Statement from the Parish Council regarding Parking on York Way, Harlestone Manor

Statement from the Parish Council

In response to concerns raised by residents regarding the parking situation on York Way at the entrance to Harlestone Manor estate, the Parish Council would like to provide the following update.

For clarity, the issue that has been raised with us is the increasing number of people parking their cars along York Way on the entrance to the Harlestone Manor estate. Some of the visitors have been seen accessing Harlestone Firs via an unofficial ‘cut-through’ at the top of York way near the roundabout. Many of these cars appear to be driving to the area to park.  This situation has been more noticeable during lockdown and when other parking options are unavailable. Residents are concerned by the number of cars that park on York Way, particularly at the weekends, some of which are parked too close to the junction, restricting access and creating difficulties for cars trying to pass.  Pedestrians have also reported ‘near misses’ on that stretch of road.

Firstly, the Parish Council would like to assure residents that it is taking this matter very seriously. Since the matter was first brought to our attention in August 2020, we have considered a number of options to address the situation. We are a new parish council  working as hard as we can to move these actions forward as quickly as possible in the challenging circumstances presented by the pandemic. It is important to stress that the Parish Council does not have jurisdiction to carry out most of the actions that it might wish to, including specific actions that might bring immediate resolution to the problem.  Our powers are mainly limited to convincing other organisations of their responsibilities to work with us to prevent problem parking and notifying them of the difficulties that Harlestone Manor residents are experiencing. Nonetheless, the Parish Council are continuing to actively pursue a number of lines of enquiry, which for transparency, we have set out below.  We have also obtained advice from Northampton County Council Highways department, to determine how they could support us to maintain a safer environment for our residents.

We hope that this information explains the steps we are taking on your behalf. We will provide further updates via our main communication channels as soon as we know more. In the meantime, we would encourage anyone who wishes to bring further information to our attention to share this via our public meetings or alternatively, using the details on our contact pages.

Actions in Progress

  1. Working with Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) Highways Department to introduce parking restrictions e.g. double yellow lines

Update received from NCC on 26 November 2020:

“The section of road into the Harlestone Manor development and all roads on the development are part of a Section 38 agreement for forthcoming adoption by the County Council.  This however still currently remains under the control and ownership of the Developer until all the criteria of the adoption process has been completed and so is still essentially a private road that the County Council currently has no control over to introduce parking restrictions (i.e. double yellow lines). “

The Council have indicated that in due course, the nature of York Way will change to a through route, as part of the plans for the Northampton North-West Relief Road (NWRR) development. At that point, parking could be restricted by the introduction of a ‘clearway’ order although it is likely then that the increased traffic flows and change in nature of the road would likely be a natural deterrent to parking.

The Parish Council are maintaining links with the Highways Department to keep this situation under review.

  1. Contact the current owners of the land adjacent to York Way (Persimmon and Althorp Estate) to consider options to deter parking and encourage people to use other entrances to Harlestone Firs

York Road itself, together with the unofficial ‘cut-through’ being used to access Harlestone Firs, do not fall within the Harlestone Manor Parish boundary. Persimmon have erected a fence adjacent to York Road along the boundary of the development which currently is broken in places, allowing members of the public to freely access the Firs via the ‘cut-through’. It has been suggested by residents that the fence be mended and the access way blocked.

The parish council do not feel this is a long-term solution to the parking issue. The ‘cut-through’ has existed for many years and been used by local people, so to remove this access feels punitive for those who are using the area responsibly. Moreover, mending the fence may move the problem elsewhere, causing people to access the Firs at the lower end of the estate and encouraging cars onto the estate itself. Currently, the ‘cut-through’ is important to enable people to comply with the COVID 19 regulations, both to prevent large numbers of people accessing the Firs via a single entrance, and also because of the dangers presented by the pavement along the edge of the A428, which is narrow and sometimes causes people to have to walk in the road to maintain social distance. We have written to Persimmon to engage in discussions around what, if any, actions can be taken to make the area safer.

  1. Escalate problem parking to the Police Community Support Officer

The Parish Council’s Single Point of Contact (SPOC) with Northamptonshire Police has spoken to the PCSO to seek his assistance in deterring problem parking. So long as vehicles can still pass along this section (even if they have to give way to oncoming vehicles due to parked cars) the Police are unable to take action for obstruction. The police will only get involved if a larger vehicle such as a fire engine or refuse vehicle was physically unable to get through due to parking. The PCSO has advised he has no jurisdiction to enforce ‘no parking’ and the HMPC have no powers to enforce. The Parish Council has formally written to Northamptonshire Police via the Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) to advise them of the current issues being experienced and to seek assistance with enforcing no parking on the junction and associated inappropriate parking on the estate.

  1. Working with Harlestone Manor Council to pursue a joint Road Safety Strategy

In October 2020, the Parish Council established a working party with Harlestone Parish Council to consider options to tackle road safety in the two parishes, particularly on the A428. The Working Party is progressing a number of actions including:

  1. Actions to support an application to reduce the speed limit from 40mph to 30mph along the stretch of the A428 that passes through our parishes. A Tracsis survey has been commissioned by HMPC to record speed, traffic and peak vehicle activity in two designated areas along the A428 in December, to provide evidence for the speed reduction.
  2. We are pursuing with NCC Highways team the potential for road crossings to be installed between Harlestone Manor and Loxton Fields, and between the Firs and Dobbies Garden Centre. Evidence must first be gathered to support the applications, and this is in progress. Plans for a parking area on the Dallington side of the Firs are being considered by planners to alleviate the amount of cars parking at the front of the Firs and along York Road, which is officially a lorry tacho-break parking area and not a car park.
  3. Removing overgrown vegetation on the pavement along the boundary of the A428 and Harlestone Firs, to make the passageway safer for everyone using it. The pathways will be cut back to a minimum of 1.2M which supports the Highways regulations. The current pandemic has delayed the contractor from undertaking the work, but the programme of works has now been scheduled to take place in January / February 2021.

These measures will help to address some of the wider concerns regarding the increased footfall within the parishes and contribute to making the area safer for both pedestrians and drivers.