Report to AGM 2012






At the AGM last year, I agreed to consider planning applications to see if they may have cycling implications. I do this on behalf of CPRE already and adding a further dimension is no problem. I concentrate on County Durham but if my attention is brought to any other application in an area where we regularly cycle, I would consider it. By and large, I have interpreted this to mean the old County Durham between the Tyne and the Tees.

As members may be aware, The Times has run a “Cities fit for Cycling” Campaign this year, following a serious accident involving one of its reporters last year. That Campaign covers a range of issues but includes planning ones. It has been debated in Parliament, is still very live in that it regularly features in the paper and has received widespread political support from all Parties.

From a cycling point of view, I have concentrated on large scale housing (say over 100 houses) applications and similar commercial types of applications. i have sent 3 letters specifically on behalf of the Club to Durham in respect of housing applications at Aykley Heads in Durham City and High Rigg in Barnard Castle and the commercial application to extend retail facilities at Tindale Crescent. In these I have specifically mentioned the safety issues raised by The Times campaign.

The High Rigg application has been approved and my cycling representations were considered but the officer stated that there was sufficient capacity in the road system so that my representations for certain safety issues were not needed.

Local authorities are now also producing their Core Strategies and Preferred Options for future Local Plans. These include sustainable transport (which obviously includes cycling) to comply with national policy. I have commented on some draft proposal in a document prepared by South Tyneside, largely to support them but also to add some comments.

In addition, Durham County Council has now produced a Cycling Strategy. This deals with many issues such as cycle training and safety issues but also includes provisions that are relevant for planning policies. I made representations to the draft document on behalf of the Club and am now attending a Forum that is looking at specific issues that follow from it, however, although the Strategy is County wide, the Forum is concentrating on Durham City.

The County has now released its Preferred Options for consultation. I will be considering these with a view to making comments on behalf of the club. As with South Tyneside, I anticipate I am likely to support many of them but want to check that it does include meaningful provisions that will lead to concrete cycling issues that need to be considered in future planning applications. I shall want to check that the Cycling strategy is mentioned as a relevant Planning document for consideration. I shall also want to comment that, if the country wants us to get out of our cars and onto our bikes, we need to show a much more enlightened attitude than is shown by the officers in the High Rigg report above.

Finally, I may not have specifically written on behalf of the Club but I have referred to cycling issues in a number of other planning applications when I have written on behalf of CPRE. CPRE is interested in sustainable transport issues and if cycling is more a general issue I have not sent a further Club letter. I have, for example, referred to cycling issues in respect of the housing applications at Auckland Park and on the other side of the A688 at Bracks Farm and, in Spennymoor, on the former Electrolux site, the retail development at North Bondgate, an application to renew planning permission for commercial development at Durham Green Bowburn, a caravan park extension in Gateshead but near Beamish Museum and in respect of a housing application at Mount Oswald in Durham City. I do not think any of these have yet been determined.

If anyone becomes aware of any planning application in our general area that may have cycling implications, they can bring it to my attention. I may be considering it already but better be notified twice than not at all!


Richard posted at 2012-11-14 Category: Local Cycling Issues