Transport professionals have called for sustainable transport to be at the heart of the planning system through local targets, ‘rather than an afterthought’.
The Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) said it has made a series of key recommendations in its response to the Government’s ‘Planning for the Future’ White Paper, in discussion with the Transport Planning Society and the Royal Town Planning Institute.
'Transport, mode share and accessibility targets and standards need to be fundamental components of the national rules for Local Plans. All Local Plans should be required to include targets for different modes for each stage throughout the life of the Plan,' the CIHT said.
The news comes after Transport Network revealed that the Department for Transport's and communities department MHCLG are in debate about stronger government intervention in new housing developments to prevent car dependency.
Chief executive Sue Percy CBE said: ‘This review of planning is a unique opportunity to address some of our fundamental concerns with the existing planning system and its ability to respond to the acute challenges including supporting sustainable growth as set out by the government in their White Paper.
‘Sustainable transport needs to be at the heart of the Planning White Paper, if we are to achieve net zero by 2050, deliver quality place and improve health and wellbeing.
‘The benefits of ensuring transport is considered at the earliest stage and throughout the planning process will ensure we can build and maintain the infrastructure people want and work towards a zero-net carbon future.’
Ms Percy said the CIHT’s detailed response ‘focuses on six main areas where transport must be given greater importance if the planning reforms are to deliver real sustainable development, improve people’s lives and effectively tackle the emergencies of climate change, air pollution and obesity’.
1) Support the vision of sustainable development: Collaboration and engagement elements of the planning regime should be made statutory requirements. The approach should involve multiple stakeholders including highway and transport authorities, and operators to ensure that transport is at the heart of this vision.
2) Revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework Revisions to the NPPF need to ensure that the requirement for sustainable transport provision features consistently. Rather than an afterthought, it must coherently underpin decision-making throughout.
3) Design guides at the national and local level: National and local design guides should ensure that sustainable transport is integral to design at each level – community, street, home. They need to relate to the forthcoming Manual for Streets update and previous CIHT advice on walking, cycling and public transport.
4) Planning Policy Guidance on sustainable transport: Ensure the Local Plan integrates transport throughout and into the delivery. Transport, mode share and accessibility targets and standards need to be fundamental components of the national rules for Local Plans. All Local Plans should be required to include targets for different modes for each stage throughout the life of the Plan.
5) The role of transport assessments: The current transport appraisal system needs to be urgently reformed to enable plans and developments to be tested against clear and agreed social, environmental, and economic objectives which reinforce the decarbonisation of transport and improve accessibility. It must move away from the predict and provide methodology that has seen increases in space for motor vehicles to the detriment of communities and space for healthier modes.
6) Increasing the capability and capacity of professionals: Much more work is needed to increase the capability, capacity and resources available for professionals to achieve better places, housing, and sustainable transport.
The response was published as the RAC’s annual Report on Motoring revealed that more than half of UK drivers (57%) said having access to a car is more important than it was before the pandemic, with reluctance to use public transport in the future at its highest level in 18 years.