Thursday, 27 November 2008

Background to the bodge.

During the late 80's the council gave a developer planning permission for a new development of houses adjacent to my property. Unfortunately they allowed the developer to build up the level of the development in the vicinity of my property by some 2 feet and move the planned road closer to my property than that shown on the approved plan. I offered to sell the developer the extra land necessary for them to complete the highway to safe and adoptable standards but they refused.


I brought the problem to the attention of the council and the highway authority on numerous occasions during the early 90s. They failed to take any enforcement action and allowed the developer to carry on building and selling houses. During 1992 they signed a section 38 road adoption agreement with the developer in the full knowledge that the highway was being constructed in the wrong position and that the developer didn't own the land necessary to complete the works to the planned and now insured/bonded standards. Although the developer was in further breach of the adoption agreement in 1994 the council continued to allow the developer to complete phase 2 of the development, this time without a road adoption agreement at all.

During 2004 some 7 years after they had sold all the properties on both phases the company was dissolved leaving two unfinished roads and no play area or open space. During 1997 I was approached by the council and told I would have to accept the highway impacting on my land. I offered to sell them the necessary land to complete the works to safe and adoptable standards but they refused. During 2001 the Council triggered the Section 38 Agreement insurance bond in an attempt to complete the works. On this occasion they produced a cobbled together hybrid plan. Part step at the boundary of my property part ramp on my property and part bodging of the roadway. Essentially the worse possible scenario. I again offered to sell them the land on which to complete the works to safe and normal standard but the refused. Their solicitor stating that they wanted a zero cost solution. I partially self abated the works to protect my property, legal and human rights and intend to do so again if necessary.

During November 2008, rather than amicably resolve the problem so they could complete the highway to safe and adoptable standards the council chose to further bodge the highway, particularly the footway adjacent to my property.

Summary: Between 1990 and 2004 neither the Planning Authority nor the Highway Authority took any enforcement action against the Developer. So the highway is bodged in the vicinity of my property because they allowed a developer to build and sell houses without taking any prudent action to protect their interests. To overcome their self created difficulties they decided to bodge the road and risk pedestrian's lives rather than face up to the consequences of their imprudent action and buy the necessary land so the highway can be completed to inherently safe standards.

The photo below shows the position after the council's aborted attempt to complete the highway during 2001. The red line shows the original planned and approved extremity of the highway. (The back edge of the planned footway before the developer moved the whole highway closer to my property. My boundary is also shown on the original plans abutting the edge of the footway. The two fence posts accurately mark the position of my boundary and the edge of the footway as originally planned and approved. This boundary was agreed with the Developer in 1990 and up until 2004 when the Company was finally dissolved they had never made any attempt to dispute it. I think the reason why they didn't buy the extra land, necessary to complete the road in the wrong position, was because they knew they could sell all the houses on the development and walk away from the problem before the council took any kind of enforcement action.


The photo below was taken just after the council marked out their latest bodge on the ground prior to work commencing. Essentially, instead of buying the land and completing the highway to safe and normal adoptable standards, they decided to save money and skirt around the problem by bodging the highway instead.


The photo below shows the footway sloping and twisting to overcome the problem of completing the works without buying any land. You can also see the lack of super-elevation on the outside of the bend on this photo.

Similar to above but at the opposite side to the vehicular crossing. Again you can also see the lack of super-elevation on the outside of the bend.


The photo below shows the finished bodge. The yellow lines help to highlight the level change whilst the yellow arrows help to highlight the directions of the twists and slopes. When you take into account this is a Class 3 A Local Distributor road (That's only one step below a national classified road), their bodge is on the outside of a bend that has not been properly super elevated and the dropped kerb is wider than the road itself it's clearly a bodge too far. To put the dropped kerb into perspective I calculated that it's actually wider than a 3 lane motorway.


Note that the work they recently carried out ends at the boundary shown on the original approved plan. That's proves that up until they carried out the works 20th to 25th November 2008 Cheshire County Council also accepted the boundary agreed between us and and the Developer during 1990.

The ironic twist in the tail: The council has clearly ended up with a bodged and unsafe highway. Just compare the two photos above. To achieve this they wasted 11 years, hundreds of man hours and spent more money over the years than it would have cost to amicably resolve the problem and complete the works in 1997 to the original approved and normal highway standards. Just a shame they resorted to legalistic threats instead of trying to resolve their problem amicably in 1997, again in 2001 and again in 2008! One day they may realise that legalistic threats, intimidation and bullying are not necessary the most cost effective ways to resolve their problems. Or maybe not! They have proven they are daft enough to try anything.

Still that's public authorities for you. At the end of the day it's not their own money they are wasting so why should they worry? Haringey Council recently spent over £8,000 on legal advice trying to save £250 so the tactic of wasting tax payer's money is clearly not unique to Cheshire County Council. In addition, if they had permitted the developer to reduce the standards of the planned highway in 1994 to those they have recently implemented, the highway could have been adopted 14 years ago.

Fault 9: No specific risk assement carried out.

If a Highway Authority depart from guidance they should carry out a specific risk assessment and record the results with the full reasons they departed from guidance to establish a full audit trail in case an accident occur in the future.

Cheshire County Council argue that they have not departed from guidance and as such didn't need to carry out a specific risk assessment. However, you only have to walk along the highway in question and read the relevant guidance documents/codes of practices to realise there has been a significant departure from guidance.

NOTE: the developer was refused permission to do something similar on at least three seperate occasions between 1991 and 1997. I was at one of the meetings when the council turned the developer down. The reason given: It would be unsafe and in any event it was a significant departure from guidance.

This is what another County Council has to say about safety and risk: 'In the event of an accident it may be possible for an individual to make a substantial claim in negligence against the County Council if an incident could be linked to a decision taken against the outcome of a Safety Audit. In addition it could be argued that the County Council as Highway Authority has breached its statutory duty to assert and protect the rights of the public in taking such a decision. Any fatality could also give rise to a prosecution of the County Council for corporate manslaughter.'

Corporate Manslaughter against Highway Authorities will be considered by the Police in accordance with The Road Death Investigation Manual Version 2 2004. Extracts below.

'Road geometry: This will ultimately have an effect on the perceptions and actions of a road user. Roads are required to be designed to national standards for alignment and visibility, although many of the more recent standards were not required to be retrospectively applied to existing roads. It is important therefore to consider provision against the appropriate standard of design during any investigation.'

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Fault 8: Pedestrian entrapment (example 2)

Highways Act 1980, Safety Provision, Section 66 (1): It is the duty of a highway authority to provide in or by the side of a highway maintainable at the public expense by them which consists of or comprises a made-up carriageway, a proper and sufficient footway as part of the highway in any case where they consider the provision of a footway as necessary or desirable for the safety or accommodation of pedestrians; and they may light any footway provided by them under this subsection.

Highways Act 1980, Safety Provision, Section 66 (8): A highway authority or council shall pay compensation to any person who sustains damage by reason of the execution by them of works under subsection (2) or (3) above.

Planning guidance and codes of practice call for a minimum width of relatively level footway so wheel chair users can safely navigate the footway. Cheshire County Council have left no level footway forcing Wheel chair users into a choice between
  • Use the adverse sloping footway and risk tipping over or sliding down the slope.
  • use the road and risk being hit by a car.
  • cross the road on the bend so they can continue their journey on a level footway.
For some idiotic reason Cheshire County Council only put a dropped kerb on the footway at one side of the adverse slope [Photo B], thus allowing wheel chair users access to the road but failed to do the same on the other side of the adverse slope [Photo A], thus denying them the chance to rejoin the footway. Therefore,wheel chair users are forced to continue along the road until they reach a neighbours dropped kerb so they can rejoin the footway.

This is a significant and totally unnecessary risk for Cheshire County Council to place on wheel chair users.

Ironically
their plan shows a dropped kerb at both sides of the adverse slope. So they can't even be trusted to complete the works to their own plan.

Design Bulletin 32 also states that a minimum width of 900 mm should be carried through past drives etc. to allow wheelchairs / prams to pass and avoid the ramps to dropped kerbs;

Fault 7: Driver entrapment (example 2)

Sudden change of level. The crossing gradient exceeds the normal maximum allowed and drivers are faced with a significant change in level within 3 metres of the carriageway.

These are the Vehicular Access Standards some UK planning authorities insist on for accesses to a single dwelling.

10.1) None Rural Roads: The gradient of the access shall not normally exceed 4% over the first 10m outside the public road boundary (see section 13.4 for accesses onto trunk roads). The remainder of the access should have a gradient less than 10% so that it may be used during wintry weather. [4% = a 1 in 25 gradient, 10% = a 1 in 10 gradient.]

This is a significant and totally unnecessary risk for Cheshire County Council to place on road users but in particular those visiting my property with a vehicle.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Fault 6: Driver entrapment (example 1).

Cheshire County Council's unapproved and bodged crossover forces drivers into an unnecessary delay before reaching a decision whether to
  • attempt to traverse the adverse crossover or,
  • park on the carriageway and continue on foot.
Vehicles now take longer than is normally necessary to access my property thus creating a danger on the bend for other road users.

This is a significant and totally unnecessary risk for Cheshire County Council to place on road users.

Fault 5: Pedestrian entrapment (example 1).

Highways Act 1980, Safety Provision, Section 66 (1): It is the duty of a highway authority to provide in or by the side of a highway maintainable at the public expense by them which consists of or comprises a made-up carriageway, a proper and sufficient footway as part of the highway in any case where they consider the provision of a footway as necessary or desirable for the safety or accommodation of pedestrians; and they may light any footway provided by them under this subsection.

Highways Act 1980, Safety Provision, Section 66 (8): A highway authority or council shall pay compensation to any person who sustains damage by reason of the execution by them of works under subsection (2) or (3) above.

Cheshire County Council's unapproved and bodged footway forces pedestrians, during icy conditions, to chose between three significant risk factors.
  • Use the adverse sloping footway and risk falling or,
  • use the road and risk being hit by a car or,
  • cross the carriageway on the bend so they can continue their journey on a level footway.


Design Bulletin 32 also states that a minimum width of 900 mm should be carried through past drives etc. to allow wheelchairs / prams to pass and avoid the ramps to dropped kerbs;

This is a significant and totally unnecessary risk for Cheshire County Council to place on an able bodied pedestrian let alone a disabled or elderly pedestrian.

Fault 4: Adverse sloping footway (example 1).

This is a significant and totally unnecessary risk for Cheshire County Council to place on an able bodied pedestrian let alone a disabled or elderly pedestrian.

The original planned and approved roadway design has a 1.8 metre wide footway separated from the road by a 2 metre wide verge. With a very slight cross fall to the road for drainage purposes.

The cross section drawing below illustrates typical footway construction adjacent to a carriageway. The carriageway is on the right. The boundary to private property is on the left. Note the slight fall to the road for surface water drainage purposes.


On their finished but unapproved roadway the footway has been sloped to accommodate a vehicular crossing which is not only in breach of normal road design guidance it is also in breach of their own Pedestrian Access & Mobility Code of Practice:

'Crossovers are locations where the kerb has been lowered to allow vehicular access over the footway. If footway width is less than 3m, the slope of the vehicle crossover should extend to the back of the footway.'

The footway is less than 3 mtrs but Cheshire County Council have sloped the vehicle crossing to the front of the footway. Leaving no flat and safe surface for pedestrians to walk on.

Footway - the pedestrian part of the highway adjacent, or close, to the carriageway.
General guidelines:
  • Minimum footway of 2000mm width, free of obstructions.
  • Footways to be provided on both sides of the carriageway.
  • Footways and footpaths to be firm, even, level and slip-resistant even when wet.
  • Joints should be closed and flush to prevent the trapping of canes or small wheels.
  • For further guidance on footway requirements refer to the Cheshire County Council Design Aid document (section1). However, criteria described in this document supersede criteria in the County Council Design Guide.
Design Bulletin 32 also states that a minimum width of 900 mm should be carried through past drives etc. to allow wheelchairs / prams to pass and avoid the ramps to dropped kerbs;

In addition, Cheshire County Councils own design aid states that the outer edge of the footway must present a smooth flowing alignment. It is not acceptable to undulate the footway outer edge to accommodate private drives. The crossfall should be towards towards the edge of the carriageway. The maximum gradient of a footway should not exceed 1 in 12.

Fault 3: No adequate super-elevation on the bend.

The carriageway was completed with a adverse camber on the bend rather than being super-elevated as originally planned and approved. Unfortunately this bodge was done after the gulleys for a super-elevated bend had been installed. As a result the carriageway now has an adverse camber on the bend with gulleys and drains for a super-elevated carriageway geometry.

Designing curves for safety: Cant, camber or super-elevation, is the difference in elevation of two road edges. Designers ensure that a curved road is sloped so it is higher on the outside of the curve. Super-elevation allows part of a vehicle’s weight to assist in maintaining a circular path. It reduces the required amount of side friction between the tyres and road surface when driving a circular path. This is important for the safety and comfort of all road users. The amount of super-elevation depends mainly on the operating speed of the curve and the curve radius, with more super-elevation applied on tighter curves. However, with the need to drain water off the road surface there is a minimum amount of super-elevation applied to all curves.

There are many factors limiting how much super-elevation to use, including:
  • stability of high laden commercial vehicles
  • stability of loads on trucks
  • tendency of the rear wheels of slow moving vehicles to track towards the centre of the turn
  • appearance, particularly in flat terrain and in urban areas
  • effect on out-of-control vehicles leaving the inside of the curve
  • tendency of vehicles to slide on the road surface in frost/icy conditions
Cheshire County Council's own Design Aid states that a Local Distributor road with a curve radius of less than 100metres shall have a super-elevation of 4.0%.

The curve radius on the bend in the vicinity of my property is about 60metres the super-elevation is practically none existent.

Fault 2: No lane widening on the bend.

The original approved plans clearly show lane widening on the bend in line with the design requirements for a Local Distributor Road, see below.

'A carriageway width of 6.75 metres is required. Long straight roads which encourages higher traffic speeds and are visually monotonous, are not acceptable and a flowing alignment of curves is preferred with a minimum centre line radius of 60 metres. Lane widening is required on bends and if a bus router should be bus bays at every stop, designed in accordance with the recommendations in “Roads in Urban Areas”.'

The planned and approved lane widening has not been carried out.

Although Cheshire County Council charges for copies of their Design Aid many other County Councils provide free access on-line. North Lincolnshire is one such County Council. When you consider that all County Council Design Aids are derived from the same sources you will appreciate why County Council Design Aids are very similar.

For a similar road to Rookery Rise in North Lincolnshire the following standards would apply.

Carriageway Width .. .. .. .. 6.75 metres.
Carriageway widening .. .. .. .. Increased to 7.3 metres on bends of less than 75 metres centre line radius.
Horizontal alignment .. .. .. .. Minimum centre line radius 60 metres.

Footway width .. .. .. .. .. 2 metres.
Footway crossfall .. .. .. .. .. 2.5% (1 in 40)

Rookery Rise carriageway width is 6.75 metres and the bend in the vicinity of my property has a centre line radius of about 60 metres but the carriageway has not been widened to 7.3 metres on the bend as shown on the original approved plans.

Cheshire County Council's own published design aid states that road widening on the bend of the road in the vicinity of my property should be at least 0.75 metre. [0.75m is about 2 feet 6 inches.]

They also state that horizontal alignment shall be constructed to within plus or minus 13 mm of design and vertical alignment shall be constructed to within plus or minus 6mm. [13mm is about 1/2 an inch and 6mm is about 1/4 inch]

Cheshire County Council's Design Aid states that carriageway construction shall be designed in accordance with the principles laid down in the Highway Agency Standards; Design Manual for Road and Bridges Volumes 1 to 10.

Volume 6, Section 1, Part 1 TD 9/93 Highway Link Design includes information on carriageway widening.

Fault 1: No planning permission.

Cheshire County Council failed to apply for necessary planning permission to amend the original and approved design of the incomplete highway. They did this to avoid independent scrutiny of their bodged design. They may be exempt under the Town and Country Planning Act for any minor works they carry out to repair, maintain or improve an adopted highway, however, they were not repairing, maintaining or improving an adopted highway when they carried out the works in question. They were trying to complete a new highway, not yet adopted, to an altogether different and much lower standard to the plans originally approved by the planning department, bonded by the Developers insurance company and attached to the section 38 road adoption agreement. See photos above.

I did submit a complaint to the planning enforcement section at Vale Royal Borough Council only to be told that because the road is an adopted highway Cheshire County Council don't need planning permission. However, that totally ignores the fact that when the highway was bodged by Cheshire County Council it wasn't an adopted highway. I have asked for an explanation and review of their decision. Their response should be interesting!