Transport Technical Paper [EXAM 114]

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3. Appendix 1: Sustainable Transport in Central Bedfordshire

Policy, Track Record and Current Initiatives

3.1 Document Purpose

3.1.1 This Technical Note has been prepared to supplement the Statement of Common Ground agreed between Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) and Highways England (HE) (EXAM 7R) in respect of Central Bedfordshire's Local Plan.

3.1.2 Paragraph 5.8 states: "CBC commits to continue its investment in a range of sustainable travel initiatives designed to reduce the demand for car travel across its authority area and to utilise HEs 'Designated Funds' to develop schemes to mitigate the impact of the SRN on local communities. CBC will prepare a technical note on the Council's approach to sustainable travel in advance of the Examination, at the request of HE."

3.1.3 This technical note documents CBC's approach to enabling sustainable travel, particularly in response to the growth proposed in the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan and supplements the extensive traffic modelling submitted in support of the Plan, which has identified locations at which growth is expected to create issues on the highway network. This note also provides an overview of current and emerging CBC transport policy and its strong track record in planning, securing funding for and delivering sustainable travel interventions.

3.2 Policy

3.2.1 Current CBC policy including the Local Transport Plan 3, outlines the authority's strategic approach to developing sustainable travel options along with managing the highway network. The proposed transport policies in the submission plan align with the commitments in LTP3, and the aspirations of a refreshed plan (LTP4), the structure of which has been agreed by CBC Executive and has now commenced.

3.2.2 This 'refresh' is required to refocus the LTP, in light of the timescales of growth proposed in the Local Plan, the commitment to refresh the Plan and the timescales for other major schemes (such as East West Rail) which may influence future policy direction.

3.2.3 The policies proposed in the submission plan, namely Policy T1, align with the LTP, whereby provision of active and sustainable options is a first priority, followed by providing additional highway capacity. This hierarchical approach allows for measures to be introduced which can manage highway demand, such as improved walking and cycling infrastructure, and new and extended public transport routes.

Local Transport Plan

3.2.4 CBC's current approach to enabling sustainable travel is set out in its adopted Local Transport Plan 3i for the 2011 – 2026 period, and its supporting Walking Strategy, Cycling Strategy and Sustainable Modes of Travel to Schools and Colleges (SMOTS) Strategy. The Local Transport Plan adopted a strong journey purpose theme enabling the Council to tailor its objectives and to prioritise funding for effective, multi-modal solutions that reflect why people travel.

3.2.5 These documents demonstrate CBC's vision and headline objectives, namely:

3.2.6 "Globally connected, delivering sustainable growth to ensure a green, prosperous and ambitious place for the benefit of all by creating an integrated transport system that is safe, sustainable and accessible".

3.2.7 "Encourage people to walk, to walk safely, and to walk more often" "Encourage more people to cycle, to cycle safely, and to cycle more often"

3.2.8 "Increase the number of children travelling using sustainable modes of transport to schools and colleges".

Local Plan 2015-2035

3.2.9 The Local Plan, as submitted, sets out the six growth themes that were considered appropriate foundations to contribute to achieving the vision and priorities of both the Plan and the Council as a whole. Early consultation through community planning was structured around these themes, one of which was Transport. The transport theme focused on the need to plan good connections, not only to jobs and facilities, but also to recreation services and the countryside. It also included a need to look at improving existing transport networks and make the most of opportunities for new links.

3.2.10 Chapter four of the Local Plan sets out the vision and objectives. There are two transport related strategic objectives:

SO9: Reduce the reliance on the use of the car by improving facilities at bus and train stations, delivering transport interchanges and by promoting safe and sustainable forms of transport, such as improved walking and cycling routes.

SO10: Ensure a reliable network of east/west and north/south public transport routes to improve access to local services and facilities, especially for those without a car, through well planned routes and integrated public transport. Encouraging the shift from road to rail freight to reduce demands on the highway network.

3.2.11 In allocating strategic sites, the Local Plan proposes policies to ensure, amongst other things, that sustainable travel is appropriately considered. Policy SP3 sets out Generic Requirements for Strategic Sites, including:

  • 'Provision of a Sustainable Transport Strategy fully integrated into the overall masterplan and demonstrating improved linkages to existing transport nodes e.g. mainline rail stations by sustainable means and how the development will reduce the need to travel by car. Measures to mitigate the traffic impacts of the proposed development on the strategic and local road networks together with footpaths, cycleways, bridleways, and green corridors should be included'
  • 'Promoters should undertake a full Transport Assessment to ensure that the package of mitigation measures are incorporated into the scheme, including pedestrian and cycle links, a public transport strategy and any offsite contributions as deemed necessary'

3.2.12 In addition to this, individual policies for the strategic sites also include other site specific requirements.

3.2.13 There are few specific transport policy requirements for the small and medium sized sites allocated under policy HA1, instead it is intended that development of these sites would be guided by the other policies in the Plan.

3.2.14 A review of the other Local Plan policies is provided below. In addition to the site-specific requirements set out in the strategic policies discussed above, policy HQ9 requires all sites in excess of 300 dwellings to produce a Development Brief. This Development Brief stages enables discussion of issues, including sustainable transport, prior to the planning application stage.

3.2.15 Chapter 14 provides details of CBC's approach to sustainable travel, describing the expectations of new development and how this will be documented in the planning process. For example:

"14.4.1 New development needs to consider a range of measures, interventions and infrastructure improvements to demonstrate that the proposed development minimises the impact on the local transport network. Sustainable transport measures should be fully considered."

"14.4.2 The Council will seek to:

  • Reduce the need to travel by car.
  • Embed and promote sustainable transport within new developments.
  • Increase connectivity and accessibility particularly through sustainable travel. Make the best use of existing infrastructure and services.
  • Provide additional capacity where required.
  • 14.4.3 Developers will be expected to ensure that new schemes fully mitigate any adverse impact on the transport network."

"14.4.3 Developers will be expected to ensure that new schemes fully mitigate any adverse impact on the transport network."

3.2.16 Section 14.6 focuses on Sustainable Transport Provision. It states that:

"14.6.1 The sustainability of new development hinges upon the ability of sites to be accessible by a choice of means of transport to existing services such as: employment provision, education, retail, healthcare and leisure facilities."

"14.6.2 Accessibility issues are particularly important for those without access to a car. At a local level this should include encouraging walking trips for under two miles and increasing opportunity to cycle for services within a five-mile radius."

"14.6.3 To achieve this, dominance of the car should be reduced, as supported by both the Manual for Streets and the Central Bedfordshire Design Guide while not impeding access for emergency vehicles and public transport. Opportunities to reduce traffic speeds and introduce level surface street designs for example may help to encourage more walking and cycling and create safer streets."

The rural nature of Central Bedfordshire is also recognised, with 14.6.5 stating that 'At a more strategic level, due to the lack of self-containment of many settlements in Central Bedfordshire, developments will be required to facilitate links to public transport provision, so that residents can access facilities further afield by means other than a car.'

3.2.17 Section 14.7.1 notes that: "where a new development is likely to have significant transport implications (see relevant Department of Transport guidance and the Local Transport Plan for thresholds), a Transport Assessment and Travel Plan should be prepared and submitted with a planning application for the development."

3.2.18 Amongst other things Section 14.7.2 notes that a Transport Assessment should include "measures to promote sustainable travel using in the form of an accompanying Travel Plan", with guidance on the material for inclusion in a Travel Plan provided in Section 14.7.3.

3.2.19 It is expected that strategic sites may deliver between 10% and 20% modal shift towards sustainable modes with the appropriate level of intervention and monitoring, via the Travel Planning and monitoring process outlined in policy T1.

3.2.1 Policy T1: Mitigation of Transport Impacts on the Network, summarises the Council's position on this topic. The policy states that 'It should be demonstrated how the proposal will seek to reduce the need to travel and secure a modal shift towards sustainable forms of transport. This should be through an approach which first considers the ability to cater for walking and cycling, provide suitable public transport services, and make better use of existing highway capacity before considering the provision of additional roads'

3.2.2 In addition to Policy T1, sustainable travel initiatives are also supported by Policy T4: Public Transport Interchanges. This modified policy states that 'Developments that create a demand for public transport services should provide enhanced access to, and/or facilities at, an appropriate transport interchange'

3.2.3 In conclusion, the Local Plan recognises the constraints presented by a rural district such as Central Bedfordshire. However, it does still propose both site-specific and generic policies to respond to opportunities from both planned and windfall development. These policies will be used to inform planning conditions and to secure developer funding for schemes which will proactively reduce demand for the highway network.

Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP)

3.2.4 The IDP supports the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan, however it is a document which is intended to be regularly updated. Its purpose is to set out the infrastructure that will be required to support the delivery of the housing and employment growth proposed in the Plan. It includes cost estimates and responsibilities for delivery of this infrastructure. The schedules in the IDP include several transport categories, those of relevance to this note are:

  • Strategic infrastructure
  • Interchanges including train station infrastructure
  • Walking and Cycling routes
  • Bus Service Provision
  • Smarter Choices Promotions

Central Bedfordshire Design Guide (2014)

3.2.5 The Central Bedfordshire Design Guide was adopted by the Council as technical guidance for Development Management purposes in 2014. It provides comprehensive guidance to shape all new development in Central Bedfordshire and includes the following sections relating to sustainable transport:

  • Designing for Movement (Placemaking Principles Supplement) – defines the street user hierarchy that prioritises pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.
  • Making Provision for Walking and Cycling (Placemaking Principles Supplement) – specific guidance on designing new developments to facilitate walking and cycling.
  • Rights of Way (Green Infrastructure, Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Buildings Supplement) - emphasises the need to consider the Rights of Way network from the outset and sets out the requirements for existing and new Rights of Way, including routes and surfacing.
  • Larger Footprints Buildings – requires schemes to address opportunities for access by walking, cycling and public transport.

3.2.6 CBC is currently reviewing the Design Guide to reflect the new Local Plan policy requirements, new local and national guidance, and best practice. This document will continue to set out the Council's expectations for prioritising walking, cycling and public transport for all new developments in Central Bedfordshire.

Highways Construction Standards and Specification Guidance (2019)

3.2.7 The Council's Highways Construction Standards and Specifications Guidance was adopted in August 2019. It contains detailed technical guidance, standards and processes for proposed works by developers on existing roads or new highways. The guidance provides the detailed design requirements for streets such as footway and cycleway dimensions and surfacing, cycle parking and bus stop specifications. It assists in delivering the Council's expectations for prioritising walking, cycling and public transport in Central Bedfordshire.

3.3 Track Record and Existing Initiatives

3.3.1 A summary of CBC's track record and existing initiatives in respect of sustainable travel is presented in Table 1 below. This details funding sources and approximate values where these are available.

3.3.2 In addition to this, a commitment was recently made at Full Council to endorse the recent LGA motion on Climate Change passed at the 2019 conference, and to produce a deliverable Sustainability Plan, which would be ready for roll out during 2020. It was proposed that this plan would start with CBC leading by example in its everyday practices, encouraging residents and businesses to do likewise and looking to invest in programmes that support a carbon-free Central Beds for 2030 and beyond. See table below.

Ref.

Initiative

Description

Funding and source

1a

Dunstable High Street Phase 1

Walking and cycling improvements funded through Highways England's Designated Funds.

£1.5M capital (Highways England)

1b

Dunstable High Street Phase 2

Further improvements will be funded from a variety of public sector sources. CBC is in active discussion with Highways England regarding further funding from Highways England's Designated Funds and will seek to apply to future funding rounds.

EA, LGF, HIF Marginal Viability Fund, Highways England

2

Sustainable Transport Access to Rail Stations (STARS)

Successful joint bid with Bedford Borough Council and Luton Borough Council for £2.13M from DfT through DfT's Sustainable Travel Access Fund for 2017 to 2020, with the authorities working in partnership with Sustrans, the rail industry, major employers and other stakeholders.The programme includes a range of travel planning, training, cycling and wayfinding initiatives focusing on education, business and commuting journeys.

£700K revenue funding spent in Central Bedfordshire in 2019/20

3

Flitwick and Biggleswade Interchange and Access for All

Upgrade of public transport interchange facilities at both stations to encourage greater bus use to/from the stations.

Biggleswade station was successful in receiving additional "Access for All" funding to provide step free access from platform to street.

CBC will submit a further application for Flitwick Access for All funding for the next funding round.

Flitwick £1.5M capital funding with additional Section 106 monies

Biggleswade interchange improvements included in CBC's successful Housing Infrastructure Fund bid with £1.5M bid supplemented by £250K CBC funding

Access for All – DfT

4

Green Wheel Projects

CBC is working in partnership with the Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity to provide a series of market towns with high quality walking and cycling routes to areas of green spaces within and external to them, while also providing links to the wider bridleway network for horse riders. These paths create a 'rim' which is supported by 'spokes' of paths leading from the towns and villages out to the circular 'rim' and beyond. The current status of the rolling programme is as follows:

Completed consultation and launched upgrades: Sandy, Biggleswade and Etonbury (Stotfold, Arlesey and Fairfield).

At consultation stage: Leighton Buzzard, Potton and Flitwick.

Various sources including Section 106, CBC, and future funding competitions (TBC)

5

Luton Dunstable Busway

A fast, frequent and reliable high-quality set of bus services between Houghton Regis, Dunstable and Luton connecting residential areas, industrial areas, town centres, rail stations and Luton airport. Final Business Case submitted in 2009 with services commencing on the 8-mile-long route in September 2013. The Busway has been successful in halving cross-conurbation journey times, improving public perception of bus travel and delivering modal shift in Dunstable.

DfT, CBC and Luton Borough Council

6

Smarter Routes to Employment

Funding designed to improve access on to the Luton-Dunstable Busway with additional bus stops and upgraded walking / cycling facilities to improve safety and usage. This included the upgrade of the emergency track alongside the Busway for commuter cycling and the formalisation of specific access points and two new bus stops. Scheme completed in 2016.

Local Growth Fund 2 £800K

7

Local Sustainable Transport Fund Round 2 & Transition Funding

CBC was awarded a grant of £5M through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) up to March 2015. This also covered its Smarter Routes to Employment Initiative. The project featured a targeted package of sustainable transport measures to facilitate the delivery of new jobs and homes in the south of Central Bedfordshire.

Subsequently CBC was awarded funding for the transition year (2016/17) between LSTF and the Access Fund to promote the access improvements for the Luton-Dunstable Busway scheme implemented in 2016 via the LGF2. This involved increasing public awareness; breaking down barriers to skills, training and quality employment; and building confidence in the local community.

LSTF Round 2 £5M (DfT)

Transition funding £500k revenue (DfT)

8

Southern Leighton Buzzard Sustainable Travel Exemplar Project

The LSTF described above built on the success achieved in Leighton Buzzard. CBC worked in partnership with the developer of the Southern Leighton Buzzard Urban Extension and Arriva to deliver the D1 Dash Direct bus service, providing an exemplar sustainable transport link to the station and town centre. The project was highly commended in the 2011 UK Awards and the 2012 CIHT Annual Awards.

Section 106

9

Safer Routes to School and Mode Shift STARS programme

CBC through revenue funding offer support for schools want to get accreditation through these initiatives. A ringfenced capital programme is also available to fund improvements. The Safer Route programme is for major school clusters, with improvements primarily linked to school expansion. Updated travel plans are produced at the point of expansion which identify measures to mitigate the impact of the development.

CBC Revenue and Capital funding

10

Local Cycling and Walking Implementation Plan (LCWIP)

This is an emerging Plan being developed in collaboration with potential cross boundary assessment with Luton Borough Council and Bedford Borough Council. Previous work in 2006/07 set out a blueprint for cycle investment and since that time CBC has been building this out through its Integrated Funds. The LCWIP is under development and will prioritise schemes to complete gaps in the network. The LCWIP is both separate and complementary to the Green Wheel programme previously discussed (scheme 4).

Annual budget of £200K topped up with an additional £1M by the Leader of CBC in 2019/20

11

Section 106 Walking and Cycling Programme

Ongoing investment in facilities to mitigate the impacts of new developments. Examples include a link between Flitwick and Center Parcs Woburn Forest.

Section 106 (capital)

£4M of funding has been secured over the last 15 years

12

Bikeability Programme

Grant funding from DfT to support the deliverability of the Bikeability training initiative. Middle Schools (Age 9-13) receive level 2 training and Lower Schools (Age 4-9) receive level 1 training.

DfT (revenue) circa £26k per year

13

Section 106 Sustainable Travel Measures

Travel plans are in place for major sites, with £2M either banked or due to be handed over from sites such as Houghton Regis Phases 1 and 2 and East Leighton Linslade. This will be supplemented by other sites associated with the Central Bedfordshire Local Plan as they come forward. This will help to fund officer resource primarily working with businesses as well as specific site based and area wide initiatives.

Section 106 (revenue)

14

Cycling and Walking

Innovation Fund

CBC were successful in receiving £100K of funding in 2018 to undertake a pilot study to improve the safety of cyclists on rural roads by using a combination of technologies to influence driver behaviour and dynamically alert vehicles to their presence. This involves a review of existing interventions and the development of a prototype cyclist activated warning sign for evaluation.

DfT & Innovate UK (£100K)

15

Major Public Transport Infrastructure Schemes

CBC is working with partners at various stages of project development on the following potential schemes:

  • Interchange facilities at Leighton Buzzard station
  • Interchange facilities at Ridgmont station (East-West Rail related)
  • Extension of Luton-Dunstable Busway to Leighton Buzzard and potentially Stevenage
  • Sustainable Travel Corridor to connect the East of Biggleswade with Biggleswade station

CBC has allocated capital funding for design at Leighton Buzzard station

Others to be determined, including some Section 106 monies

16

National Cycle Network (NCN) Review

Creation of a new quiet-way route to replace a busy on-road section between Luton and Dunstable. This has included the provision of a Cycle Zebra Crossing to enable the connection of off-road sections.

£50K of funding from DfT through the Sustrans NCN Review

3.3.3 In addition to these existing and previous initiatives, CBC is continually looking for opportunities to access funding through regular Government funding competitions. CBC partnered with Luton Borough Council and Bedford Borough Council on an ultimately unsuccessful Transforming Cities Bid for Public Transport (although similar opportunities will continue to be investigated); is evaluating opportunities associated with the recently announced Challenge Fund and Pinch Point Funds for 2019/20 submission; and is working in collaboration with Highways England to explore potential Designated Fund opportunities associated with the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway (west of the M1) and the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet schemes.

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