Transport Assessment (TA) Quality Checks

rob shepherd made this Freedom of Information request to Brighton and Hove City Council

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Dear Brighton and Hove City Council,

... Background

A Transport Assessment's analysis of the impact of new homes on local transport Infrastructure can involve detailed Traffic Modelling.

Interpreting results requires a degree of numeracy. Checking models may need mathematical/traffic model expertise.

Unlike many authorities B&HCC does not ask TAs to list the inputs to their Traffic Models or to perform common quality checks (e.g. GEH).

This means more hours and higher skill levels are needed to perform quite basic checks and often the basic information needed for independent expert review is not available.

(For example, a critical local bottleneck lane which is 2.1m wide was recently modelled as 2.6m wide. Rather than this very serious error being obvious from listed inputs, it had to be deduced by inverting the RR67 formula, a more skilled and time consuming process.)

This raises concerns as to whether enough skilled time is put into checking the quality of TAs and briefing the Planning Committee.

There is also a concern as to what effect, if any, serious errors raised by experts or by people with local knowledge, have on the Planning Process (i.e. how much skilled effort is put into evaluating these before briefing the Planning Committee.)

...
...

... Request for Information.

Taking as a recent example Planning Application BH2014/02589 and defining an expert as someone with good experience of traffic models (in particular of LinSig) who might reasonably be expected to understand (if not spot) the error listed above and its significance and a numerate person as someone with A-Level Mathematics or equivalent ... and focusing solely on the Traffic Model aspects of the TA (i.e. key assumptions, technical analysis and correctness of the representation of the results) .....

Considering FIRST the period between TA submission and the Transport Officer's feedback to the developer.

A1. How many expert hours were spent assessing the 300+ page TA?

A2. How many additional "numerate person" hours were spent assessing the 300+ page TA?

B1. How many expert hours were spent assessing the OBJECTIONS raised by that point in time? Were notes of the analysis recorded?

B2. How many additional "numerate person" hours of were spent assessing the objections raised by that time?

B3. How many queries about the Traffic Modelling were raised with the developer as a result of B1 & B2 (i.e. assessing the objections)?

Considering now the NEXT period up to preparation of the Planning Committee Briefing.

C1. How many additional expert hours of were spent assessing objections?

C2. How many additional "numerate person" hours were spent assessing objections?

C3. How many additional queries about the Traffic Modelling were raised with developer as a result of C1 & C2 (i.e. from assessing the objections)?

Considering now the WHOLE period between TA submission and preparation of the Planning Committee briefing,

E1. How many of the above objections required officials to obtain expert advice from outside B&HCC?

E2. Is that advice available for inspection?

Would the amount of expert time recorded in the responses to Questions A1, B1 and C1 be considered normal? If not, why not?

Yours faithfully,

rob shepherd

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

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rob shepherd left an annotation ()

The junctions at Woodingdean and Rottingdean are notorious local bottlenecks. Long delays and queues of hundreds of cars are reported daily on local Traffic reports.

The scale of problem can be independently verified using Google's Historic Traffic data (which averages data over several months) or from TomTom's more detailed database.

Nevertheless, the local authority has not seemed concerned when Transport Assessments report these queues as 10-22 cars long and assess the impact of new housing as improbably low, using inaccurate congestion figures. It has also not reacted to other serious errors in Assessments, raising concern about the quality of checking.

These junctions are close to the county boundary and the Strategic Road Network, so they are affected by changes outside as well as inside the local authority's boundary, but the picture presented in Transport Assessments and in the City Plan is weak in assessing this.

All this has caused concern to several local residents groups, concerns that have resulted in numerous planning objections based on ignoring local congestion and pollution including the impact on public transport, petitions to the council and meetings between resident groups and council officials.

After some 18 months of trying to get to the bottom of these problems and feeling there has been little progress, a number of FoI requests have been submitted to obtain information about the traffic data and planning procedures and skills that inform our local Planning/Highways Authorities.

The aim is to establish an agreed base of facts that will make future communication more productive.

This is one of those FoI requests.

Dear Freedom Of Information,

This request is now overdue.

May I remind you that the information is for an appeal due in the 1st week of Jan

Yours sincerely,

rob shepherd

Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

Thank you for submitting your Freedom of Information (FOI) request to
Brighton & Hove City Council.

 

We will respond to your request within 20 working days as stipulated under
the Freedom of Information Act (2000).

 

Regards,

 

Information Governance Team

Notice to recipient:
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for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed
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Freedom Of Information, Brighton and Hove City Council

 

 

Please find set out below the information in response to the above
request:

 

Considering FIRST the period between TA submission and the Transport
Officer's feedback to the developer.

 

A1. How many expert hours were spent assessing the 300+ page TA?

 

A2. How many additional "numerate person" hours were spent assessing the
300+ page TA?

 

This information is not recorded/held by the Council and therefore cannot
be provided.

 

B1. How many expert hours were spent assessing the OBJECTIONS raised by
that point in time? Were notes of the analysis recorded?

 

B2. How many additional "numerate person" hours of were spent assessing
the objections raised by that time?

 

This information is not recorded/held by the Council and therefore cannot
be provided.

 

B3. How many queries about the Traffic Modelling were raised with the
developer as a result of B1 & B2 (i.e. assessing the objections)?

 

No queries were raised with the developer or their consultants prior to
the Highway Authority producing their comments on the planning application
(late October 2014) and providing these to the planning case officer.

 

Considering now the NEXT period up to preparation of the Planning
Committee Briefing.

 

C1. How many additional expert hours of were spent assessing objections?

 

C2. How many additional "numerate person" hours were spent assessing
objections?

 

This information is not recorded/held by the Council and therefore cannot
be provided.

 

C3. How many additional queries about the Traffic Modelling were raised
with developer as a result of C1 & C2 (i.e. from assessing the
objections)?

 

Between the transport comments being submitted to the planning case
officer and the application being determined no queries were raised with
the developer or the applicant’s consultants solely as a result of
assessing objections made.  Queries were developed from assessing the
applicants submission, comments made by objectors and the relevant
transport officers experience in assessing Transport Assessments.  The
queries put to the developers consultant were based upon the transport
comments on the application; which are freely available on the planning
case file. 

 

Considering now the WHOLE period between TA submission and preparation of
the Planning Committee briefing,

 

E1. How many of the above objections required officials to obtain expert
advice from outside B&HCC?

 

All expert advice that was required to assess the Transport Assessment in
order to respond to the consultation on the planning application was
provided by Council Officers.

 

E2. Is that advice available for inspection?

 

All advice that has been provided to the planning case officer by the
Highway Authority in order to assess the application will be available on
the planning case file.

 

Would the amount of expert time recorded in the responses to Questions A1,
B1 and C1 be considered normal? If not, why not?

 

Information on the time spent assessing all aspects of the application is
not recorded/held by the Council and therefore cannot be provided.  Every
planning application is different and therefore will be assessed according
to its complexity, and the resources (staff and time) available to do so
based on other priorities and commitments.

 

 

 

 

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Notice to recipient:
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that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this
communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.

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Please consider the environment, only print out this email if absolutely
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