In upholding an enforcement notice directed at the storage and sale of building materials at a farm in a Shropshire village (DCS Number 200-006-637) an inspector has given a ruling on the interpretation of NPPF guidance on highway safety.
Local residents and the council were concerned about the effect of the development on highway safety and the free flow of traffic on the highway network, in particular with regard to HGVs. The inspector agreed that the local road network was wholly unsuitable to accommodate the level and nature of traffic associated with the use of the site.
The inspector noted that the third bullet point at paragraph 32 of the NPPF states that development should only be refused on highway grounds where the cumulative residual impact would be severe. He acknowledged that there is no definition of the word severe in the NPPF but remarked that it is clearly an extremely high bar. It appeared to him, however, that paragraph 32 is referring to matters of highway capacity and congestion, as opposed to matters of highway safety. In this regard he noted that the courts have held that paragraph 32 should not be interpreted to mean that anything other than a severe impact on highway safety would be acceptable [Mayowa-Emmanual v Royal Borough of Greenwich 2015].
The inspector decided that the increase in the use of the road network had been detrimental to highway safety and to the way in which the road network was used by all forms of traffic. He took the view that the risk of accidents, damage to the highway network, and the overall change in the character of the preferred route were factors that, in combination, had had an extremely significant, and one could say severe, impact on local road users.
The following DCP section is relevant: 21.1