Policy T1

Policy T1: Sustainable transport accessibility and design

Development proposals will be required to demonstrate best practice in respect of sustainable transport accessibility and design.

Accessibility

Approach routes to the site, and access within the development should be accessible to all, giving the highest priority to walking, then cycling and public transport, and should meet the travel needs of people with mobility impairments.

Impact

Adverse transport impacts, including additional circulation and parking space for private motor vehicles, should be minimised.

To mitigate adverse impacts, proposals should be made to improve access by walking, cycling and public transport in the area around the development, and thereby contribute to modal shift towards sustainable transport.

Design

By following best practice, new access roads and residential streets, and alterations to existing ones, will include:

  1. safe, direct and continuous routes for walking, cycling and public transport users to, from and within the site; and
  2. measures to minimise car traffic, exclude through-routes for motor vehicles, and to discourage vehicle speeds exceeding 20mph; and
  3. a family-friendly environment in a high quality public realm, with opportunities for play in residential streets, and a safe environment at day and night.

4.229 The Planning Authority will give pre-application advice on the level of assessment required, which might be a full Transport Assessment, a Transport Statement, or a statement of accessibility within a Design and Access Statement. Durham County Council’s thresholds based on the scale of a development proposal are published in the ‘Planning Validation Requirements’ (Durham County Council, 2017b) and are drawn from the national ‘Guidance on Transport Assessment’ (Department for Transport, 2007a). It should be noted that full Transport Assessments may be required for sites falling below the guideline thresholds if a development is proposed within or adjacent to the Air Quality Management Area or if local transport infrastructure is judged to be inadequate. The Guidance on Transport Assessment (Appendix B, p. 49) indicates that this should apply where there are substandard roads, poor pedestrian or cyclist facilities or inadequate public transport provisions. With respect to pedestrian and cyclist facilities, the context maps (see Maps 9 and 10 in Appendix D) and the detailed paper produced by the Neighbourhood Plan Working Party (Durham City Neighbourhood Plan Working Party, 2019b) should be used to help identify inadequate facilities. Over time this information base may be revised by the City of Durham Parish Council or in the course of production of the Durham City Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.

4.230 Paragraph 4.14 of the Guidance on Transport Assessment (Department for Transport, 2007a) stipulates that “an assessment should be made of the available capacity of the existing cycleway and footpath network in the area of the development” using “appropriate analytical tools and methodologies”. This assessment should inform the development of any Travel Plan, the assessment of modal split, and should indicate any enhancements to the local cycleway and footpath network that may be required. Objective 1 of the ‘County Durham Strategic Cycling and Walking Delivery Plan 2019-2029, Action Plan 2019-2024’ (Durham County Council, 2019c) sets out a range of audit tools which are considered suitable, including Appendices B and C of the ‘Design Guidance: Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013’ (Welsh Government, 2014).

4.231 It will not be acceptable for Transport Assessments and Transport Statements merely to illustrate the potential walking and cycling catchment areas for a development. The current conditions and deficiencies in the networks are material considerations which must be included in the analysis.

4.232 Potential will often exist for development proposals to encourage accessibility by foot, cycle or public transport through the provision of off-site improvements. Funding to remedy deficiencies in the transport network, or to provide capacity enhancement, may be sought via planning obligations. Improvements may include, but should not be limited to, the following measures:

  • widening footways and improving road crossings;
  • providing cycle infrastructure, and addressing conflict with pedestrians;
  • improving accessibility for those using wheelchairs and mobility aids, for example by provision of at-grade crossings or dropped kerbs;
  • improving the lighting, surface or drainage of footpaths;
  • contributing towards construction of new public transport infrastructure;
  • subsidising public transport services for a number of years until they are viable.

4.233 In all cases, solutions should respect the urban or rural context of the routes being adapted. Policy G1 covers footpaths.

4.234 Current best practice, in terms of design, can be found in ‘Design Guidance: Active Travel’ (Welsh Government, 2014), which is one of the design guides mandated by the County Durham Strategic Cycling and Walking Delivery Plan (Durham County Council, 2019c8g). It is currently the most comprehensive and up to date walking and cycling design guide to have received approval through a UK legislative process, and is in accord with UK highways practices. It gathers in one document best practice from earlier publications such as the ‘Manual for Streets’ (Department for Transport, 2007b), ‘Inclusive Mobility’ (Department for Transport, 2005), and ‘Cycle Infrastructure Design’ (Department for Transport, 2008). Designing walking and cycling infrastructure in accordance with this, or similar, guidance will enable the fullest uptake of walking and cycling in Our Neighbourhood. The guidance should be applied to all types of roads and off-road routes so that a network of consistently high quality can be developed.

4.235 The ‘Design Guidance: Active Travel’ (Welsh Government, 2014) covers topics such as surfaces, lighting, the need for seating, for managing street clutter, and for good maintenance, along with advice on determining how pedestrian and cyclist priority at side roads should be handled, and facilities at bus stops. A full range of design elements is provided, which embody best practice, including minimum dimensions. Highly congested pavements are a particular problem in Durham. Objective techniques for assessing footway capacity are provided (para. 4.7.5, page 38) which will determine what level of enhancement is required.

4.236 An important consideration in Our Neighbourhood, which came through strongly during the public consultation, is the need to separate pedestrian and cycle facilities. This is in part prompted by the poor design of existing routes, which are noted on the context maps (see Maps 9 and 10 in Appendix D), exacerbated by the potential for high speeds obtained by cyclists travelling downhill. Section 6.11 (pages 117-120) of the ‘Design Guidance: Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013’ gives detailed advice on segregation of pedestrian and cycle routes, and lists factors that should be used to determine the best design solution. The gradient of the route is an important factor to consider within Our Neighbourhood.

4.237 As transport is a key issue in Durham City, travel plans and transport assessments accompanying development proposals should incorporate local detail, rather than being desk-based exercises. Developers and their consultants are encouraged to engage from the outset with local groups such as the Durham City Cycle Forum (a focus group convened by the County Council), Durham City Access for All Group, and other relevant bodies. The NPPF (para. 128) states that “applications that can demonstrate early, proactive and effective engagement with the community should be looked on more favourably than those that cannot”. Applications should include walking and cycling provision in the design brief at the inception of the design process, as recommended by the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (2018, para. 4 to 10) in their response to the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy Review.

4.238 In assessing the transport impacts of a development, a holistic view is required if the application forms part of a larger development zone, or part of a larger estate in the City. For example, car parking levels provided across the zone or estate should be compared to the prevailing car parking policy, and a commitment made to reduce any excess provision which is not justified.

Justification

4.239 As acknowledged in the ‘Durham City Sustainable Transport Delivery Plan’ (Durham County Council, 2018b, p.7), the relatively small, compact nature of the City suits the promotion of sustainable modes of travel, and thus higher standards and a stronger emphasis on good design are required in Our Neighbourhood. Regarding land use planning, the Sustainable Transport Delivery Plan (p. 33) recommends the highest possible design standards should be applied to development sites and to access on foot, by cycle and by public transport. Chapter 12 of the NPPF sets out how to achieve well-designed places, particularly emphasising that local and neighbourhood plans should set out a clear design vision, including recommending design guides. These provide clarity to developers at the earliest stage of the design process. To meet climate change commitments, and to build a healthier, more liveable environment, a sustained shift towards sustainable transport modes will be required, and new developments present an opportunity to increase the proportion of sustainable transport journeys over the average in the local area.

Next section: Policy T2: Residential Car Parking

5 Responses to Policy T1

  1. Timothy Clark says:

    The north end of Hallgarth Street, leading to the junction with New Elvet, has an excruciatingly narrow pavement on the left side going north, accessible in part only by one person at a time.

    The pedestrian crossing points near the New Inn pub and the Main Univ. Library are a serious pedestrian bottle neck. This is a complex junction and waiting times for walkers are exasperatingly long. This can lead to people dashing across recklessly. The observation, standing there, that most cars have only one occupant only adds to the deep resentment this area can induce. I suspect that, as long these machines dominate most public space with their noise and violence, the best solution here would be some sort of underpass, even though such spaces tend to be unattractive.

    The pressure increasing student numbers must put on the limited pavement space needs to be fully acknowledged. The situation in some areas is already becoming dangerous, with people swerving into the roads. The pavement at the north end of New Elvet (outside the two pubs there) is a third pressure point to be added to the two already mentioned.

  2. Durham City Access For All Group says:

    The map of pedestrian issues identifies some of the City’s pavements which are in need of repair or improvement. We note that the issue concerning the use of Owengate to access the WHS by wheelchair and mobility scooter users is flagged, but there are many other streets which present severe difficulties for such users. Pavements along the whole of The Bailey are in a poor state, and in South Bailey are visually unusable because of the lack of dropped kerbs. Even where refurbishment has been undertaken, as in Dun Cow Lane, the needs of wheelchair users have been entirely ignored. Silver Street, despite recent refurbishment, remains a difficult and uncomfortable street for wheelchair users to negotiate, partly because of its poor surface design. Similarly the surfaces on Elvet and Framwellgate Bridges have presented difficulties and discomfort for wheelchair users. Sutton Street, Alexander Crescent, Crossgate and Marjory Lane can be hazardous for some wheelchair users because the pavements are narrow. Also, some City streets have steep inclines and, for that reason, are hazardous for wheelchair users; they should be identified even if there is little that can be done to make them safe.

  3. Peter Hayes says:

    I am in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan in general, including this section with its emphasis on prioritising the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. I wonder, however, whether words should be added to the effect of: ‘Nothing in the plans for the city should be seen as in anyway justifying further road building schemes around the perimeter.’ I say this because I remember a proposal being mooted to cut the traffic lanes on the A690 Milburngate Bridge from two lanes down to one, ostensibly to enhance it for cyclists and pedestrians. The alleged justification for cutting the road lanes on the bridge is plainly untrue: the current dual use path for cyclists and pedestrians works perfectly well, and the real reason for the proposal is to cause sufficient traffic jams to justify building another road and bridge downriver.

  4. Helen Cannam says:

    Pressure on the pavements in the city is likely to increase if the University expands as much as it currently proposes to do. It seems to me that there is a serious flaw in the argument made by the University authorities that to be a world-class institution it must have a massive growth in numbers of students. St Andrews and Harvard (to name but two) are both world-class bodies, but show no inclination to expand beyond their current modest size. Durham is a small city which already at times feels overwhelmed by the student population. Widening pavements and improving pinch-points (though desirable) are not adequate solutions to this in the long run.

  5. John Pacey says:

    POLICY T 1
    I support this Policy,and suggest that T 1.2 be reworded to help those as stupid as I am to
    understand it more easily.
    I also wonder whether a more assertive statement could be made in relation to funding suggestions via planning obligations-(para.4.192)