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Modal Highway Consultants Ltd

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Understanding Access Feasibility Issues For Sites

As Transport Planning Consultants, Modal Group are increasingly being asked to look at the feasibility in being able to access parcels of land that the landowner would like to develop for residential use. The majority of these sites often come forward following on from the review and identification of potential residential sites by Local Authorities. In this article, Petros Price looks at the general requirements that both the Highway Authorities and/or Property Developers need to consider at the feasibility stage with regards to being able to satisfactorily access the land.

Why Should You Use Transport Planners at the Feasibility Stage?

Unfortunately, not all potential development sites have long road frontages or existing accesses that make accessing a site simple. In many cases, access frontage is limited or there are other issues that may have to be considered typically:-
 
image show a tick or check mark Bends in the road;
image show a tick or check mark Trees;
image show a tick or check mark Varying land gradients;
image show a tick or check mark Other housing or infrastructure; and
image show a tick or check mark Natural obstructions e.g. rivers and rocky outcrops

Transport planners or highway consultants will normally visit the site and consider all the above and other potential obstructions and advise the developer on suitable access locations. Planners like a challenge and have been known to successfully advise both developers and Highway Officers on how a site could be potentially accessed when on first inspection the Highway Officer has dismissed a site on grounds of inaccessibility.

How to Save Time and Money

By using a transport planner at the early feasibility stage, the developer can take professional advice on whether an access is possible, where it should be ideally located and if there are any constraints that may have a knock on effect in limiting the size of the development. This helps the developer make early decisions on site layout, and therefore minimise the time and cost associated in employing an architect to produce site layout plans that become void and need to be re-drawn following the planner’s advice.

What are the Basic Design Requirements?

The basic access requirements that transport planner will consider in order to satisfy the Highway Authority that an access is feasible are the following:-
 
image show a tick or check mark Visibility Splays, which are dependent on road speeds;
image show a tick or check mark 85th percentile speed Surveys, required for visibility splays and monitored over a 2 week period;
image show a tick or check mark Access Radii;
image show a tick or check mark Access road widths, varies depending on the number of residential units proposed; and
image show a tick or check mark Footway requirements
The transport planner will consider the above points to draw an access point (using CAD) and then pass these on to the architect who can then drop the access into their drawings. In the UK, it is good practice for the planner to consider the relevant requirements by also referring to the guidelines as set out in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB), Manual for Streets and (if available) the Local Highway Authorities Design Manual for residential roads.

What Next?

Once a developer has decided to develop their site and has an agreed point and form of access with which an architect has produced site layout plans, the transport planner can then look at the development proposals in more detail and consider the following:-
 
image show a tick or check mark Traffic surveys
image show a tick or check mark Assess and prepare Transport Statements or the more detailed Transportation Reports;
image show a tick or check mark Assess the impact of increased car usage on the local highway network and advise if existing highway infrastructure needs to be modified;
image show a tick or check mark Consider non-car accessibility, eg on-foot, by bicycle or bus;
image show a tick or check mark Prepare and write Travel Plans;
image show a tick or check mark Negotiate and liaise with the Local Highway Authority; and
image show a tick or check mark Help prepare S278 and S106 agreements.

At what stage should a Road Safety Audit be carried out?

In many instances, architects or other highway consultants may have already produced an access. In such a case, it may be necessary to get suitably trained professionals to carry out an independent road safety audit, looking at the safety of a junction through the eyes of all road users (drivers, pedestrians, cyclists etc). Though a junction can be designed to all relevant design standards, there are often design issues that may result in the increased potential for accidents to occur. Therefore many Highway Authorities now require an independent road safety audit to identify any safety issues. Learn more about our Road Safety Audit Services.

To discuss any access feasibility issues regarding a UK scheme, please phone 015398 86015 and ask to speak to Petros or you can contact us via the website at Traffic Consultants.