Active Travel England set to become Statutory Planning Consultee from 1st June 2023
10 May 2023
In July 2020 the Government published ‘Gear Change: A bold vision for cycling and walking’. Within this paper the Government set out a clear vision for England’s Transport System:
“Places will be truly walkable. A travel revolution in our streets, towns and communities will have made cycling a mass form of transit. Cycling and walking will be the natural first choice for many journeys with half of all journeys in towns and cities being cycled or walked by 2030.”
The aim of this vision is to address some of the most challenging issues we face as a society – improving air quality, combatting climate change, improving health and wellbeing, addressing inequalities and tackling congestion on our roads.
To achieve this vision, the Government recognised that we need to ensure that active travel is embedded in wider policy making. In order to do this they have set up a new commissioning body and inspectorate called Active Travel England. Active Travel England’s role includes the following:
- Holding the budget for new schemes;
- Inspecting and approving schemes;
- Training, good practice and knowledge sharing;
- Inspecting highway authorities; and
- Reviewing major planning applications.
Which developments will be effected?
From 1st June 2023, Active Travel England will become a statutory consultee on all planning applications above certain thresholds. These thresholds are:
- 150 dwellings or more;
- Mixed-use or commercial developments with a floor space of 7,500sq.m or more; or
- Where the overall area of the development is 5 hectares or more.
The requirement for considering, integrating and prioritising walking and cycling needs as part of new development layouts and the local area will become more and more important in the coming years, as the government strives to achieve its net-zero targets by 2050.
Whilst Active Travel England will only be required to comment on developments meeting or exceeding the above thresholds, Local Highway Authorities are expected to put a greater emphasis on the prioritisation of active travel when commenting on all developments.
What will these changes mean for developers?
The upcoming change in legislation will mean that developers will need to ensure that their development prioritises Active Travel inside and out. Above all, developments will need to be planned and designed in accordance with the latest guidance documents, including LTN 1/20 (Cycle Infrastructure Design), which states that routes need to be:
- Comfortable; and
In addition to these 5 core design principles every scheme will need to be inclusive and accessible to all, particularly vulnerable road users, and receive support from the local community.
Active Travel England (ATE), as consultee, may ask for plans demonstrating how these core design principles will be achieved. For larger developments, a specialist Active Travel assessment document may also be requested, to explain to ATE how the development achieves these principles.
LTN 1/20 provides assessment tools in the form of the Cycling Level of Service (CLoS) and Junction Assessment Tool (JAT). These assessment tools, along with Active Travel Zone Assessments, Road Safety Audits and Access Audits may become standard requirements where walking and cycling infrastructure is being proposed.
At Patrick Parsons, we have undertaken dozens of Active Travel Zone Assessments for sites in London, as well as designing innovative walking and cycling routes across the country. These have included the design of priority cycle crossings and continuous crossings at junctions, including “Dutch style” crossings.
If you have any queries on the upcoming changes, or need assistance on future planning applications which may be affected, please get in touch.