The Corporate Director Communities presented a report seeking Cabinet approval to proceed with the active travel route in view of the formal observations received in respect of the proposed improvements to the active travel route along a stretch of Cowbridge Road, in Bridgend, which formed part of the wider strategic Bridgend to Pencoed active travel route. The proposal was to create a permanent active travel facility, including improved crossing facilities, the widening of footways to become a shared walking and cycle route, as well as a reduction of the current speed limit along Cowbridge Road. This scheme was being funded by the Welsh Government under its Active Travel Fund programme. Observations to the proposals were received from local residents/adjoining landowners and local Councillors.
The Corporate Director Communities explained that two local Members and 19 local residents registered objections to the proposal, which had been summarised and included in Appendix 2 to the report. The proposed active travel route was considered vital as it was the final major link in the Pencoed to Bridgend active travel network which, in turn, would connect to the existing active travel network into Brackla, as well as NCN 885 which linked the town centre with Bridgend Railway Station, Broadlands and Tondu.
Officers considered all the observations regarding the proposals and arrived at final drawings for the proposed scheme. In post engagement discussions with local Members, it was agreed to exhibit the final drawings at Civic Offices to enable local residents on Cowbridge Road and other members of the public to view the proposals that would finally be implemented.
The Group Manager, Planning and Development Services outlined the concerns raised by residents and the BCBC responses as detailed in the report. He explained that a number of audits and risk assessments had been done and the scheme was considered to be fully compliant in safety terms. The benefits of implementing the scheme outweighed the concerns raised.
The Team Leader – Policy Development and Transport provided further information regarding on street parking, the proposal for an extra 53m of space where residents could park over 2 sections and the pinch point designed so that users would be cautious and cyclists would dismount.
Cabinet considered the officers’ comments in response to the observations and the final drawings to be exhibited.
The Corporate Director Communities assured Cabinet that the proposals were all very safe and this would be a compliant active travel route. The Leader stressed that safety was of the utmost importance and that safety assessments had been undertaken as on all schemes. The primary concern was for the safety of those using that route.
The Cabinet Member for Communities thanked the team for such a comprehensive report. Officers had clarified a number of points during their presentation. There was a similar example in Porthcawl and in all major cities across the UK. He had listened and read all the concerns raised and agreed with the proposals as presented.
The Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration stated that this was one more step towards a complete alternative travel route covering the whole of the County.
The Deputy Leader asked officers to clarify their response to concerns raised by a Member that there were no viable alternatives and he asked what alternatives were considered and how were they discounted. The Group Manager, Planning and Development Services replied that they
discounted the alternative to place the route on the other side of Cowbridge Road. That was the main alternative considered. There could have been other options but they could not offer the same capacity as Cowbridge Road. The Team Leader – Policy Development and Transport explained that when they did a consultation in 2015 and that was the route that was selected. Active Travel Guidance stated that the route must be direct and that settlements of 2000 or above must be connected by the most direct route possible and Cowbridge Road was the most direct route.
The Deputy Leader asked where the dismount signs would be located. The Team Leader – Policy Development and Transport replied that they would be placed around the corner of the property at number 79 and by the junction to the Asda link. WG accepted that these pinch points and constraints would exist. If this link was not provided, people would continue to cycle either on the carriageway or pavements and this would be dangerous. This scheme would give right of way to each user of the carriageway and this would be a big improvement over the existing situation. The Deputy Leader thanked the officers for their response.
The Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help shared that she was aware of residents who would use the route to get to work and that this would make a big difference to their safety and journey times. She asked how motorists would know when exiting the junctions, that they should check both directions. The Team Leader – Policy Development and Transport replied that there would be signs and cyclists had to stop if they saw vehicles leaving or entering properties. All road users had to be observant and careful. The Cabinet member for Social Services and Early Help asked if there had been any discussions with the college. The Team Leader – Policy Development and Transport replied that they did consult with the college and had held a session in the college. The college was a Travel Plan Champion and supported BCBC and they would work closely with the Council on both campuses.
The Leader referred to ward members concerns who had been diligent in representing their constituents and undertaken extensive correspondence with officers. One issue in particular was the deployment of an Active Travel Route along a series of junctions. Officers had said that there were examples in Wales and there was evidence that it was safe and people adapted and changed their behaviour. There were no guarantees but that design had been deployed successfully elsewhere. Also if the scheme progressed and there were issues, they would consider those and take appropriate action to mitigate those even though the design was considered to be safe. The Corporate Director Communities replied that it was a WG compliant Active Travel Scheme and it was quite normal to cross junctions and mitigations were in place. This was how it was delivered in Swansea and Cardiff and all other boroughs across Wales. If there were issues, it would be down to culture and changing behaviours and if necessary they would review and use guidance and signs.
The Cabinet Member for Communities suggested that the decision should be amended to reflect that Cabinet had noted and given due regard to the objections before deciding to proceed.
The Corporate Director for Communities confirmed that the purpose of the exhibition was to show that officers had listened to the concerns raised, amended and approved the plans and this was the final design that would be implemented.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
• Considered the objections received and responses made to the proposed Cowbridge Road active travel route.
• Noted and gave due regard to the objections and authorised the implementation of the Cowbridge Road active travel route that would complete the final major link in the Pencoed to Bridgend active travel network.
• Approved the final drawing.
• Approved that the final drawing be placed on public exhibition for a specific period.