Agenda item

North Tyneside Vehicle Access Crossing Policy

To seek approval for the Authority’s new Vehicle Access Crossing Policy.

 

Minutes:

Cabinet considered a report seeking approval for a new North Tyneside Vehicle Access Crossing Policy.

 

North Tyneside Council was responsible for an extensive highway network and maintaining its roads and pavements was a key priority.  This was underpinned by the Highways Asset Management Plan 2017 – 2032 (the ‘HAMP’), previously approved by Cabinet.

 

The HAMP set out the Authority’s commitment to good asset management practices in the way it managed the highway.  One of the key objectives of the HAMP was to deliver the clear policy direction from the Elected Mayor and Cabinet to increase the commitment to seek the sustained improvement of footways across the borough. An important aspect of this was the effective management of vehicles crossing the footpath.

 

Throughout the year the Authority received requests from residents seeking access to their property for their vehicles by ‘dropping the kerb’ to enable access to their property from the highway.  The Highways Act 1980 made provision for residents and property owners to do this by making a request to the Authority in its role of local Highway Authority.  Decisions therefore needed to be made by the Authority on whether to permit the construction of a vehicle access over a footway or verge.  The decisions were made by assessing the applications against set highways criteria.

 

For a number of years, local highway authorities had managed applications for vehicle access crossings as part of daily business without recourse to a formalised policy.  In North Tyneside, the Head of Environment, Housing and Leisure had delegated authority to make decisions on whether to permit a request for construction of a vehicle access crossing.  However, local highway authorities were moving towards creating formal policies for the management of vehicle access crossing applications.  This was considered best practice as it provided greater clarity for the customer, provided transparency over the criteria applied, ensured a consistent management approach, and promoted consistent decision making.  As such, and in line with the aims and objectives of the HAMP, a vehicle access crossing policy had been developed which was attached to the report as Appendix 1.

 

The purpose of the new vehicle access crossing policy was to formalise the existing vehicle access crossing process and criteria for assessing applications in a policy document; ensure the right balance between on-road and off-road parking, and to preserve the character of the streetscape; andto improve the customer experience by providing clearer information on the application process and the assessment criteria.

 

The policy set out the legislative background, processes, assessment criteria and all other information key to the management of vehicle access crossings including:

 

·         Legislative background in relation to vehicle access crossings

·         Approvals required for a vehicle access crossing request

·         Criteria used to assess vehicle access crossing applications

·         Details of the application process

·         Details setting out construction options, fees and payment process.

 

The intention was to publish the policy on the Authority’s website and make it available in other formats.  In addition, to simplify the application process and to improve the customer experience, the new vehicle access crossing policy would be supported by a new customer guide.  This would include plain language guidance on the application process, useful contacts, frequently asked questions and visual illustrations to help explain the acceptable criteria.  The customer guide was currently in development and was expected to be made available on the Authority’s website during summer 2021.

 

Cabinet considered the following decision options: to accept the recommendations set out in paragraph 1.2 of the report; or alternatively, to not accept the recommendations and provide an alternative response to the report at the meeting.

 

Resolved that (1) the information presented in the report, be noted;

(2)  the North Tyneside Vehicle Access Crossing Policy, attached at Appendix 1 to

the report, be approved: and

(3)  the Cabinet Member for Environment consider any referral made to her regarding

the review of a decision taken in relation to a vehicle access crossing application, and to determine the application following such a review.

 

(Reason for decision: in order to have a formal vehicle access crossing policy in place to ensure a consistent approach to managing applications and to assist customers through the application process.)

 

 

Supporting documents: