Planning application for road link between Leeds St and Princes Dock

Have you noticed the planning application for a road link between Leeds St and Princes Dock? Liverpool planning ref 18F/1419.

Whereas I have no problem with the link in principle – it is necessary I would think to deal with the new developments coming on the North Docks – it looks to me like an unreconstructed highways engineering solution. Plenty of analysis of vehicular r movements but not a lot for other concerns.

Some initial thoughts are:
It looked very much like a Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) style scheme – that unreconstructed Highway Engineer approach. It should be designed following the principles of the Manual for Streets (MfS2). The MfS principles include
Apply a user-hierarchy – with pedestrians at the top
Collaborative approach
Importance of the Community function
Inclusive environment – all ages, all abilities. Integrate not segregate
Support pedestrian and cyclist desire lines
Establish clear vision and design codes
Appropriate balance between needs of different groups
Networks of streets for permeability and connectivity
Street character types
Quality auditing process
Design for vehicle speeds to stay <20mph
Minimum of highway design features

Hierarchy of Attention
Not much sign of those above-mentioned principles here, for example the Transport Assessment starts with the vehicular transport details – suggesting that the hierarchy is not being looked at the right way round. Further on, there are lots of figures and analysis of vehicle movements; little sign of an equivalent attention to other needs.

Pedestrians’ requirements
We should expect that pedestrian activity and demand will increase very substantially as the Northern Docks opens up: there will be a lot of new accommodations of all sectors while will in itself increase footfall, without considering specific developments such as BMD Stadium, the North Docks Cultural Venue, the Cruise terminal and , it is to be hoped, an increasing tourist penetration to this area.

Looking at the pedestrian routes provided, they seem to be taking a poor second (or worse) place. Despite the generous 3m pavements, there does not appear to be a coherent pedestrian route on the south side of the Link road to Princes Dock. The link from the north side of Leeds St to the north side of the Link is convoluted.

The thought might be that there is practically no pedestrian demand coming from Gibraltar Row, but in the longer term (well within the 2029 horizon I’d think ) that triangle between Bath St and King Edward St will be redeveloped with something more in fitting with this location (and bringing in more revenue to the city by the way). Very likely there will be a lot of staff or residents or visitors depending on what gets built.

It is not enough to conclude self-congratulatorily (TA para 4.3) that “the shared cycle/footways along the link road and the proposed signalised junction with controlled pedestrian/toucan crossing will improve connectivity and safety for pedestrians and cyclists.” It might be slightly better than the poor provision for today’s few pedestrians; that doesn’t mean it will be adequate for a greatly increased number in the city it is being designed for.

It is quite alarming that the designers seem content to consider cutting out 50% of the pedestrian phases to clear traffic from the Princes Way when needed. The lesson surely that they need to find ways to reduce the amount of vehicular traffic coming from Princes Dock developments. More cycle parking and less car parking perhaps. (Not within the scope the present scheme, but certainly within the scope of the planning department.)

I am a bit concerned at the use of granite setts as the default for pedestrian surfaces – how good is this to walk on? – or push a wheelchair / pram on? They say it matches the Connectivity Phase 1 works. Has that been OK’d?

Public transport
Several of the predicted traffic flows look to come alarmingly close to 100% Degree of Saturation, and it is more alarming still to realise that the assumptions about growth in traffic do not include the proposed Bramley Moore Dock stadium (TS para 4.4). I’d suggest that this really means that the junctions will not cope.
This is not to say that the link should not be made in some form, but rather that alternatives that reduce the need for vehicular traffic should be looked at a lot more seriously. What public transport options can be provided for?

Indeed, what public transport considerations have been made at all? In the initial paragraphs, and in Appendix D, there are references to the existing bus stops and services. But nowhere is there any indication of how those services will be catered for in the proposed design. There are bus stops on Paisley St (each way), but there doesn’t seem to be space to replicate them on the new Link Road. Nor is there any suggestion how public transport on the north-south axis might be improved (this might in itself be outside the scope of the design remit) or how the necessary extra bus services for the North Docks developments might affect traffic flows, or where bus stops would best be located (which surely is within the remit).

The cycle link from Bath St to Waterloo Rd is to be welcomed. If it becomes a major cycling route (and we would hope it would with the projected volume of development proposed in the North docks) it might prove inadequate as a two-way link shared with pedestrians. The configuration of the toucan across Princes Way looks convoluted. Thought should at least be given to providing an alternative more direct cycle phase at the lights for straight-through traffic.
There does not seem to be any link from Leeds St to Princes Way. As there is a quite well-appointed cycle route along the south side of Leeds St it seems pointless not to connect up to it.

How would we expect cyclists to travel from the Strand to, say Byrom St? (A common enough requirement you’d think.) Many would prefer the steady climb up King Edward St, and thane take pot luck in getting across to eh right hand turn lane to get onto Leeds St. But this means making that difficult jump across the lane where Bath St departs . In my experience traffic here can move quite fast and be quite heavy, so there will be many who find themselves needing to make the right turn onto the link Rd. an advance stop line would be helpful for this. A (better?) alternative would be some way of facilitating that jump from the New Quay-side cycle route over to King Edward St.

Street Character
The proposal does not, cannot, make development proposals for the land adjacent. I hope that the Gibraltar Way estate will soon be replaced by something suited to this part of the city, buy meanwhile it’s sensible to include a bit of car parking at the foot of the retaining wall. I hope likewise that the plot north of the Link Road will soon be snapped up, but meanwhile a grass verge is fair.
Some more design should however go into the places between the roads and the dock estate. The rigid 2m wide pavement is clearly nonsense here. Does the pavement extend to the estate boundary, or is the space to be filled with something else? Even if it only replacing the cotoneaster and agave planting, a decision needs to be made and it will have a big effect on how people approach a whole new quarter of the city Between the lower junction and the Princes Half Tide Dock there is enough space that something special could happen. I don’t don’t know what. Amey is probably not the team to take this on. Perhaps the team responsible for the Strand reconfiguration – or another commission. In any case a decent budget needs to be found for it.

I will probably redraft this a bit to go the planners. If anyone out there has any comments before I do so I ‘m all ears.


Dai Gwynne
( copied from MCC group)

One thought on “Planning application for road link between Leeds St and Princes Dock”

  1. Dai. I wonder whether we could have an extended meeting with a group from MCC & Peds Group and the planners to ‘walk’ the route to explore their rationale on the planning proposals?

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