Core Policy 61 (CP61) ‘Transport and New Development’ in the adopted Wiltshire Core Strategy includes that in determining planning applications, consideration must be given to the needs of all transport users according to an identified user hierarchy.
Core Policy 61 (CP61) ‘Transport and New Development’ in the adopted Wiltshire Core Strategy includes that in determining planning applications, consideration must be given to the needs of all transport users according to an identified user hierarchy. In practice, however, this is often not adhered to, with the needs of non-car users not being given the required priority in the design of new development. Ultimately, this leads to new developments being largely car focused and perpetuating a car dependent lifestyle with resultant social and environmental impacts including increased carbon emissions.
What is the challenge?
Core Policy 61 ‘Transport and New Development’ in the adopted Wiltshire Core Strategy 2026 (adopted January 2015) includes the following:
As part of a required transport assessment, the following must be demonstrated:
That consideration has been given to the needs of all transport users (where
relevant) according to the following hierarchy.
a. Visually impaired and other disabled people
d. Public transport
e. Goods vehicles
f. Powered two-wheelers
g. Private cars
The above was included in the Core Strategy to help address the fact that new developments have not always catered (e.g. by having layouts which are bus friendly) or provided (e.g. by having convenient cycle storage) for the needs of sustainable transport users or operators.
In practice, however, the hierarchy is often not adhered to in the determination of planning applications with the result that the needs of non-car users are not afforded the required priority in the design of new development. Ultimately, this leads to much new development being largely car focused and perpetuating a car dependent lifestyle with resultant social and environmental impacts including increased carbon emissions.
In many respects, this situation is not unique to Wiltshire Council. As set-out in the Department for Transport’s (DfT’s) ‘Decarbonising Transport – A better, greener Britain’ (July 2021) document:
“…while many local plans already say the right things, they are not always followed consistently in planning decisions. Developments often do little or nothing meaningful to enable cycling and walking, or to be properly and efficiently accessible by public transport. Sometimes they make cycling and walking provision worse”.
To help address this issue, the document outlined that the DfT would be working with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (now the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities):
“…to identify how we can best support local authorities to develop innovative sustainable transport policies as part of the planning process, how this can be used to better assess planning applications, and better monitor local transport outcomes to deliver on our ambitions for sustainable transport use”.
While the above approach is beginning to emerge (e.g. through the setting up of Active Travel England and the publication of the National Model Design Code), there remains the need to better understand why the existing hierarchy approach is not being followed and to ensure that the emerging national approach is supported and utilised in determining planning applications.
As a result of the action learning set programme what actions will you now take to address the challenge?
The following actions came out an interesting and informative discussion with fellow participants on the action learning set programme:
- Utilising ‘open’ questions as far as possible, discuss with relevant officers in development management (planning and highways) the reasons why the current user hierarchy approach is not always followed and/or supported.
- Arrange a workshop to further discuss the above and to outline the Government’s emerging approach, along with its application to Wiltshire and how we can incorporate any necessary changes.
- As part of the above, consider the development of a transport checklist/criteria approach for new developments.
What will be the impact?
Better adherence to the hierarchy in CP61 in determining planning applications should lead to new developments being designed primarily for non-car users. In doing so, this will result in improved social and environmental outcomes.
How will you look to sustain the approach in the long term?
Through better and more regular ongoing engagement with development management colleagues.
The action learning set programme was a reminder of the value of allocating time to connect and communicate with people (e.g. within teams or projects) on issues at both the ‘principle’ and ‘practical’ levels.