Policy T1: Accessibility of Proposed Developments
T1.1: Proposals for new development will be required, where applicable, to:
- demonstrate that any new or altered infrastructure favours sustainable transport; and
- meet the mobility needs of all including the special needs of people with disabilities.
T1.2: For larger developments, which require a transport statement or transport assessment to be completed, development proposals will be required to:
- apply the transport user hierarchy above to minimise adverse transport impacts and avoid the need for additional motor vehicle capacity; and
- contribute to modal shift towards sustainable transport; and
- demonstrate convenient public transport access to the whole development, with bus stops being available within 400 metres’ walk; and
- provide high quality routes which prioritise foot and cycle traffic within the site, are direct and continuous and segregated from other road users, directly linked to external foot and cycle networks, giving good connections to local services, amenities and public transport.
T1.3: Assessment of accessibility: Where a Transport Assessment is required to be submitted the accessibility of the proposed development by walking, cycling and public transport should be assessed thoroughly, with the object of identifying any constraints on access and any measures, on or off site, which would reduce generated motor traffic or improve the conditions for sustainable transport.
4.188 Transport statements and assessments should examine the feasibility of typical journeys associated with the site. For example, for residential developments the assessment should look at routes to general food shops, community facilities including healthcare, and schools. For student accommodation, routes to the appropriate university or college buildings would also be assessed. For retail and business premises consideration should be given to deliveries, and journeys by employees and customers.
4.189 The quality of walking and cycling routes to and from the development should be assessed through applying objective techniques such as the walking and cycling audit tools found in Appendices B and C of ‘Design Guidance: Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013’ (Welsh Government, 2014), as adopted for infrastructure audits by Durham County Council’s sustainable transport team. It will not be acceptable to describe the walking or cycling catchment area by taking a radius without evaluating the quality or utility of the travel networks. Highways England (2016) interim advice note gives requirements and advice on designing for cycle traffic for the Strategic Road Network (SRN), i.e. roads managed by the Highways England. Its purpose is to ensure that SRN infrastructure facilitates the convenient and safe movement of cycle traffic crossing or travelling along the SRN, where cycling is legally permitted.
4.190 The accompanying maps (Map 11 and Map 12) are based on consultations carried out during the development of our Neighbourhood Plan (Durham City Neighbourhood Planning Forum, 2016b), and show walking and cycling routes which need improvement. They should not be taken as comprehensive. Assessment of routes extending beyond Our Neighbourhood may be required to demonstrate the acceptability of a proposed development. Durham County Council is compiling and maintaining assessments of current cycle infrastructure, public rights of way, and potential improvements, and these should be used in analysis.
4.191 County Durham Cycling Strategy and Action Plan, 2012–2015 (Durham County Council, 2012a) is the current cycling strategy: a revised policy is being prepared and is expected to be published for consultation in the summer of 2017. The aims of the strategy include: integrating cycling policies within other strategies; creating consistently high standards for on and off road cycle infrastructure; developing and maintaining a more comprehensive network; contributing to economic growth by encouraging cycling tourism and reducing car travel through Travel Plans; protecting the cycling network from negative impacts of development.
4.192 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 foodways; or
- providing cycle infrastructure; or
- improving the lighting, surface or drainage of footpaths, with solutions that respect their urban or rural nature; or
- contributing towards construction of new public transport infrastructure; or
- subsidising public transport services for a number of years until they are viable.
4.193 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.
4.194 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.
4.195 The definition of a Transport Assessment in the glossary of the NPPF lays particular emphasis on the need to identify measures to improve accessibility for walking, cycling and public transport. 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.
Map 11: Map of Pedestrian Issues
Here is a zoomable map of the pedestrian issues.
Note: A detailed discussion of the map is available: Map11Details
Map 12: Map of Cycling Issues
Here is a zoomable map of the cycling issues.
4.196 Map 12 shows a possible cycle network. Residential streets are not included unless they act as important through routes. Only those routes coloured green or yellow currently have specific provision for cycling. For the routes coloured red, purple or blue, it may be appropriate to provide a cycle route which parallels the indicated route, providing it is not much less direct or much steeper. Upgrading or redesignation of any routes would be subject to the usual consultation processes: this map indicates possibilities for the density of network needed if people are to be able to make cycle journeys throughout Our Neighbourhood.
Next section: Policy T2: Designing for Sustainable Transport