Julie’s Review of the Revised National Planning Policy Framework

On the 24th July the Government published the revised National Planning Policy, the first revision since its introduction in 2012. As a result, social media has been filled with discussion on how this revision will affect green belt land, affordable housing and indeed the planning process, but how does this affect the Transport Planning industry and development? We have asked Principal Transport Planner Julie Jarvis to give us her thoughts on the revised transport chapter.

Although the chapter on transport in the revised National Planning Policy Framework still reads ‘Promoting Sustainable Transport’ there is a significant shift in emphasis in the consideration of transport issues in plan-making and development proposals.  The need to consider transport issues from the earliest stages is highlighted, not only to enable impacts on transport networks to be assessed but also to identify and pursue opportunities to promote walking, cycling and public transport use.  By taking this approach transport infrastructure and technologies are realised, environmental impacts can be identified, assessed and taken into account; and transport considerations are integral to the design of schemes, making high quality places. 

 The planning system and policies should be prepared so that strategies and investments for supporting sustainable transport and development patterns are aligned.  The revised framework puts an emphasis on the role of land use planning in reducing the need to travel and offering genuine choice of transport modes, which in turn can help to reduce congestion, emissions, improve air quality and public health.  Such a strategy links with larger allocations, internalisation of trips and hitting that crucial mass to deliver self-funding public transport. 

 When assessing development proposals, three principles are to be taken into account to ensure that; appropriate opportunities to promote sustainable transport modes can be (or have been) taken, given the type of development and its location; safe and suitable access to the site can be achieved for all users; and any significant impacts from development on the transport network (in terms of capacity and congestion), or on highway safety, can be cost effectively mitigated. 

The revised framework gives priority to non-car modes in terms of development layout and connectivity, providing a greater sense of place that is safe, secure and attractive for all.  It also encourages developments to provide for new technology necessitating infrastructure to enable vehicles to be charged in safe, accessible and convenient locations.    

Development can now be prevented or refused on highways grounds if there would be an unacceptable impact on highway safety as well as severe residual cumulative impacts on the road network.  

More guidance on setting parking standards is included in this revision.  Maximum parking standards should only be set where it is necessary to manage the local road network or for optimising the density of development in city and town centres and other location that are well served by public transport.   

The final paragraph of the new transport section reemphasises the same conclusions that developments which will generate significant amounts of movement should still be required to provide a Travel Plan and applications should be supported by a Transport Statement or Transport Assessment which was present in the previous NPPF and PPG13 before that.  

It appears that this revised NPPF is part of the evolving wider policy environment which has also seen the recent re-emergence of strategic transport planning and funding at a sub national level through bodies such as Transport for the South East. We will therefore be intrigued to see how this new guidance impacts at a local level, where the integration of land use, economic and transport planning which improve transport, tackle congestion and reduce traffic impacts on communities are strategic priorities for many local highway authorities.    

If you have any queries about this please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Julie who would be glad to assist.