Darley Park Path update

Darley Park Path update

Darley Park Path - controversial proposal
Going to Planning Committee 15 February 2018
"Construction of a multi user path and ancillary works", Ref:  05/17/00567

The August 2016 consultation for an all-user path through Darley Park did not make explicit the intention to provide for cyclists, but local residents were concerned that the accommodation of cycling at speed would put at risk our special Park.
We now know that the proposed path is intended for use by commuters and distance cyclists, from documents submitted in support of the Application.
When the original Planning Application was made, serious concerns were expressed by many local residents, Historic England, and the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Panel, specifically about the width of the path which was seen as out of keeping with the historic Park and unnecessary due to the existence of the Sustrans Routes to the east of the river for commuting and distance cyclists.
Since the original Application, additional documents have been lodged with the intention of allaying those concerns while seeking to justify the provision of a 3 metre wide path.  In our opinion these documents fail to meet this ambition:
The path's 3 metres width will not be in keeping with the historic Park. 
The Historic England initial consultation response said: ". . .the standard (non-context sensitive) width proposed is likely to feel heavy handed if executed to this specification. . . . ."  The path's width has not been reduced - in defiance of advice from Historic England, and against the recommendations of the Council's Conservation Areas Advisory Committee.
The path's 3 metres width will still create a number of safety hazards:
There remains the hazardous mix of fast-moving cyclists, with other Park users, including young children and dogs.  The proposals now show palisade fencing along the path edge where it abuts the play area, to solve this problem; however, in practice, it is likely that this will just move the problem further along the path, adding the extra risk of collisions between speeding cyclists, pedestrians, and the fence.
Also, North-bound, commuting or long-distance cyclists will emerge from the Park and its car park, wanting to travel along Darley Street – in the face of on-coming one-way traffic.
The need for the path to accommodate commuting or long-distance cycling has still not been justified.
The Application makes no reference to the nearby Sustrans Routes which run to the east of the river, even though DfT guidance requires an assessment of options for meeting the needs of commuting or distance cyclists, before combining them with pedestrians.  Instead, the 'Path width and design reasoning' paper gives a false alternative of banning cyclists from the new path, which it suggests would be discriminatory.  In our view recreational leisure and family based cycling would be in keeping with an all-user path, but fast moving commuters and distance cyclists would not.  Encouraging fast moving cyclists to use the Sustrans Route, for their own safety and that of pedestrians, children and dogs, would not be discriminatory, but it would be consistent with DfT guidance. 
There are sound reasons for believing that a 2 metre wide path would be adequate as well as appropriate.
DfT guidance advises that "Shared use facilities have operated satisfactorily down to 2.0m wide with considerable use by pedestrians and cyclists".  If commuting and distance cyclists are encouraged towards the Sustrans Routes, there can be no doubt as to the adequacy of a 2 metre wide path. 
The DfT also advises that "it is important to ensure that shared facilities are not introduced in such a way as to discourage walking trips.  This is a vital component of DfT's shared use policy." 
A 2.0m wide path for recreational use, with commuting and distance cyclists encouraged towards the Sustrans Routes, would encourage rather than discourage walking trips.
In Conclusion
The Application still has serious flaws, which put at risk the amenity of one of Derby's most precious environmental and heritage assets.  Much of the support for the proposal has been generated by a website which posed a choice between a muddy puddle (photographed in the Park), and the provision of a new path for commuting and distance use, without any reference to the already existing Sustrans Routes.    It would be a travesty for this misrepresentation of the situation to result in the creation of an inappropriate path. 
We are urging that the path's width be restricted to 2 metres in keeping with its setting, and that commuting and distance cyclists be directed towards the adjacent Sustrans Routes for the safety of all concerned.
The Application will be considered by the Planning Control Committee on Thursday 15 February, meeting in the Council House Chamber at 6pm. 
This is a public meeting which residents can attend and witness the Committee's deliberations.

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