Hampshire County Council

Environment and Transport Select Committee Item 8A

24 March 2009

Scrutiny: Lyndhurst Bypass Review

Update on Progress of Scrutiny Panel and Cabinet Recommendations

Introduction

The Select Committee concluded its review on the Lyndhurst bypass in January 2008. The review made 10 recommendations, which formed the basis for the Cabinet's decision on future transport approaches for the village in March 2008.

The Executive Member for Environment updated the Scrutiny Panel on progress against each of the recommendations in July 2008 and the Director of Environment provided a second update in September 2008. This report provides a further update against each of the recommendations, labelled A-J below in accordance with the referencing of the original report.

Overview

The Council has continued to work actively on transport issues affecting Lyndhurst and had has made progress on a number of fronts. An `Intelligent Routeing' scheme has been introduced and will be operational for the summer holiday period. The scheme is described in more detail below.

The Council has established a steering group drawn from local stakeholders to review and coordinate the investigative work. As well as providing valuable local inputs and suggestions, this has also served to develop an understanding of issues and constraints locally. The group has met twice and is due to meet again on 26 March. It has contributed to the assessment of options and received presentations on modelling of potential junction improvements.

Recommendation A

`Hampshire County Council should exercise whatever influence it can,

either in its own right, or in partnership with other County Councils, to ensure that manufacturers of satellite navigation systems include road restriction information.'

Update

The County Council has existing contacts, through the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) group, with locally based `Sat Nav' companies. The issue has been highlighted with them. Although sympathetic to the issue, they point out that a targeted Sat Nav system would be essentially a niche market and involve additional cost to customers. Notwithstanding this concern, there is recognition that some operators may be willing to pay additional installation costs to avoid operational problems and in recognition of the goodwill potential.

Contact has also been made with Somerset and Suffolk County Council who are working on developing local trials of `lorry Sat Nav'. Progress on these and any other trials will be kept under review.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is aware of the issue at the national level. A report on consultation on `In-vehicle information systems' discusses the issue of Sat Nav for Heavy Vehicles (page 4) and highlights concerns raised about the issue. The report is available on line at - http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/archive/2007/ivisconsultationdocument/invehicleresponse#rightmenu

The County Council has also developed links with the Ordnance Survey, who provide base mapping for most Sat Nav providers. Complaints about unsuitable routeing of HGVs is reported and, where appropriate, amendments are made to the base maps. However, there is normally a time lag between these updates being made and appearing on individual systems because of updating processes.

The New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) has expressed an interest in trying to influence Sat Nav data. A meeting has been held to discuss initial aspirations.

Planned Future Work

As noted above, trials of `lorry Sat Nav' will be kept under review.

Further information or policy initiatives from the DfT will be assessed and followed up as appropriate.

Joint work will continue with the NPA to ensure that its aspirations are considered.

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Recommendation B

`Given current information from Lyndhurst traffic surveys about a large percentage of vehicles being local as opposed to through traffic, the review group would wish to see exploratory work on the potential for smarter travel choices in Lyndhurst reducing the need to travel by private car. A smarter choices strategy will be developed.'

Update

The focus of work to date, reflecting the steering group's priorities, has been on schemes to better accommodate and manage traffic through the village.

Notwithstanding the above, a scheme to improve pedestrian access to the primary school has been developed and is scheduled for implementation in the first quarter of financial year 2009/10.

The `Lyndhurst Links' scheme was trialled in summer 2008 and an amended trial scheme will run in 2009. The scheme provided a link between the rail stations at Brockenhurst and Ashurst to encourage train use for day and weekend visitors.

The New Forest Tour continues to provide a car free alternative option for visitors touring the southern New Forest during the summer holiday period.

Planned Future Work

Work on the development of a smarter choices strategy will be programmed for the future, once work on traffic management is completed.

Sustrans, the cycling and sustainable travel charity, is looking at a `TravelSmart' project centred on Lyndhurst in conjunction with the National Park Authority (NPA). TravelSmart is a project working with households offering tailor-made information and support, enabling people to walk, cycle and use public transport more often. It delivers reductions in car use by encouraging people to make a few realistic changes to their daily travel choices.

Sustrans has contacted the NPA and Hampshire County Council regarding this project and in particular seeking funding. The potential of this will need to be fully assessed before any decision is sought on funding.

Recommendation C

`As a short term measure Hampshire County Council should seek the cooperation of the Highways Agency to make the signage on the M27 and at Cadnam directed at Heavy Goods Vehicles more explicit regarding restrictions on Lyndhurst High Street.'

Update

Hampshire County Council commissioned a review of the signing of the existing 7.5 tonne HGV restriction signs on the approaches to Lyndhurst High Street. The review looked at the adequacy of existing signing and the need for any improvements/alterations.

The report concluded that all routes into Lyndhurst are adequately signed to warn drivers of the weight restriction along the High Street and the alternative route is clearly signed. In particular the study concluded that the primary routes, ie the M27 and A326, are well signed to direct HGVs to Lyndhurst along the A326/A35.

A survey in support of the study identified that only 11 vehicles over 7.5 tonnes in weight accessed the High Street in the 12-hour survey period. All 11 vehicles were in contravention of the restrictions.

Perhaps more significantly, the survey also found that a large number of larger sized medium goods vehicles accessed the zone, including a number accessing for loading purposes. Despite the fact that these vehicles are under 7.5 tonnes (and therefore exempt from any restrictions), they still have the appearance of large lorries and are likely to contribute to a perception that the village centre is heavily trafficked by HGVs.

Planned Future Work

The report identifies a number of repairs and minor modifications to the existing signing, which will be implemented in conjunction with future maintenance works.

Recommendation D

`Hampshire County Council should use its influence, together with partners, to support a review of the level of penalty fine for HGVs contravening the lorry restrictions to enhance its effect, and to ensure greater efforts are made by the police to enforce the restrictions.'

Update

The Department for Transport (DfT) has been contacted for advice on how the County Council might support a review of the existing penalty arrangements.

The Department advises that penalties for contravention of Traffic Orders are covered by Schedules attached to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1988 (specifically Schedule 2). The specific clause relates to contravention of all Orders, not just weight restrictions.

Planned Future Work

Further advice is being sought on the mechanisms for amending the Schedule.

If appropriate, there is scope to raise the issue through a national body, such as the Local Government Association or the CSS.

Recommendation E

`Hampshire County Council should put in place a communication plan which would make it clear to people what information they can expect to receive at the different stages of the work to resolve Lyndhurst's traffic problems, and how they can contribute to and inform this process.'

Update

Initial communications have been established through the setting up of the local steering group.

Draft communication plan has been prepared for discussion at the next meeting of the steering group (26 March). A copy of the draft plan is attached as an appendix.

Planned Future Work

The plan will be discussed at the steering group meeting to hear its ideas on how to best disseminate the plan to interested parties.

Recommendation F

`Outcomes from the planned Hampshire County Council led local engagement, and the further consideration of options identified in the 2007 Study Report, should be communicated to the Environment and Transportation Select Committee in summer 2008 as part of the scrutiny monitoring work of the committee.'

Update

The Executive Member for Environment updated the Scrutiny Panel by letter at the meeting on 3 July 2008. The letter detailed that he had established the local steering group, which first met in May 2008.

An update from the Director of Environment was provided in September 2008.

Planned Future Work

Although the terms of the recommendation have been met, in that it requested updates during summer 2008, this and further updates will be provided as required.

Recommendation G

`The review group recommends further trialling of the use of variable message signs on the M27 to direct drivers away from congestion hot spots in the New Forest such as Lyndhurst and routeing tourists to park and ride pick up points for the New Forest open top tourist bus. Detection equipment has been installed to enable to variable message signs on the M27 to be operated to promote the alternative routeing to Lyndhurst in times of congestion.'

Update

Discussions with the Highways Agency (HA) on the Intelligent Routeing scheme has confirmed that it will only consider signing strategic destinations from motorways. This only allows for the signing of Lyndhurst as the local destination. Clearly this would preclude signing that directs motorists to specific pick-up points. Alternative forms of information and publicity will need to be developed for this purpose.

Equipment enabling the Intelligent Routeing scheme has been installed and is now operational. This comprises CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) equipment on the A337. This will be used to monitor journey times on the route which, in turn, gives an indication of building congestion on the route. CCTV images are displayed on the `Romanse' traffic information website and can be accessed via this link - http://www.romanse.org.uk/routes/a31s.htm.

Work is currently underway to establish journey time information thresholds for the triggering of Variable Message Signs (VMS) on the motorway to redirect traffic. At times of particular congestion on the A337 north of Lyndhurst, the VMS on the M27 will be turned on and direct traffic heading for Lyndhurst to leave at junction 2 (as opposed to junction 1). The Highways Agency have approved the following wording for the VMS signs on the M27: `For Lyndhurst use next junction' and on the signs east of Junction 3 'congestion in Lyndhurst'. Any trigger will need to take account of the Executive Member's indication that the focus should be primarily directed towards `incident management'.

Planned Future Work

The Intelligent Routeing scheme will be operational for summer 2009.

Future publicity and information for the New Forest Tour will include information on directions to pick up points. The issue will also be considered in future implementation of the communications plan (see above).

Recommendation H

`Hampshire County Council should prioritise New Forest wide approaches to traffic management with a view to known hot-spots such as Lyndhurst benefiting from such measures.'

Update

As noted above, the focus of work to date has been on schemes to better accommodate and manage traffic through the village, reflecting the steering group's priorities.

Planned Future Work

Comprehensive work on New Forest wide approaches would be best actioned through a review of the New Forest Transport Strategy. This is a substantial piece of work that will need to involve widespread consultation. It is envisaged that this will be programmed in the future, potentially to support the drafting of the next Local Transport Plan (LTP). The current LTP runs to 2011.

Recommendation I

`In the light of viability and deliverability issues examined, the review group could not support the prioritisation of either a Lyndhurst focused bypass or a new Forest wide bypass at the present time. Concerns are those connected with the costs over benefits, as well as those relating to environmental impacts, given the stringent tests associated with an Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Regulations, the potential adverse effects identified and the range of alternative measures that would be likely to have lesser environmental effect than a bypass, and have yet to be tested.'

Update

No action required.

Recommendation J

`The group supports the further exploration of the two package options

and the lower cost option of demand management measures, such as

junction improvements, one way system revisions etc. in the village, as

identified by Hampshire County Council/Mott Gifford.'

Update

In the light of representations received, The Cabinet resolved not to support the further exploration of the package options. Instead, it indicated that it did support the lower cost option of demand management measures, such as junction improvements, one way system revisions etc. in the village.

This part of the resolution has been the focus of the local steering group to date. A number of key issues have been considered or investigated through the group, including:

The Steering Group has met on 8 May 2008 and 11 September 2008 - Minutes of these meetings can be obtained from: highways-transport.west@hants.gov.uk. A further meeting has been arranged for 26 March 2009, the outcome of which can be reported to the Select Committee if required.

Planned Future Work

The steering group will continue to meet to assist in the development of traffic management options for Lyndhurst.

APPENDIX

Lyndhurst Traffic Management

Draft Communications Plan - March 2009

Background

Lyndhurst has long suffered from localised congestion, largely due to the constrained road network where a local bottleneck is created at the intersection of the A35 and the A337 in the High Street. A Scrutiny Panel has considered a number of options to tackle this and a decision on what improvements can be made to traffic management through the High Street will be made on 24 March.

This draft plan sets out some initial communications options but further detail will be worked up once specific options have been decided.

Aims

To ensure that timely information on proposed plans and development for traffic management measures in Lyndhurst are communicated clearly including:

Messages

Hampshire County Council has assessed the option of a by-pass around Lyndhurst and this is not currently viable due to the environmental impact it would have, costs outweighing the benefits, the area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and any scheme of this nature would impact on the ecology and environment.

Alternative measures to improve the air quality through Lyndhurst have been assessed. Measures will be assessed targeted at improving air quality in the village.

A steering group has been set up with representatives from the Parish Councils, the District Council, the National Park Authority, the business partnership and the residents' association.

NB: Once an option is decided, further key messages on what the benefits will be resulting from the implementation of that option will be included here.

Audience

Timeline

Date

Process

communication

March

Decision made by Environment and Transport Select Committee on what option will be taken forward

Dedicated Hantsweb pages set up and updated

Information provided to parish councils etc

TBC

Consultation process

Local exhibitions/ presentations to Parish Councils and other stakeholders

Web pages updated with links

Local press release to encourage people to respond to e-consultation

Newsletter/letter drops to businesses and residents directly affected

TBC

Review consultation responses

Local press release outlining how HCC responding to consultation responses

+ newsletter/letter drops to businesses and residents

TBC

Final scheme approve by Executive Member for Environment

Local press release giving information on final scheme

+ newsletter/letter drops to businesses and residents

TBC

Implementation of scheme

Local press release with details of works, phases, duration etc

+ newsletter/letter drops to businesses and residents

Works details updated on web pages

Special signage

Updates to local press and parish councils, website etc as scheme progresses

Communications Methods

Public Exhibitions at the Lyndhurst Community Centre

Parish Councils and Parish Magazines

Presentations to parish councils, authored article submitted to parish magazines and updated information to be sent to parish magazines to encourage people to participate in consultation, explain what elements of the scheme can be influenced, what outcome of decisions is, etc.

Hantsweb

The Lyndhurst scheme will have dedicated pages which outlines what decisions have been made, what the plans are, when these will be put in place, and will link to relevant public reports and meetings elsewhere on Hantsweb, links to press releases.

Press Releases

Press releases will be issued to local press and radio to communicate key events to the community, such as consultation and exhibitions, and notice in advance of works beginning in order that people are informed of any possible disruption, and how long it will last etc. All press releases are put on Hantsweb media centre pages.

Newsletters/Letter Drops

Timely information will be provided to businesses and residents directly affected by the proposed works.

Possible New Signage