Central Bedfordshire Pre-submission Local Plan (January 2018)
14.1.1 Central Bedfordshire is well served by strategic north-south road links, notably the M1, A1, A6 and A5, and east-west links in the form of the A421, A505 and A507, which provide connections between the A1 in the east and the M1 in the west.
14.1.2 There have been significant improvements to east-west highway connectivity in Central Bedfordshire with the opening of the A5-M1 link road and the Woodside Link road (A5505).
14.1.3 The major rail links are north-south orientated with the Midland Mainline, East Coast Mainline and West Coast Mainlines all running through Central Bedfordshire. There are 11 rail stations with 6 providing key connections to London. All mainline stations are seeing steady growth in passenger numbers and this growth is projected to continue during the plan period.
14.1.4 The only east-west route in place is the Marston Vale branch line, which connects Bedford to Bletchley, and provides a link through to Milton Keynes. There are plans to upgrade this as part of the western branch of East-West Rail, with a stopping service at Ridgmont which will have direct services to Oxford.
14.1.5 Bus services operate between the main urban areas within Central Bedfordshire and to key service centres in neighbouring areas such as Bedford, Luton, Milton Keynes and the Hertfordshire towns of Hitchin and Stevenage.
14.1.6 The Luton-Dunstable Busway is a bus priority corridor between Luton and Dunstable town centres which also provides access to London Luton Airport and Houghton Regis town centre via a high frequency, high quality 6 mile link .
14.1.7 In terms of cycling, Central Bedfordshire is connected to the National Cycle Network (NCN) via Routes 6, 12 and 51 which provide strategic cycle friendly links to the surrounding region and rest of the country .
14.1.8 All of the authority's main towns have cycle networks in place. Route coverage is generally good albeit further investment is required at a local level to ensure that cycling becomes a more attractive choice for local journeys.
14.2.1 The Local Transport Plan, or LTP as it is often known, is the formal policy document for transport which also sets out the Council's long term framework for investment in transport across Central Bedfordshire.
14.2.2 The LTP currently covers the period up to 2026 and there is a statutory requirement on the authority to produce and maintain the Plan. It considers the needs of all forms of transport particularly walking, cycling, buses, rail and car use.
14.2.3 The LTP establishes a strategic approach through which to deal with key transport issues, a series of objectives, and broad areas of intervention through which schemes will be identified and improvements made to the transport network.
14.2.4 The Council's Cycle Strategy forms part of the LTP, which addresses issues relevant to cyclists, detailing a hierarchy of routes, drawing out the wider linkages with other policy areas to demonstrate the imp`ortance of encouraging more cycling and details the framework of interventions throughwhich efforts to increase the number of people cycling will be focused
14.3.1 A number of the issues associated with transport provision and travel choice are often long standing and complex, with many inter-related factors, often controlled by the transport operators and agencies such as Highways England. There have been improvements to transport in Central Bedfordshire particularly on the delivery of new road schemes and work on rail interchanges.
14.3.2 The main transport concerns affecting Central Bedfordshire however, can be categorised into three broad areas relating to:
- Increasing demand to travel associated with a growing population, new development and an up turn in the economy,
- Localised congestion, especially in the larger towns such as Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard,
- Junction capacity issues on the local and strategic road network, and
- Parking pressures in town centres, around schools / rail stations and at other key trip generators
- The lack of self containment of many Central Bedfordshire communities resulting in residents travelling long distances to meet their needs,
- The limited access to sustainable transport provision particularly in rural areas, which results in reliance on the car for many journeys
- Social exclusion and isolation for those without their own private transport or ability to fund more costly options, and
- Poor connectivity in terms of both services and infrastructure, and the ability to interchange between different modes of travel
- Inappropriate routing of traffic, including HGVs, through some urban areas and villages which cause severance, poor air quality and safety concerns,
- Road safety, both in terms of actual accidents and perceived safety of vulnerable road users, and
- Dominance of the car in residential areas as a consequence of the poor provision and management of parking,
- A natural discouragement of cycling and walking due to lack of appropriate routes
More general issues are also apparent associated with:
- Public perceptions and overcoming ingrained transport behaviour, and
- High proportion of cross boundary movements (partly due to high commuting levels) including within the Luton-Dunstable conurbation over which the authority only has partial influence
14.3.3 These issues all impact upon the ability of the transport network and services across Central Bedfordshire to contribute towards the wider aims and objectives of the authority and facilitate the growth envisaged within this Plan.
14.3.4 In view of this, all development sites will need to be designed to reduce the need for travel and to secure modal shifts towards more sustainable forms of transport while ensuring a well functioning and efficient network in terms such as connectivity and the provision and management of parking.
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..
14.5.1 The Central Bedfordshire and Luton Strategic Transport Model 2017 (CBLTM) is a key transport planning tool to inform current and future transport patterns and demand across Central Bedfordshire. It can test the impact of development on the transport network and determine what, if any, mitigation would be required to accommodate that level of development. It will also be used in the validation and bidding process for funding future transport schemes.
14.5.2 Development will be required to evidence whether there is sufficient capacity in the transport network to accommodate the increase in demand to travel. The CBLTM will form the basis to any assessment of transport capacity requirements. Further bespoke capacity assessments may also be required to test specific local impacts of development.
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 for trips 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.
14.6.4 Compled developments should be within a 400 metre threshold of a bus stop or 800 metres of a railway station with at least a half-hourly peak hour service provision in order to ensure public transport use is a realistic alternative to the car. This is supported by the Local Transport Plan which seeks to encourage development along public transport corridors
14.6.5 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.
14.7.1 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.
14.7.2 Transport Assessments should include (with additional information as required):
- the planning context of the development proposal;
- appropriate study parameters (i.e. area, scope and duration of study);
- assessment of public transport capacity, walking/ cycling capacity and road network capacity;
- road trip generation and trip distribution methodologies and/ or assumptions about the development proposal;
- measures to promote sustainable travel using in the form of an accompanying Travel Plan;
- safety implications of development; and
- mitigation measures (where applicable) – including scope and implementation strategy
14.7.3 Travel Plans should include (with additional information as required):
- accurate benchmark travel data including trip generation databases such as TRICS and/ or the Central Bedfordshire and Luton Transport Model where appropriate;
- Information concerning the nature of the proposed development and the forecast level of trips by all modes of transport likely to be associated with the development;
- relevant information about existing travel habits in the surrounding area based on Census and other relevant evidence;
- an action plan detailing how sustainable travel will be promoted to residents and/or employees;
- information on the connectivity to the nearest transport interchange;
- information on the provision of infrastructure to support low emissions vehicles;
- a robust monitoring regime;
- targets to reduce travel to and from the site by single occupancy car; and
- promotion of public transport services such as mapping, cycle training, incentives and journey planning
14.7.4 Further guidance on Travel Plan requirements is set out in the Guidance on Travel Plans and Transport Assessment available on the Council's website.
Policy T1: Mitigation of Transport Impacts on the Network
Travel Plans, Travel Plan Statements and Transport Assessments will be required for any development which meets or exceeds the Gross Floor Area thresholds set out in the Council's Guidance on Travel Plans and Transport Assessment.
It should be demonstrated how the proposal will seek to reduse 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.
Evidence must be provided in Transport Assessments to demonstrate:
- The principles established to give priority to pedestrians and other vulnerable road users in new developments, together with links to local service provision
- Comprehensive and convenient pedestrian and cycle links to schools, local employment and service provision
- Connectivity with existing walking and cycling networks
Suitable bus or rail service provision within 400 metres (bus) or 800 metres (rail) safe walking distance offering at least a half-hourly peak hour service to a variety of service centres and interchanges.
Where a Travel Plan is in place, the developer and/or user will provide an annual update on their action plan, reporting progress against agreed aims and targets for a minimum of 5 years post occupation.
The Council will also require, as appropriate, financial contributions towards sustainable travel infrastructure and/ or promotional activity where connectivity to existing infrastructure is not suitable.
14.8.1 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires planning decisions to take account of whether safe and suitable access to a development site can be achieved for all people.
14.8.2 Developments should be located and designed, to create safe and secure layouts which minimise conflict between general traffic and; emergency service vehicles, public transport, cyclists and pedestrians. Suitable and safe highway measures must be provided to mitigate the impact of development and enhance the use of the local road network for all users.
Policy T2: Highway Safety & Design
Proposals for new development must not have a detrimental effect on highway safety and patterns of movement and must provide appropriate access in accordance with Council standards.
Development will be permitted where:
- The proposal is or will be well integrated with the existing transport network within and beyond the development itself; avoiding severance of communities as a result of measures to accommodate increased levels of traffic on the network;
- The proposal does not impede the free flow of traffic on the existing network or create hazards to that traffic and other road users;
- The proposal retains or enhances existing footpaths and cycleway links;
- The proposal promotes walking and cycling permeability and ensure that linkages and publicly-accessible through routes are created to successfully integrate the development into wider networks;
- The development provides safe and convenient access in accordance with appropriate standards, that promote accessibility for all users and all modes of transport and includes designs, where appropriate, that incorporate low speeds;
- The proposal must avoid locations where the cumulative impacts of congestion is likely to remain severe following mitigation;
- The proposal must make adequate provision for loading and unloading, circulation, servicing and vehicle turning; and
- The proposal fully funds where appropriate, or contributes towards the costs of any measures required to cost effectively mitigate the impacts arising from the development.
14.9.1 The provision of car parking associated with new developments for housing and all commercial uses should adhere to the guidelines established by the Central Bedfordshire Design Guide and the Parking Strategy which forms part of the Local Transport Plan.
14.9.2 The location, availability, cost and enforcement of parking provision can have a significant impact on the travel choices people make, the safety of the network, and even the look and feel of the urban environment.
14.9.3 Innovative approaches to parking such as the provision of electric charging points, dedicated priority spaces for car sharers and secure, covered cycle shelters all help imbed sustainable transport options within new development.
14.9.4 With respect to freight, the provision of rest and parking facilities is important to maximise highway safety, preserve local amenity, reduce opportunities for crime and address the general needs of HGV driver working conditions. Such facilities should provide adequate rest areas for drivers and allow for the safe parking of large vehicles whilst minimising impacts on other road users.
Developers of new residential developments must have regard to the car parking standards set out inthe Central Bedfordshire Council's Design Guide and Parking Strategy.
Parking for commercial and other trip generating developments must be provided with regard to with the standards set out in the Central Bedfordshire Council's Car Parking Strategy.
Provision for cycle parking must have regard to the standards in the Central Bedfordshire's guidance for cycle parking in new developments,
Provision of lorry parking facilities for all new industrial and commercial units, including quarries and waste management facilities must be made on site.
Suitable proposals for lorry rest facilities will be supported where they meet the identified commercial demand.
14.10.1 The importance of public transport connectivity in forming an essential element to new development will help further support the viability of public transport services in Central Bedfordshire, together with the vitality of our market towns.
Developments within close proximity to bus and rail interchanges should provide enhanced access in order to encourage more public transport use, cycling and walking, support the viability of services and enhance the vitality of the town centres in which they are located.
All major developments should promote connectivity to the transport interchange through Transport Assessments and Travel Plans. Typical measures may include current timetables, maps, equipment providing real time passenger information
Contributions to improve interchange infrastructure and to promote links to the end user will be sought.
Development will not be permitted should it compromise the ability of the authority to fully utilise and expand interchanges as required.
14.11.1 The use of electric vehicles is an important measure in reducing CO2 emissions and improving local air quality and therefore the provision of necessary infrastructure which promotes the use of such vehicles is essential. Reducing CO2 emissions and our impact on climate change is a priority for Central Bedfordshire particularly in the urban areas of Ampthill, Sandy and Dunstable which are identified as Air Quality Monitoring Areas (AQMAs).
14.11.2 Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEV) and associated charging infrastructure is an area where technology, standards and best practice are rapidly evolving therefore it is important that new development seeks to encourage continued growth and respond to such change.
14.11.3 The increased uptake of ULEV will entail the provision of one or a combination of the following in new development:
- On-site charging points for residential dwellings with dedicated off street parking (an external charging point on a driveway or a wall mounted internal charging point in a garage). On site charging points in allocated EV parking spaces;
- On site passive provision of suitable electrical cabling for home owners to provide their own charging points more easily at later date;
- a financial contribution towards developing wider local ULEV infrastructure (for example, nearby but off-site in a more suitable/strategic location)
14.11.4 In the absence of prescribed standards, requirements will be based on case by case negotiation between planning authority and the developer. For commercial, retail and industrial developments the requirements for points may be set as a proportion of total parking spaces provided, ensuring adequate charging infrastructure and cabling for each marked bay.
The following new developments will be required to provide charging points to support the provision of Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles:
- Residential developments
- Supermarkets or retail areas
- Employment sites
- University sites
- Other large scale trip generating uses
The provision of charging points will be negotiated on a case by case basis until standards are set out in the Local Transport Plan which will then be applied to all qualifying developments
14.12.1 The routing of traffic and particularly the movement of freight is a key issue in the creation of safe and attractive communities. The volume of freight transported through an area is often a useful measure of prosperity of a local economy and it is vital that local authorities cater for this demand. However such movements can have considerable impacts, especially where vehicles move from the strategic network onto local roads.
14.12.2 There are a number of freight generators in Central Bedfordshire. These include:
- Large industrial parks located close to M1 Junctions 9 through to 13 and along the A421 linking Bedford to the M1
- Industrial parks and warehousing facilities in Ampthill, Flitwick, Sandy, Biggleswade, Houghton Regis, Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard
- The transportation of aggregates and waste by road from local quarries and waste management facilities throughout Central Bedfordshire
- The Local Transport Plan seeks to enable the efficient and reliable transportation of freight, and encourage the movement of freight by sustainable modes whilst minimising the negative impact of freight trips on local communities
14.12.3 A Central Bedfordshire Designated Road Freight Network (DRFN), has been identified to provide links between key freight generators and attractors within the area whilst minimising impacts on local communities. It is comprised of primary routes which run through the authority providing access to major destinations of regional and national significance; and secondary routes which link identified freight generators and destinations to the primary route network and restrict lorries to roads where a minimum of environmental and infrastructure damage will occur.
14.12.4 It is intended that freight vehicles travel only on these roads, avoiding town centres as feasible, unless servicing local communities or destinations not on the designated network. The DRFN is supported by a series of signed weight, height and width restrictions zones across Central Bedfordshire that limit freight movements. The Council's LTP includes more information on this.
Where a development will result in the movement of freight as part of its operations, Central Bedfordshire Council will:
- Require evidence that realistic alternatives to the movement of freight by road based haulage are not possible or practical
- Ensure that developments forecast to generate significant freight movements are located where they deliver the greatest benefit for, businesses, and the least negative impact on the environment and local communities for example within industrial areas close to the Designated Road Freight Network
- Ensure that sufficient land is provided for anticipated freight facilities associated with new developments including construction traffic
- Ensure that proposals likely to generate freight sufficiently mitigate any forecast impacts on local communities and the environment through traffic management measures and developer contributions.