Travel Plan performance under scrutiny
Travel plans are designed to reduce journeys and are fundamental to delivering sustainable development, however their performance is being increasingly monitored.
Transport planners at DHA believe these plans can no longer be viewed as a tick box exercise and a way of alleviating increases in traffic concerns at the planning application stage.
Although primarily associated with the development of schools, Travel Plans, also known as Green Travel Plans, are quite often now a pre-requisite for most major planning applications; whether it’s seeking permission for residential, commercial, leisure, healthcare or retail development. Additionally, they are increasingly becoming a requirement post-application, often being requested as a condition following planning approval.
The recent appointment of a Travel Plan Monitoring Officer by Kent County Council has raised sustainable transport up the agenda in the local area, leading to many developers appointing Travel Plan Co-ordinator to work on their schemes in Kent.
Joely Hill, Senior Transport Planner at DHA, argues that Travel Plans need to be seen as an important live document with achievable targets to reduce travel by car. To ensure a travel plan is successful, the performance of each plan needs to be scrutinized through monitoring.
She said: “For too long travel plans were viewed as just a tick box exercise. Local highways authorities across the country are recognising that funding to build new roads or improve new junctions is limited, and with increases in traffic largely being a key concern amongst local residents, now is the time to try and highlight the different travel options available to drivers.”
Each Travel Plan contains tailor-made actions and measures to encourage sustainable choices with the aim of reducing travel to a site.
Each plan can add value to a development by:
- Minimising unnecessary journeys and the costs associated with them;
- Reducing parking demand across the site;
- Increasing the number of transport options available to residents and visitors thereby making the site more attractive;
- Promoting healthy lifestyles through more physical activity and use of active travel modes; and
- Reducing peak time congestion, and therefore noise and air pollution, benefiting the surrounding community.
Setting out objectives and targets to encourage safe and healthy travel options including walking, cycling and public transport to ultimately reduce the number of car trips is at the heart of each plan. However, they are not intended to be anti-car in their approach, offering alternatives to driving along through car sharing initiatives, for example.
Key to the success of a Travel Plan is the appointment of a Travel Plan Co-ordinator. The Co-ordinator ensures the plan is effectively implemented and promoted and they also act as a point of contact for the site users who have any travel related queries.
DHA has been appointed as the Travel Plan Co-ordinator for a number of developments, including a large residential development in east-Kent on behalf of a national housebuilder.
As the site Travel Plan Co-ordinator for the next 10 years, DHA will take on responsibility for promoting sustainable travel options to residents from when they move in to their new home. DHA is committed to promoting and monitoring the Travel Plan, as well as being the ‘human face’ of it.
The role includes providing transport information, liaising with local schools, authorities and public transport operators. It also includes undertaking travel surveys with residents to establish the current travel patterns and reporting the findings to the local Council through a monitoring report.
DHA will also produce Welcome Packs for the new residents, which include a range of travel information including walking and cycle maps and local public transport information. To encourage sustainable choices, each pack also includes discount vouchers for cycles negotiated by DHA with the local cycle shop. DHA uses the residents travel surveys to find further improvements and incentives for the forthcoming year.
As the role develops, DHA will work with the local bus operator to ensure that the services are meeting local demand and with the local councils to ensure that the footpaths, cycle routes and bus stops surrounding the site are in good condition to encourage more travel by foot, bicycle and public transport.
Joely Hill added: “We are fully committed to changing the way people think about how they travel, encouraging sustainable transport choices that improve people’s lives while minimising the impact on the surrounding environment and communities.”
If you would like more information on how we could help with your developments Travel Plan, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with a member of our Transport team.