Monday, 14 October 2019

Raising of speed limit to 40mph challenged in court

Raising of speed limit to 40mph challenged in court

THE speed limit on part of the main road through Shiplake could go back down to 30mph just weeks after it was increased to 40mph.

The limit on the A4155 between the Tower House care home and the turn-off to Mill Lane was raised last month by Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority.

This followed a campaign by Shiplake Parish Council, which said faster speeds would encourage people to brake at the sharp bend just before the turn-off and also discourage “tailgating”.

Now a developer hoping to build flats for the elderly to the south of the 345m section is challenging the move at the High Court, saying it was denied the opportunity to comment and would have opposed it. Retirement Villages Group is appealing against South Oxfordshire District Council’s refusal of its scheme for 65 “extra care” units on a field opposite the Haileywood Farm industrial estate.

A public inquiry ended on Tuesday last week.

The firm says the council, which objected to its scheme on highways grounds, did not inform it of the impending increase despite the fact that talks between the two were taking place. It says it only became aware after the new limit came into effect on August 29.

The developer says the increase appears to conflict with the parish council’s concerns about elderly people living at the new flats having to walk alongside fast-moving traffic to get to the village centre.

It says Cllr Yvonne Constance, the county council’s highways member, advised against increasing the limit until the appeal was decided but this was ignored.

As a result, it had to conduct new speed surveys in the run-up to the appeal, although these showed the proposed access arrangements didn’t have to change.

Christopher Young QC, representing Retirement Villages Group, told the inquiry: “The decision to increase the limit on such a short stretch of road immediately outside the appeal site, and the support for that decision by the parish council, was surprising.

“When a review of speed limits was undertaken by the county council in 2010, the parish council had strongly objected to any increase to 40mph. It was strongly opposed by the village’s county councillor and 59 members of the public. During the course of our planning and appeal processes, neither the appellant nor the county council commented that there was a need to increase the limit.”

Mr Young said there had been no serious accidents in the past 10 years, although the parish council says there were several, including one fatal collision, in the decade before that.

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