Shared Use Road Schemes - Update

David Jones, Head of Planning, provides an update to his previous blog of 1st Aug 2018.

In an update to our previously published blog, David Jones, Head of Planning, has been monitoring the reaction of highway authorities to the suspension of guidance which formerly allowed the shared use of roads.

In my previous blog, I expressed the view that the Department for Transport (DfT) suspension of shared use surfaces should not apply to private drives (generally serving 2-5 dwellings).  Whilst I believe that it was not the DfT’s intent to require the provision of a separately de-marked pavement upon small private drives, the reaction of most highway authorities has been a blanket suspension of all shared use spaces (other than drives serving single dwellings). 

Where small schemes have been approved, they may proceed as per the approval, however it is uncertain how highway authorities will treat application for amendment  (requiring the submission of a new application).  Judging by the reaction of highway authorities to date, I expect some to seek amendment of the access, even where a previous approval exists with a shared use surface.  Undoubtedly, schemes will be subject to appeal and I suspect, high court challenge.  Thus, greater clarity should be forthcoming when appeal precedents determine the correct approach.

An unforeseen by-product of the DfT moratorium is the attitude of highway authorities to the provision of a new access onto an existing road, which does not have a footpath.  Many developments in villages will be served via an existing road network, which do not have footways. Some Highway authorities may thus, deem such villages incapable of accommodating any further development on the grounds that the existing road network is contrary to the DfT moratorium. I consider that such a change of policy would be contrary to central government objective to significantly boost the supply of housing.  In some rural areas of Devon and Cornwall, it would mean that large parts of those areas would be undevelopable.

A major concern of the development industry is the impact upon schemes which have been subject to a successful detailed planning application, but have not yet received technical approval for the proposed shared use adopted roads within the site.   The DfT guidance is clear that highway authorities should not be approving shared use highways.    This will require that schemes which have already been approved (planning) are re-planned, which could in turn, result in the density of the scheme being reduced or in some circumstances it may mean that the development cannot proceed.

Further updates will be issued as and when matters are clarified via case law and/or revised DfT guidance.   

For further information or to find out more about our Planning Consultancy services, you can contact David Jones here.

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