Appeal Success for New Drive-Thru Restaurant, Bridgend

Project: Burger King Drive-Thru Restaurant
Location: Waterton, Bridgend
Client: JA Lewis Development Consulting
Services: Transport Planning

Adaptive and Outcome-Driven Approaches

The Project

The proposal comprised a new Burger King Drive-Thru restaurant located within an existing car park of a DIY (Wickes) store in the Waterton area of Bridgend, adjoining the A48 Bypass Road.

DPP Planning on behalf of JA Lewis Development Consulting called upon the expertise of Calibro’s transport planning specialists to provide masterplan advice, technical highway capacity and sustainability assessments to help shape proposals to support a detailed planning application which was submitted in October 2020. However, despite clear evidence provided, Calibro provided Expert Witness to support an appeal against the Council’s refusal.

The Challenge

From a transport perspective, this should have been a relatively simple and straight-forward application. A drive-thru restaurant within an existing retail area that was explicitly recognised as a sustainable location with current policy. Moreover, physical improvements were being made to the Active Travel Route opposite which served to further enhance the active travel opportunities from the site, and there were already two other competing drive-thru restaurants within 100-metres of the site.

But that wasn’t to be – and that was okay, we’ve learned to expect and plan for the unexpected.

On this occasion, despite our best and most genuine endeavours to engage positively, the Local Highway Authority held a preconcieved view that was difficult to break-down, despite producing robust evidence that should have provided sufficient comfort for them to revise their approach.

Whilst we believe in what we do, we never criticise our peers for taking a different view. It is up to us, through our skill of persaution and evidenical techniques to convert them to our way of thinking. However, in this instance, a perception had clearly been taken which no evidence could overcome.

It was therefore clear from a very early stage that we would need to prepare the application for a possible appeal. This was bourne out in a refusal of the planning application on highway safety and sustainability grounds, and this was tested at apppeal in March 2023.

We believe in our arguments. It’s up to us, through our skill of persaution and evidential techniques, to convert them to our way of thinking.

The Solution

Evidence & Transparency

Anticipating that the scheme might need to be determined at Appeal, we advised our client that we should not only double-down on the rigour of our assessment but that we should make a point of being seen to be the party willing to engage, compromise and adapt throughout the process. That would no doubt be found more palatable to an Inspector where the counter position had been more obstructive and less open to resolution – and this setting us up to take a more professional, objective tone to any appeal proceedings.

But it wasn’t just for strategy reasons. Our business is built around a number of values, including transparency and openness. This extends to the way we approach our work and engage with our peers. This doesn’t mean conceding to unreasonable requests. It means engaging in a dialogue to understand the issues  in the hope of finding a commercially optimum solution.

Accepting our advice, we were commissioned to provide a detailed Pedestrian Environment Review (PERS) audit to assess the quality of the footpath infrastructure in the immediate vacinity of the site, enabling an evidencial and objective approach to be taken to address concerns the Authority had regarding the safety of pedestrian crossing movements. This identified one of the crossings on one of the junction approaches to be substandard and using the same software, we were able to identify a modest, targeted and cost-effective improvement that brought it to an acceptable standard.

Additional third-party data was also referenced where possible, including STRAVA heatmaps which were used to show the relative level of pedestrian and cycle use on the local network which, when combined with accident data, helped to demonstrate that there was exisiting high levels of walking and cycling in the area, and using the crossing that was of concern to the Authority, without a negative impact on safety.

Our constant focus on the end goal was rewarded during the Appeal when we were able to walk the Inspector through each stage of the process, drawing reference to objective and sometimes independant analyses, to create a clear and compelling narrative as to the adequacey of the proposals. The Council not only failed to counter this narrative but the Inspector criticised them for the lack of evidence and proper assessment.

The Conclusion

The Appeal was Allowed in April of 2023 and, after taking into account representations by Calibro and the wider team, it was deemed the Council had behaved “unreasonably” by the Inspector who allowed a full award of costs.

In the Inspector’s report on costs read:

“I acknowledge the A38 is a busy road and pedestrians need to cross with care. However, the council produced no technical evidence, by way of data or studies to support the assertion that the level of traffic or highway geometry on the A48 is such that it is a barrier to pedestrians reaching the shops and services on its southern side.”

It added: “Turning to capacity, in its appeal statement and at the hearing, the council’s position was to attempt to rubbish the appellant’s evidence. Until the submission of the amended costs rebuttal the council produced no evidence of its own to support its arguments that the local highway network could not accommodate the traffic generated by the proposed development.”

Speaking of the success, Alex Lewis of JA Development Consulting said:-

“Despite the lengthy planning process, Calibro’s advice throughout has held true and their positive approach to working with the team means we are now able to move this important site forwards.”

I’ve been impressed with the energy that Calibro has brought to this project. From first getting under the skin of emerging policies and identifying place-driven solutions to the access strategy – all have allowed us to put together a unique offer in the context of Cranbrook.

They’ve broken down the problems and solutions into bitesize chunks which has made my life easier in making decisions that protect value in the project. I certainly feel we had the right consultants on this project.

Redrow Homes
Planning Director

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