Movement and transport
The transport network connects people and places and is essential for supporting growth in the district and improving the quality of life of our communities.
Rebalancing the transport network towards more walking, cycling and public transport and supporting low-emission vehicles are clear government priorities. As transport contributes to more than a quarter of UK greenhouse gas emissions, the new Local Plan and its transport strategy can play a significant role in responding to climate change.
Addressing congestion and improving air quality were clear messages from the consultation last year, and people suggested that improving street environments to make walking and cycling safer and more attractive, and providing more better-quality public transport services were all important elements to achieve this.
In this section we are asking about things like active travel, how we can achieve greater use of public transport, supporting a rapid transition to zero emission vehicles and how we approach parking for new developments.
Maximising active travel in the district
Active travel, like walking and cycling, gives people the opportunity to be physically active as part of their daily routine. This can contribute to healthy lifestyles, improve mental health and boost productivity at work.
It also plays a key role in reducing emissions and protecting our environment. It’s important that residents in new developments have access to safe and attractive walking and cycling paths that mean they can get around easily and reduce the need to go by car.
National planning policies make it clear that new developments should create healthy, inclusive and safe places for residents to live in. Proposals for new developments should identify and maximise opportunities for walking and cycling. This includes providing a high quality walking and cycling network with the appropriate supporting facilities, and designing layouts that encourage walking and cycling.
Kent County Council is also promoting active travel, and is supportive of segregated routes which provide safe and pleasant environments for pedestrians and cyclists.
The consultation showed strong support for promoting active travel to improve air quality within the district. Many people would like to see more safe and attractive walking and cycling paths with the supporting infrastructure. Some expressed support for more safe cycle storage at bus or rail stations.
Others expressed support for prioritising active travel over modes of transport, while others commented that new developments should be located within 15 minute walking or cycling time to important services and community facilities.
Issue MT1. How can we maximise active travel in the district?
Option MT1A – continue with the current approach to safeguard pedestrian and cycle routes
This option would continue the existing approach to walking and cycling by protecting safeguarded routes to the walking and cycling network from development which might affect their delivery.
This includes projects like the Canterbury pedestrian zone improvements and creating a mainly off-road route from Herne Bay to Canterbury to provide an attractive alternative to the A291.
Option MT1B – (preferred option) all new developments must show how they will maximise opportunities for walking and cycling
This option would prioritise opportunities to enhance the quality of, and access to, the walking and cycling network as part of development proposals. Developments would be expected to show best practice in design for cyclists and make sure the layout is fully accessible, provide appropriate access to cycle storage in line with parking standards and encourage walking for short trips.
This approach would require all proposals for ‘major’ development to show in the transport assessment and travel plan how they are designed to encourage walking and cycling and are integrated with the existing walking and cycling networks. ‘Small’ development would need to show the same requirement through a transport statement. In some cases new developments might need to make improvements to existing walking and cycling routes to maximise opportunities from their development.
Supporting greater use of public transport in the district
Public transport like buses and trains provide vital connectivity for a wide range of users, including people who do not drive and those making longer distance trips.
As public transport can move many more people on much less space than individual vehicles, effective public transport systems can reduce congestion, which in turn reduces air pollution from idling vehicles and commuters can avoid the stress that comes from driving in congested areas.
Bus travel plays a significant role in reducing the numbers of cars on urban roads.
Bus passenger numbers have more than doubled since 2004 when the Quality Bus Partnership was formed. Strategic development sites must make improvements to the bus network to serve their sites. Investment in bus facilities and bus infrastructure have improved the attractiveness of bus travel. Further investment will be needed to continue the pattern of improvements as the district continues to develop.
National planning policies say that Local Plans should look for opportunities to promote public transport. Local authorities are encouraged to work with local highways authorities and other infrastructure providers to support sustainable transport and make sure development patterns are aligned.
We work with Kent County Council (KCC) on a range of transport projects, and the current Transport Strategy was prepared jointly with them. They think that public transport is likely to become a key form of transport following the COVID-19 recovery, and the new Local Plan should boost accessibility of rail stations in the district, with measures including parking facilities with enough electric vehicle charging, and secure cycle storage.
Many people expressed support for more reliable public transport which is accessible for all, including those who need wheelchair access.
There was also support for rail stations to be better connected to other modes of sustainable transport including buses and cycles. Others expressed support for greener public transport like electric buses.
Issue MT2. How do we support greater use of public transport in the district?
Option MT2A – continue with the current approach to bus improvements
This option would continue the existing approach to bus infrastructure, by protecting safeguarded routes from development which might affect their delivery.
This includes projects like the fast bus link from the South Canterbury development.
Option MT2B – (preferred option) all major developments must show how they will maximise access to the existing local bus network
This approach would need all proposals for ‘major’ development – including proposals for 10 or more homes, more than 1,000sqm of floor space or on sites of more than 0.5 hectares – to show how they will maximise access to the local bus network.
Developments which generate the need for new highway layouts should include enough bus infrastructure. Where a new highway layout is not created, then the development should introduce new infrastructure, or enhance existing infrastructure, at appropriate locations on the current public transport network if this is needed to create suitable access arrangements.
This should include opportunities to provide bus priority measures like bus-only streets and bus lanes. Developers will be expected to pay commuted sums to cover future maintenance of infrastructure. New developments might need to make improvements to existing bus routes to maximise opportunities from their development. This could involve putting more money into additional bus services.
Option MT2C – continue with the current approach to rail improvements
This option would continue the existing approach to rail infrastructure by protecting safeguarded locations from development which might affect their delivery.
This includes projects like the Canterbury West Station improvements which aims to provide opportunities around the station and increase parking capacity to meet the future demand.
Option MT2D – (preferred option) all major developments must show how they will maximise access to rail services
This approach would need all proposals for ‘major’ development – including proposals for 10 or more homes, more than 1,000sqm of floorspace or on sites of more than 0.5 hectares – to show how access to the rail network would be achieved.
Development proposals would need to look at:
- walking distances and walking routes to stations
- cycling distance and cycle routes to stations
- convenience of bus access to stations
- details of destinations served from the rail station
- frequencies of the services
- waiting facilities
Developments will need to look at opportunities to improve accessibility to rail services, and we will work with our partners to develop improvement schemes across the district.
Supporting the rapid transition to zero emissions vehicles
Transport is the reason for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in the district. Moving to electric vehicles will play an important role in reducing local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
We need to plan for current and prospective electric vehicle drivers to be able to easily find and use charging points that are affordable, efficient and reliable. This includes providing enough active spaces that are fully wired and connected, and ready to use charging points as well as capacity to add more improvements.
This means we’ll need to make sure the underlying infrastructure is in place to allow simple installation and activation of a charging point at a future date.
Investment in rapid charging points will also be important. They help recharge electric vehicle batteries in a quicker time, which means they can travel further, as long as there are enough fast charging points on their journey.
National planning policies set out that the environmental impacts of traffic and transport infrastructure should be identified and assessed so that appropriate opportunities can be taken to avoid and, where necessary, mitigate any adverse environmental effects.
In 2020 the government set a mission for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2035. In order to support this mission, we will need a fit-for-purpose infrastructure network.
People commented they would like to see increased provision of EV charging points across the district to encourage a switch to electric vehicles.
Others suggested that all new homes should be installed with EV charging points.
Issue MT3. How will we support the rapid transition to zero emissions vehicles?
Option MT3A – continue with the existing approach to electric vehicle infrastructure
The current approach normally needs all off-street parking spaces in large strategic developments to have ‘active’ EV charging points, and secure storage, parking and charging facilities that cater for e-bikes and scooters.
Currently we also say that around 10% of parking spaces in commercial developments should have ‘active’ EV charging points.
Option MT3B – (preferred option) accelerated transition to zero emissions vehicles
This option would build on Option MT3A by needing all off-street parking spaces in all developments to have ‘active’ EV charging points. Where on-street parking is provided, we would ask that 20% are ‘active’ (to include allocated spaces for visitors) and 80% have ‘passive’ infrastructure to allow the transition to EV over the period of the Local Plan.
This approach would also increase requirements for commercial development, so that 20% of parking spaces have ‘active’ EV charging points, to include a minimum of 10 rapid charge points for large retail developments like supermarkets, where users will normally visit for shorter periods of time.
Alongside this, we would work with our partners to develop strategic measures to promote electric shared transport schemes, accelerate the rollout of electric or hydrogen buses, and to explore the potential for a Clean Air Zone.
Setting parking standards in the Local Plan
The need for greater controls over parking has developed as a result of growth in traffic; particularly in the ownership and use of private cars. The level of ownership has led to increased levels of congestion and pollution. This is particularly an issue in urban areas which are more densely populated.
In some areas across the district, cars have started to park on pavements where there is not enough off-road parking or a parking management scheme. This can create issues for buses or HGVs to use these roads.
The Local Plan can address some of these issues by implementing parking standards or requiring parking management schemes which can reduce parking in more densely populated areas, or where congestion is known to be an issue.
National planning policies set out that Local Plans should think about accessibility of the development, and the type, mix, and use when setting local parking standards.
The level of local car ownership should also be looked at alongside the availability of, and opportunities for, public transport. There will also be a need to provide enough spaces for charging plug in and other ultra-low emission vehicles.
People highlighted the need for enough parking spaces for residents, visitors and deliveries.
Some people commented that parking bays in new developments are often too small and too few.
Issue MT4. How should we set parking standards in the Local Plan?
Option MT4A – continue with the current approach to parking standards
The existing parking standards are based on guidance from KCC, developed in 2006 and 2008.
They need differing car and cycle parking spaces depending on the uses proposed, like residential or office. They also differ by area, so that less parking is provided in developments in town centres for example, rather than on the edge of the urban areas.
Option MT4B – remove parking standards and adopt a more flexible approach to specific sites
This option would remove the current parking standards and instead adopt a flexible approach to parking.
This would allow for decisions to be made on a case-by-case basis at the planning application stage, taking into consideration the sustainability as well as the characteristics of the site.
Option MT4C – (preferred option) amend the current parking standards to significantly reduce car parking in the most sustainable locations, and to allow for enough spaces in suburban areas
This approach change the current parking standards, reflecting the shift towards restricting parking in the most sustainable and accessible locations, like town centres or near to transport hubs, but also recognising that additional parking may be needed in suburban locations; for example, where there is a risk that on-street parking might affect the ability of buses or bin lorries to move through developments.
It would also need more secure cycle parking space than is currently expected in new development proposals, to promote cycling and reduce travel by car.
Producing transport assessments, transport statements and travel plans
It is important that the safety of all users of the transport network; including pedestrians and cyclists, is protected and enhanced through planning decisions. Transport assessments, transport statements and travel plans provide established methods of looking at and addressing the impacts of developments on transport networks.
If assessments are poor or there are not enough, this can lead to impacts not being effectively addressed, as well as miss opportunities to improve access and safety for new and existing residents.
National planning policies make it clear that all developments that will generate significant amounts of movement must provide a travel plan, and that planning applications should be supported by a transport statement or transport assessment so that the likely impacts of the proposal can be looked at.
Transport assessments and travel plans should make sure that safe movement is not compromised and the impact of development on the network is thoroughly considered.
KCC think that the transport system should support an active and healthy community and make a significant improvement to air quality by encouraging active travel and sustainable transport.
Highways England say that the Local Plan should ask that all development proposals and their associated mitigation show that they are deliverable, funded, and suitably maintained.
Transport and congestion were some of the biggest issues raised through the consultation, and many people commented that traffic conditions need to be improved if the district is to accommodate more growth.
Although the overall strategy for addressing these issues is considered in the Growth Options section, it is clear that individual assessments need to look at and fully mitigate their own impacts to make sure that conditions don’t get worse.
Issue MT5. How should we produce transport assessments, transport statements and travel plans?
Option MT5A – continue with the current approach to transport assessments and travel plans
The current approach requires all transport assessments and travel plans on a case-by-case basis if we think a proposal will have significant transport implications.
Assessments should show how multimodal access options will be achieved and how transport infrastructure arising from the expected demand will be provided. Travel plans currently provide detailed information on how the mitigation will be implemented and focus on sustainable transport options.
Option MT5B – all major developments must submit transport assessments and travel plans
This approach would require all proposals for ‘major’ development – including proposals for 10 or more homes, more than 1,000sqm of floorspace or on sites of more than 0.5 hectares – to submit transport assessments and travel plans.
This would standardise the criteria for when assessments would be needed to improve coverage and consistency of the policy.
Option MT5C – (preferred option) all major developments must submit transport assessments and travel plans, with additional criteria to cover other types of development which could have significant impacts on the network, and all minor developments would have to submit transport statements
This approach would build on Option MT5B, making sure that all major developments completed the assessment and travel plan, but increasing the scope of the requirements to other types of development which might not be classified as major but could still have significant impacts on the transport network, including proposals which involve:
- new or altered access to the transport network
- improvement work to the transport network
- the creation of new transport infrastructure
- the generation of significant additional trips on the transport network
This option would also expand the current approach to require minor developments – including proposals between one and nine homes, less than 1,000sqm or on sites of less than 0.5 hectares – to submit a transport statement; a simplified version of a transport assessment, to show how sustainable transport opportunities have been incorporated into proposals.