Our appointment often begins soon after the project has been conceived by the client, at the feasibility stage. This will frequently involve two principal questions:
1Is the development in the right place?
In transport planning terms this relates to its location relative to modes of travel other than the private car, and is particularly relevant where the movement of people is concerned, for example in residential, employment and education land uses. However, the sustainable movement of goods should not be ignored and it might be possible to rely to some extent on rail and waterways infrastructure to that end. Where that is not possible, goods vehicles should be able to find convenient routes to the strategic road network without causing undue amenity impacts.
2Can suitable/safe access be achieved?
This generally means the ability of the developer to provide an access or accesses that meet national and local design standards/guidance. However, depending on the scale of development proposed, at the feasibility stage it may also be necessary to consider potential traffic impacts beyond the site itself before the client can be reassured that the scheme is feasible.
Our advice at the feasibility stage typically involves preliminary policy research and accessibility analysis to answer Q1; and preliminary access/highway design to answer Q2. On larger projects we may also become engaged in collaborative masterplanning, which is an iterative process of discussion and design alongside planners, architects, structural/services engineers and experts in landscape, arboriculture, ecology, archaeology.
Our two key objectives are to achieve a scheme that works in movement terms and is sustainable, in both its content and its wider context.
The development plan is a key point of reference for any proposed development and usually comprises the Local Planning Authority’s Local Plan. In some cities, a further level of development plan exists at the regional level, for example the London Plan. The National Planning Policy Framework requires a plan-led planning system, meaning that all new development schemes must comply with the adopted development plan unless special circumstances apply, for example a chronic shortage of new homes in a particular area. All emerging local plans are subject to public scrutiny and most are considered by an independent Inspector appointed by the Planning Inspectorate, a Government agency. TPI provides expert transport advice to corporate or private clients wishing to make transport related representations in respect of these emerging local plans.
There may be some overlap between the feasibility and development plan stages of our work.
Many development schemes are now the subject of pre-application consultation and indeed this is encouraged by both national and local policy. The process requires the professional development team to prepare sufficient written and illustrative information for the local planning and highway authorities to provide formal advice as to the principles of development and, to some extent, the content and design. This advice, which is provided by officers of the relevant authorities, is not binding and does not prejudice the formal decision of the Council, whether at officer level or by council members at the relevant committee.
TPI’s input at this stage will reflect any design parameters defined at the feasibility or development plan stages and often encompass drawings showing proposed access arrangements, vehicle parking provision, parking/servicing layouts, vehicle swept path analysis (vehicle ‘tracking’), cycle/pedestrian provision and the wider non-car accessibility opportunities, including the location of local facilities. It may also extend to preliminary design of off-site infrastructure improvements, based partly on early traffic modelling results. However, it is more likely that the initial pre-application consultation will be used to agree the scope of transport data collection (surveys) and modelling.
Public engagement plays an important part in many development proposals and TPI will often be asked to attend consultation events such as exhibitions or public meetings, at which interested parties may ask questions and provide feedback on the initial proposals. It is not uncommon for the scheme to change as a result of these consultation events.
Depending on the scale of development proposed, TPI will prepare a suite of documents supporting the planning application, which typically involves some or all of the following:
- Transport Assessment/Transport Statement
- Transport chapter of the Environmental Statement
- Travel Plan
- Construction Logistics Plan
- Delivery & Servicing Management Plan
- Car Park Management Plan
- Independent Stage 1 Road Safety Audit, with Designer’s Response
The Transport Assessment/Statement draws together all of the analytical work undertaken in assessing the predicted impacts of the proposal, referring to adopted policies where relevant and considering all modes of transport. It will propose mitigation measures to address any residual impacts, which might include demand management measures including restraint-based parking provision, management tools such as the travel plan or, where appropriate, traffic capacity improvements.
Once the planning application has been submitted, TPI’s primary role is to liaise with the planning and highway authorities, answering any questions that might arise from officers, council members or members of the public. Representations may lead to further work, including design or traffic modelling, which is often submitted within supplementary technical documentation.
Toward the end of the determination period, TPI will often become involved in discussions concerning planning conditions or planning obligations, which are the means by which mitigation measures are secured legally by the planning authority. Where an obligation involves a financial contribution (for example, toward a pre-identified improvement that will be implemented by the planning or highway authority) this is usually achieved under the terms of a Section 106 (Planning Act) agreement. Travel management provisions involving no financial element may be governed by a planning condition. New adoptable public highways, e.g. a residential estate road, are constructed under a Section 38 (Highways Act) agreement, whilst highway improvements are usually delivered under the terms of a Section 278 (Highways Act) agreement. TPI assists with the developer’s legal advisors in negotiating the terms of such agreements.
Depending on the level of public or council member interest in a given scheme, TPI may be asked to attend committee and speak about the transport aspects of the scheme. If the council’s rules allow, we might also answer questions.
If the planning application is approved, TPI will assist in the implementation phase. Typically, this will involve preparing detailed engineering drawings from which the civil engineering contractor can build the highway works under section 278 of the Highways Act. Before the works may commence, the design must be subject to a stage 2 road safety audit and approved by the highway authority.
We also provide further input in respect of any travel management mechanisms required by planning conditions or section-106 ‘obligations’. Usually this means providing more detail within the Travel Plan, Construction Logistics Plan, Servicing Management Plan and Parking Management Plan, as appropriate. Often, the relevant condition will require that these plans are approved by the planning authority before construction or occupation.
In the case of the planning authority’s refusal to grant planning permission, TPI will discuss the prospects of success through the appeals procedure or by means of an amended scheme. When the appeal route is selected, we provide a written Statement of Case on the transport aspects of the case, together with a Statement of Common Ground with the authorities. Should the appeal proceed to a hearing, either informal or public inquiry, we provide expert evidence to the presiding Inspector.