The Bickerstaffe Record
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Bickerstaffe Thoughts, Cotterill on the Council

My comments on Edge Hill’s plans

04.22.10 | Comment?

Just for the record here are the comments I made on the recent Edge Hill University consultation documentation about its plans for expansion of facilities towards Scarth Hill Lane.  I’m sorry I forgot to post them here earlier:

Comments

I am the councillor for Bickerstaffe Ward, within which Scarth Hill Lane sits.  As such, my focus in this response is wholly on the interests of residents on this road (along with two houses on St Helens Road. 

I know that many of these residents have attended the exhibition, had discussions with representatives there, and made their own comments, as have South Lathom Residents’ Association.  My first plea, therefore, is simply that these submissions be fully taken into account. Because these houses lie over the administrative border from the Ormskirk Derby ward, there is a risk that Scarth Hill voices might be ‘submerged’ by the concerns/comments of the town when it comes to Edge Hill developments, but it is important to recognize that with this development on to greenbelt land to the south of the existing building it is Scarth Hill residents who stand to be most directly affected, not people on Ruff Lane or further afield. 

For information, I have put a motion on Planning Committee for March which asks that, in spite of the administrative border, these residents and their representatives be given equal consultation and speaking rights over this development.

My main comments on the proposals as they stand are as follows:

Car parking

Clearly a main concern, given the potential for opening up routes from the Scarth Hill area towards the main building areas is that Scarth Hill and the area around will come to be seen as a convenient parking area, with people content to finish their journey with a 10 minutes walk from this area into the university.  This has been the case in respect of the A570 highway, although this has been limited to some extent by highways enforcement measures – a measure which would be less available on Scarth Hill Lane.

All efforts must be taken to ensure that this does not become a problem in the first place, both in respect of Scarth Hill Lane itself and on any grass areas that may become informal parking area.

More generally, and in relation to the visual aspect enjoyed by residents, I believe there is real merit in re-examining the current proposals for car parking areas to see what parking can be ‘sunk’ beneath buildings etc.. This is technically feasible, although there are of cost implications.  However, it is my submission that such additional cost might be warranted even in the university’s terms, as it will create a more pleasing visual aspect overall (no-one likes to see large car parks) and in general provide the campus with a pleasanter ‘feel’ to it, thus leading in the long term to improved university reputation.

Alternative modes of transport

Parking has of course been a long term issue for the university (and it is recognized that it is a problem in many towns with universities), and has become a ‘bugbear’ with residents.

It is recognized that the university has made efforts with its green travel plan, and the development of its shuttle bus services.  However, my own feeling is that not enough of a challenge has been made to students (and staff) about their travel methods.  Quite simply, students do not tend to choose a university on the basis of how close they can park to where they need to be, and if travel is made somewhat longer and more inconvenient by restrictions on parking, so be it – it is the same for many students up and down the land.

I would therefore be keen to see, as part of the overall development plan, a commitment to the development of more bus services operating from the various directions students/staff need to travel from, including, just for example, a service from Junction 3 of the M58 set alongside a plan for developing car parking as necessary near the Investment Centre.  This would of course also relieve pressure on the A570 (see below).

More radically, I would like to see a real ‘bike challenge’ to students and staff, as part of an overall scheme to bring Edge Hill towards being a bike-based university, as quite a number are.  The area has the virtue of being fairly flat, and it is not unreasonable to ask students to ride one or two miles from Ormskirk station/Aughton Park station, or from any car drop off point around.  Indeed, the Ormskirk area might be an ideal area to trail a ‘take any bike’ scheme (linked to social business opportunities around repairs and maintenance) using an approach similar to that in Paris.  There is no reason not to expect that Edge Hill might, through careful ‘behavioural management’ become much more bike-friendly than it is at the moment, although it is recognized that there are challenges from the fairly high number of students traveling from home on a daily basis.

I would ask that any schemes be identified as part of this application, and not as part of a general strategy.

Road access

It was a little disappointing t learn at the exhibition that, when examining the feasibility of a new entrance into the site on St Helens Road, no account had been taken by the consultant team of the possible impacts on Scarth Hill Lane, including the blogging of entry/egress for residents by backflow on the A570.  

I do not seek to be a traffic expert, but it does seem possible that there will be negative effects on Scarth Hill, and these should be examined and reported on before any application is made.

Walking routes

Scarth Hill Lane is narrow, and with the potential for increased traffic on it because of university expansion, provision should be made for a full public footpath on university land to allow residents safe transit along the line of Scarth Hill.

Drainage

I know that residents have raised concerns about the possible impact on their (non-mains) drainage, which flows off down the hill onto the newly –owned university land.

Again, I claim no expertise here, but it is imperative that this issue be addressed before an application is submitted, and reported on both in terms of solving any problem areas and, potentially, any enhancement that might be created for residents, including the possibility of linking into a fuller, better drainage system.

Light and noise pollution

This is clearly one of the biggest concerns for residents.   I would ask that the university look again to check that it can make assurances on the following:

The pitch areas are as far away from Scarth Hill Lane as they can possibly be located;

The ‘noisiest’ pitches with the potential for greates player/crowd volume (football?) are located as far away as possible with the quieter and less used pitches located nearer;

That the time of switch off of floodlights/end of play be put into the application as an upfront proposal, rather than waiting for it to be negotiated as a condition, and that how this process is managed be set out

That residents’ sightlines be examined to ensure that glare from lighting on pitches is minimized, even here this necessitates shielding on lights and ‘one side’ only lighting on pitches. 

Ongoing process

In general, it is a concern of residents that all studies, and all details of the application be put in place before an application is made, such that they can be examined and debated in public, rather than tied into planning conditions which are only open to council officer review and interpretation.

Conclusion

I hope these comments are helpful. As noted, they should be seen alongside the views/comments of residents, who will quite naturally have a more detailed understanding of how the plans might affect their properties and their lives. 

These comments, while they are made on an assumption that planning permission may be granted and are therefore focused on mitigation/improvement, should not be seen as endorsement for the plan in itself.  My own judgment on this is reserved for when a planning application is submitted and any judgment I make will of course be steered by how well comments and proposals made both here and by residents are picked up and dealt with.

 

I am not, I should add for completeness, a member of the planning committee.

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