Kier and their lack of attention to detail

As a member of the district council’s planning committee you get used to hearing the people’s concerns and sometimes even their anger about proposed new development. 

However, once the public concern has died down, most if not all of those issues resolved and the development built, there can be details that come back to bite you.

The pictures below show such minor details within much larger areas of development at Wygate Park.

The first 3 photos are shocking, both visually and potentially, literally.  How anybody could think it made sense to place a utility box, with a mains electrical power feed in the direct path of vehicles entering and leaving a heavily used residential car park, escapes me. 

Having done so, how can they then consider that two cheap wooden planted tubs, already falling apart, are an adequate form of protection against moving vehicles weighing up to 3000kgs?

The second set of photos are of an issue that I thought I’d already addressed, when I found the original bollard lying on the ground, due to the bodge job that had been carried out installing it the first time – how long did they expect 4 long wood screws in plastic plugs normally used in brickwork to last in Tarmac?.  With the help of the our planning enforcement officer, I got the bollard refitted with bolts instead of the wood screws used originally – who do these people employ?  Even then the refit was poorly done, but at least it was more secure than the original amateur job.

Imagine my shock then when I visited the site again sometime later, only to find that the bollard had now disappeared completely.  It appears to have been displaced in favour of new Tarmac and a services cover.  The location still has plenty of space for a correctly positioned bollard, using a nearby lamp post and low wooden fencing to block off the path that would otherwise allow vehicles to pass through easily.

The first photo in the second set show where the bollard is now, notice anything?  That’s right, it’s now in a completely useless position.  It now serves no purpose whatsoever, because vehicles can drive around it with ease, using the Tarmac area serving the properties to the left and drive over the gravel strip as shown by the white tyre marks in the second photo and continue on along the nice new Tarmac footway.

I had considered approaching the site manager directly rather than via our planning enforcement officer about both these issues.  I’ve already tried this with the utility box and planters. This has been met with a deafening silence and I was only asking for the name and contact details of somebody within Kier management.

Ignoring these seemingly minor issues, prior to new development being handed over to the council – the formal term is adopted – stores up problems for the future.  The utility box is of course the dangerous one; I don’t even know what it does, but if it gets hit and badly damaged, the residents will expect somebody’s help getting things sorted out and one things for sure, it won’t be Kier doing it, especially if the car involved is a hit and run.

The useless drive around bollard will very definitely end up in the district council’s complaints box.  Those living beyond the far side of Minsmere Close and wanting to get to and from the school in a hurry, are soon going to starting using this footway as a rat run.  This will be followed by residents in properties along that footway becoming justifiably very unhappy and complaining to the council and their local councillors.  This means that, unless this ridiculous situation is resolved now, local council taxpayer will be footing the bill to fix it instead of the developers.

Therefore, given the silence to date on the utility box, I’m using this unsubtle approach and going public (not that I’ve really got much public to go public with), to see if that gets me anywhere.

Location – access to residential parking court
Utility box logo and DANGER warning 
One of the disintegrating planters ‘protecting’ the box
The new and useless bollard (Spalding Academy School in distance)
Tyre tracks of those already using the shortcut
Location where the bollard was and should still be installed

Then just as I was about to post this article, what should appear in today’s Daily Telegraph. Nothing but empty promises in my opinion when they are coining it in as in the case of Persimmon. Until we have a much larger pool of developers seeking our business and greater range of housing for buyers to choose from, these sharks will keep knocking out their photo-copied designs and building them as cheaply as possible.


Daily Telegraph 4 March 2019

Update

I’m very please to be able to offer an update to this sorry tale, having now been able to make contact with somebody at the right level. However, the answer I received could so easily have come from the site manager had he bothered to respond.

The electrical box and its associated crumbling planters, are apparently remnants from the old sale office that was in that location as the site was being developed out and should have been removed at the same time as the sales office.

The lonely and ineffective bollard is another piece of unfinished business by the onsite team. This one is about the installing of something called a knee rail. This would be a low level fence along the length of the narrow graveled strip to the left and designed to prevent vehicles crossing over.

Public support for 20mph zones

I recently asked Lincolnshire County Council’s leadership to consider making the introduction of a 20mph speed limit in all Lincolnshire residential areas, a manifesto promise for the forthcoming county council elections. I’m therefore very pleased to see that public support for such speed limits is increasing nationally.
I am however very disappointed to see the comment from the motoring pressure group. This clearly demonstrate an inability to actually look beyond their own selfish wish to drive how they like, wherever they like, whatever its potential impact on people and communities.

LGN & LocalGov Newsletter – 03 January 2013
By James Evison

Public support for 20mph zones has almost reached an outright majority, according to new research published this week.
According to the Independent, 62% of people now support the move toward 20mph zones, and a poll of local authorities suggested more councils were putting the policy in place with almost half respondents either applying the principle or waiting for fresh Department for Transport (DfT) guidance on the issue.
Last year, research by safety campaigners suggested 20mph areas in residential streets was having a positive impact on road safety, as data from Portsmouth City Council and other local authorities indicated.
Another piece of research by shared space expert Ben Hamilton-Baillie and cranial pathologists suggested that 20mph was a ‘natural’ limit for human impact with surfaces, as humans have evolved to run at a maximum speed similar to this limit – whereas beyond 20mph there is a significantly heightened change of brain damage.
Islington LBC has become one of the latest in a series of councils to implement the policy, as it begins to be rolled out nationally – with broad support from the DfT and local transport minister, Norman Baker.
Commons transport committee chair, Louise Ellman, told the Independent that the move would improve standards of road safety.
‘This is about responsible motoring. It will make our roads safer and more usable,’ she said.
‘There is clearly widespread support for this, but it’s important that there be local consultation as to exactly where these zones are defined.’
Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: ‘Cutting the speed limit to 20mph in residential areas can save lives.’
But the news was not met positively by the Alliance of British Motorists, who warned could actually make it more dangerous by encouraging ‘driving to the speedometer’ and not paying close attention to what is happening outside of the vehicle.

PPG13 amendment not all that it seems

Is there no hope for us?  Even the one man who should be above going off half cocked on all things planning – unlike certain ministers – has yet again allowed his name to be put to a piece of headline grabbing psuedo-localism.  This time in the form of another letter to all local planning authorities. 

The letter said: “…the Government is changing some of the text in Planning Policy Guidance 13: Transport (PPG13) to better reflect localism. The Government’s position on parking standards is that local authorities are best placed to take account of local circumstances and are able to make the right decisions for the benefit of their communities. As such, the central requirement to express ‘maximum’ parking standards for new residential development has been deleted.”

Parking standards will still need to be set, but it will be for local authorities to determine what that standard should be.

Wrong!  As pointed out by a planning professional in a recent email, what the chief planner has said, especially the bits in bold,  are just empty words, when it comes to any form of localism on this issue, because he has ‘conveniently’ forgotten to delete another bit of PPG13 that says:

Parking

50. In developing and implementing policies on parking, local authorities should:

2.  not require developers to provide more spaces than they themselves wish, other than in exceptional circumstances………’

So, having rushed to my copy of the Local Plan and scrawled out all references to  a maximum parking standards in residential development, in order to reduce the amount of pavement parking and front gardens being lost to parking places, I find that the developer is still able, with the blessing of government, to tell me to get stuffed!  Another victory for the localism agenda.