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South East Transport Strategy

In response to the need for a more unified approach to transport infrastructure improvements throughout the South East, Transport for the South East (TfSE) recently published the consultation draft of its Transport Strategy for the next 30 years. Transport Director, Simon Moon, attended a recent consultation event in Canterbury and gives his views on the matter.

The South East boasts the UK’s second largest regional economy, due in no small part to the unique position it occupies as the gateway to the UK from mainland Europe. However, all too often, the transport network experiences problems which impede upon the reliability and efficiency of journeys in the South East. The knock-on effects of these issues are felt throughout the South East in a multitude of ways that can be split broadly into three categories; Economic, Social and Environmental.

In response to these issues, TfSE was set up two years ago with the intention of enabling the region to speak in a unified way to ensure that government money for transport infrastructure upgrades is spent where it is really needed. In October I attended a consultation event where we were offered the opportunity to talk one to one about the draft Strategy with the people who wrote it.

The overarching principle of the Strategy is clear; the economy of the South East must continue to grow over the life of the Strategy; but this growth cannot come at any cost. New homes, jobs and businesses must continue to develop, but to facilitate this growth the money available for transport infrastructure must be spent effectively to ensure the maximum benefit for the economy, the environment and the people who live there.

In the short term, targeted investment at local congestion hot spots and investment in digital technologies will work to reduce delay at key points throughout the South East’s road and railway networks.

Longer term it is of course not feasible to continue attempting to accommodate an ever growing number of cars on the road. The Transport Strategy is therefore clear that moving forward, local policy must involve a push towards a more joined up and sustainable approach, with consideration given to the relationship between transport and housing. Achieving this will involve significant investment in public transport infrastructure, to encourage a shift away from the private car where possible.

One thing that was clear from the consultation event was that TfSE want to bring stakeholders together to tackle the big picture issues. The Strategy clearly sets out that it’s overarching objectives can only be achieved if Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and organisations including Network Rail and Highways England work constructively together.

DHA is well placed to advice our clients on the implications of the above in terms of development planning. With offices in both Maidstone and Crawley, DHA is also well positioned geographically to address issues throughout the South East.

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