Planning Policy Wales 10- Active Travel Highlights

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Acknowledgement.  We are grateful to Chris Roberts, Secretary of the Welsh Assembly Cross Party Group on the Active Travel Act for this distillation of the complex planning policy document.


Sections of the Planning Policy Document relevant to Active Travel.

4.1.10 Development proposals must seek to maximise accessibility by walking, cycling and public transport, by prioritising the provision of appropriate on-site infrastructure and, where necessary, mitigating transport impacts through the provision of off-site measures, such as the development of active travel routes, bus priority infrastructure and financial support for public transport services

4.1.11 It is Welsh Government policy to require the use of a sustainable transport hierarchy in relation to new development, which prioritises walking, cycling and public transport ahead of the private motor vehicles. The transport hierarchy recognises that Ultra Low Emission Vehicles also have an important role to play in the decarbonisation of transport, particularly in rural areas with limited public transport services.

4.1.13 The sustainable transport hierarchy must be a key principle in the preparation of development plans, including site allocations, and when considering and determining planning applications.

4.1.14 Careful consideration needs to be given to the allocation of new sites, which are likely to generate significant levels of movement in development plans, to ensure that access provisions which promote walking and cycling, as well as by public transport, are included from the outset and that any implications associated with airborne pollution can be addressed.

4.1.16 Different approaches to sustainable transport will be required in different parts of Wales, particularly in rural areas, and new development will need to reflect local circumstances. For example, a planning authority wishing to grow a rural village, despite it having limited public transport accessibility, could apply the transport hierarchy by: first considering how the location and design of new development could encourage walking and cycling to shops and services in the village centre; then consider whether new development could be located near a bus stop or enable improvements to the bus service; before finally considering the needs of private motor vehicles, including measures to encourage the use of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles.

4.1.21 The Welsh Government policy, Manual for Streets and its companion guide Manual for Streets 220, requires that street design should not follow the conventional engineering led approach. The design of new or enhanced streets should respond to urban design principles, including those in Manual for Streets and the Active Travel Design Guidance21, and not adhere to ridged standards. Design Bulletin 32: Residential Roads and Footpaths has been superseded by Manual for Streets.

4.1.27 The Active Travel Act is complemented by statutory Design Guidance23. The guidance sets out the standards expected of new and improved active travel infrastructure in Wales, including related facilities, and the considerations to be taken into account when choosing the design solutions for particular routes and sites. It also sets out effective approaches to planning walking and cycling networks and includes audit tools to assess existing infrastructure and future routes for their suitability.

4.1.28 The planning system has an important role to play in promoting and supporting the delivery of the Active Travel Act and creating the right environments and infrastructure to make it easier for people to walk and cycle, including new and improved routes and related facilities.

4.1.29 (…) Provision for active travel must be an essential component of development schemes and planning authorities must ensure new developments are designed and integrated with existing settlements and networks, in a way which makes active travel a practical, safe and attractive choice.

4.1.30 Planning authorities must support active travel by ensuring new development is fully accessible by walking and cycling. The aim should be to create walkable neighbourhoods, where a range of facilities are within walking distance of most residents, and the streets are safe, comfortable and enjoyable to walk and cycle.

4.1.31 Planning authorities must ensure new housing, jobs, shopping, leisure and services are highly accessible by walking and cycling. The design of development proposals should, in accordance with the sustainable transport hierarchy, start with identifying the shortest, most attractive walking and cycling connections and then addressing the other transport needs. Further guidance on this is contained within Manual for Streets and the Active Travel Design Guidance.

4.1.42 The provision of ULEV charging points should be planned as part of the overall design of a development. Charging points must not cause an obstruction to walking or cycling, should be resistant to vandalism, and located where there is good lighting and natural surveillance.

5.3.2 Planning authorities should support necessary transport infrastructure improvements, where it can be demonstrated that such measures are consistent with Welsh Government policy to encourage and increase use of sustainable transport and reduce reliance on the private car for daily journeys. Transport infrastructure should not generate significant demand for additional car movements or contribute to urban sprawl or neighbourhood severance. The planning and design of transport infrastructure must consider the needs of users of active and sustainable transport before that of the private car, taking into account the sustainable transport hierarchy.

Public Transport

5.3.6 Planning authorities must promote and facilitate the provision and decarbonisation of high quality public transport infrastructure. Development plans should identify and support appropriate public transport routes, measures and facilities. This should take into account proposals in the Local Transport Plan (LTP), which could include improved facilities for bus passengers, park and ride schemes, new rail lines, including light rail, the re-opening of rail lines, the provision of new stations, and enhanced passenger services on existing lines. Development plans should also identify where additional public transport is required to support new development.

Footnote:-It is important to remember that changes in Planning Policy Wales will not immediately impact on every individual planning decision.  Its principal impact is on local authorities’ local development plans, so it will take some time to work through the system.  However, it also plays an important, and immediate, role where local authorities do not have a local development plan in place and in some planning appeals.