The Forum has responded to Durham County Council’s ‘Draft Durham City Sustainable Transport Strategy and Action Plan 2015-30’. A number of stakeholder meetings were held and the people attending these meetings had the opportunity to respond to the draft. An amended draft in the light of these responses will then be put out to public consultation later in 2016.
The NPF’s response to the Council’s Draft Sustainable Transport Strategy welcomed the general thrust of the document and the recognition of the significance of the Neighbourhood Plan alongside the County Plan. Particularly positive aspects of the document were:
- The recognition that Durham is a compact, walk-able city.
- That the economic future of Durham City will be built on the quality of its environment.
- The need to improve air quality in the city centre.
- That the car cannot meet the growing demand for travel and that walking, cycling and public transport need to be prioritised.
However, there is a central weakness in the strategy: the reliance on the construction of a Northern Relief Road to resolve the perceived problems of traffic congestion in the city centre. The current harmful levels of air pollution in the city centre are an immediate problem and we cannot afford to wait 15 years to tackle it. All the measures to promote sustainable transport contained in this strategy must be pursued urgently and effectively to improve air quality much sooner.
The Forum will provide a detailed, technical response for the subsequent public consultation.