A question of priorities

The UK’s health watchdog, NICE – the National Institute for Health and Social Care Excellence – has today (04/01/2019) proposed that walking, cycling and public transport be given priority over cars in future planning and development decisions.

In a wide-ranging set of proposals, they outline how “transport systems and the wider built environment can influence people’s ability to be active.”

A ‘desire path’ across the green, by Brinn’s Lane, Frogmore.

You can read more about their ideas in this BBC report by clicking here; or in this Guardian report by clicking here; or in this Daily Mail report by clicking here.

The ideas for clearer and more direct pathways and cycle routes resonate with much of the feedback we have already been picking up as we talk to people around Yateley, Darby Green and Frogmore about what would most improve things about getting around the area, as we consider what should go into a future neighbourhood plan.

‘Pedestrians crossing’ – but is it always easy enough? Pictured here: Darby Green Road.

It’s obviously all a question of priorities. One of the biggest issues facing the area in terms of getting around is congestion. You only have to look at the evidence gathered by Hart District Council in preparation for their draft Local Plan.

Buried in the document that you will find by clicking here (the Transport Evidence Base for Hart’s draft local plan), you will find some quite alarming figures for ‘V/C’ (Volume to Capacity) for the A327 as it heads from the Cricket Hill junction at the A30 to Junction 4a of the M3, and for the junction of the A30 and the B3272 as drivers head instead for Junction 4 of the M3. While it states that the practical capacity for a road is taken to be 90% for design purposes, these roads see figures of 100% – and well above into the the two peak periods, as anyone stuck in queues on Cricket Hill, or heading for the Meadows can testify. Our main roads are already beyond saturation point.

“Pedestrians in the road” – although that is to be expected, when it’s a rural lane like Stevens Hill. But should walking be given more of a priority elsewhere?

There are apparently some improvements already in the pipeline, often as a result of conditions previously placed on developers when they secured planning permission for developments in the area – you can read about some of them from pg. 45 onwards of Infrastructure Delivery Plan, prepared as part of the process preparing Hart’s draft Local Plan. But does it really add up to anything bigger? Is walking, cycling – and certainly public transport, given enough priority? Is there more we can do with our neighbourhood plan specifically for Yateley, Frogmore and Darby Green?

If we are ever to see any serious impact on congestion issues, perhaps we need to make more of a serious look at how we can help take more cars off the roads? This is obviously not a serious proposition when Yateley has no direct public transport link to either Fleet, or Farnborough mainline railway station – but surely it has to be something we consider when considering any future development, and what goes into the neighbourhood plan – and is why the ideas from NICE are a useful contribution.

For anyone interested, the full briefing paper which goes with the NICE proposals can be found by clicking here.

Top (L-R): Yogesh, Sue, Charlotte; Middle (L-R): Wilf, Mel, Di; Bottom (L-R): Camilla, Luke, Paul.

The group of residents from across Yateley, Darby Green and Frogmore (see above) who are looking at the issue of ‘Getting Around’ as we contribute to the neighbourhood plan for the area are interested in hearing from you if you have ideas about this and ‘getting around’ – whether it is to do with driving, cycling, walking or using public transport. You can contact Paul Simpson via paul@dutchHQ.com