The revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has been published by Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government today for consultation (open until 12th May 2018).  The update echoes the housing White Paper that was published in February of this year, in so much that Local Authorities are expected to identify additional development opportunities arising from strategic (transport) infrastructure investment.

Chapter 9 specifically covers ‘Promoting sustainable transport’ and the revised document has become a little more concise in its approach to transport related matters (down from 13 key policies to 9), albeit they do mirror the previous NPPF points from 2012; however, we have identified 3 notable changes that will need to be considered in the preparation of Transport Assessment/Statements and Travel Plans:

  • Whilst Sustainability remains the ‘Golden Thread’ running through the document there is a new emphasis on vehicle emissions and air quality. mode transport planning has been incorporating air quality emissions assessments into some of our Transport Assessments and subsequently implementing emissions mitigation strategies through the delivery of well-considered Travel Plans;
  • Maybe more surprisingly, the revised document suggests a softening in the stance towards the adoption of maximum parking standards, suggesting that parking need not be constrained where the local highway network can accommodate (or mitigate!) the resultant traffic impacts. We feel that is could result in a change in approach to trip derivation and could be a source of much debate between developers and Local Authorities; and
  • It is also welcomed that ‘severe’ road safety impacts have now been identified as a key policy test; however further confusion could creep into the (transport) planning process, as the revised NPPF suggest that highway network capacity and congestion should be mitigated to an “acceptable degree”? This still leaves a somewhat ambiguous threshold/position which will always be open to interpretation and opinion and will no doubt be debated further in the Courts during the Appeals process.

Overall the chapter recommends that all developments that are forecast to generate ‘significant’ amounts of movement should be required to provide a Travel Plan (TP) and should be supported by a Transport Statement (TS) or Transport Assessment (TA) so that the likely impacts of the proposal can be assessed.

At mode transport planning, we are already highly experienced in assisting and advising our developer clients in relation to the impacts of their development proposals and the transportation related policies; and we will continue to review the transport implications to developers in more detail over the coming weeks.