

Rob Thomas, then the council’s director of development services, and now its Managing Director said: “The potential for new highway corridors will have to be addressed, along with public transport.”

He added that “pinch points” in the existing road network would also be investigated and the housing developments could be phased in as improvements were made.

Five years on their new plan retains proposals for 10,000 houses but scraps the major infrastructure need of the Dinas Powys by-pass.

The Draft LDP offered for consultation in 2013 proposed dealing with the worsening traffic congestion identified and predicted in the HIA along the Barry – Cardiff corridor, with a policy of ‘modal shift’ to encourage less car use.

Councillors have said they want to encourage other forms of transport like walking and cycling with a single extra path between Cardiff and Barry. They also propose Park and Ride schemes at Barry Dock station and at Cosmeston Park but nothing in Dinas Powys. They talk about problems at various junctions including the Merrie Harrier and Baron’s Court but propose no actual improvement.

This suggestion for the Merrie Harrier has been put forward by our group to stimulate discussion and to show that improvement is possible.

In answer to a question from Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew R.T.Davies put in the Chamber in October 2016 Minister Ken Skates AM, triggered the new study, as not even minor improvements identified in the LDP are indicated for action.

An LDP Deposit Plan including the deletions and additions proposed to the Council by the Inspector following the initial Hearings was published in September 2016. But this did not include the by-pass. The final hearings on the Deposit Plan are at the end of January 2017. But no new submissions will be heard despite the Minister’s request for a further study and offer of funding.

The Welsh Government appointed Independent Inspector is expected to publish his findings in mid-April. This may or may not instruct the Council to change some parts of the LDP before it is adopted.

On 29 November 2016 a public meeting about the by-pass and the proposed 300 new house development in the Murch was held in the Dinas Powys Parish Hall.  Many local people attended and over 95% showed their support for a by-pass.  The meeting’s organisers and sponsors, the Dinas Powys Conservative Party, set up a non-political By-Pass Steering Group to campaign for the by-pass.