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Structure Plan - Panel Report
CHAPTER 7 ACCESSIBILITY AND TRANSPORT
7.1 The Accessibility and Transport Chapter of the Structure Plan focuses on how the planning system can, in conjunction with the Local Transport Plans (LTPs), help to provide development that is more sustainable. The main focus of the discussion at the EIP was therefore whether the Structure Plan's policies provided an adequate framework for the development of a more sustainable transport system to support the overall objectives of the Plan. Part of the discussion focussed upon policies on parking provision, including whether those policies helped strike the right balance between encouraging modal shift and supporting the vitality and viability of centres.
7.2 PPG13 states that transport and planning should be integrated to promote more sustainable transport choices, promote accessibility and reduce the need to travel, especially by private car. The PPG also emphasises that it is essential that the development plan and local transport plans are complementary. The desirability of close linkages between development plan allocations and local transport priorities and investment is also mentioned. This guidance is relevant to our consideration later in this Chapter as to which transport schemes should be referred to in the Structure Plan.
7.3 Some EIP participants considered that the Structure Plan fell somewhat short in providing adequate support for the above objectives. Reference was made to the need to consider transport nodes in transport choice corridors, and related to that matter, to the need for a clearer link between the transport strategy and the sequential approach to new development in Strategy Policy 3A. Concerns were also raised about priorities, particularly in relation to walking, cycling and public transport, together with the extent to which the Structure Plan should go beyond being just a means of safeguarding land for transport projects to having a promotional role.
7.4 We would have expected the relevant overarching policy from which the Accessibility and Transport policies should derive to have been Strategy Policy 5 'Development and the Transport System'. We find however that this policy is focussed on requiring developers to provide appropriate access and traffic conditions in the context of new development. Whilst we see a role for such a measure we are not convinced that it provides the necessary strategic overview for Accessibility and Transport policies that a Strategy Policy should have.
7.5 On the other hand, we do find that Accessibility and Transport Policy 1 'Priorities' provides more of a strategic steer for the rest of the policies in the chapter. We therefore consider that the general provisions of Accessibility and Transport Policy 1 should be transferred to Strategy Policy 5, and those of the latter policy to the Accessibility and Transport Chapter of the Plan.
7.6 The Accessibility and Transport Chapter appears to give priority to the activities of walking and cycling above the provision of public transport. The Structure Plan Authorities justified this by stating that walking and cycling are the most sustainable and cost effective transport modes. The Panel believes that this misrepresents current government policy. Although walking and cycling may be the more sustainable and cost effective means of travel, PPG13 does not prioritise in this manner between alternatives to the use of the private car.
7.7 Paragraph 75 of PPG13 states that walking is the most important mode of travel at the local level. Paragraph 78 then refers to the potential of cycling to act as a substitute for short car journeys. Beyond these distances, another alternative to the use of the car is required, and this is the role that public transport can fulfil. The Structure Plan should therefore make it clear that walking, cycling and public transport are all modes of travel that can contribute to achieving the important objective of reducing the use of the private car.
7.8 The Panel was made aware of actual and proposed expenditure levels for walking and cycling, compared to public transport. Whilst satisfied that the role of effective public transport is not underplayed in the Structure Plan, we do not see the need for prioritisation to be expressed in such a way as to suggest that public transport is less important than walking and cycling in sustainability terms. We therefore recommend an adjustment to Accessibility and Transport Policy 1 to accompany the transfer of that policy to replace Strategy Policy 5.
7.9 We address the issues of transport corridors in Chapter 2 of this report. As for transport nodes, paragraphs 47 and 48 of PPG3 direct larger housing developments to locations around major transport nodes along good quality transport corridors. The Panel considers that the manner in which the sequential approach is structured in new Strategy Policy 3A introduced as part of the pre-EIP changes is not inconsistent with that guidance. Settlements identified in Strategy Policy 3A and their position within the search sequence recognise their function as public transport nodes. We have, moreover, recommended the addition of a clause in Strategy Policy 3B recognising the potential for development at transport nodes within good transport corridors, as a factor to be taken into account in selecting sites for development within the sequential approach.
7.10 The Panel raised the issue of travel plans and the apparent lack of emphasis given to them in the text of the Structure Plan. We accept that the term ‘travel demand management measures’ in Accessibility and Transport Policy 1 (which we recommend in an amended form as Strategy Policy 5) can be taken as including the use of company and other travel plans. However we consider that this should be made clear within the explanatory memorandum. The use of travel plans could also be referred to in the replacement Accessibility and Transport Policy 1 and we have incorporated such a reference in our proposed rewording of the policy in the Panel Recommendations at the end of this chapter.
7.11 Accessibility and Transport Policy 3 addresses the need for cycle routes, particularly in relation to new development. The Panel’s attention was drawn by the Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC) to recent research that identified safety issues associated with dedicated cycle lanes where there may be a potential conflict with other modes of transport. The CTC suggested that paragraph 5.16 of the explanatory memorandum should be amended to reflect this concern, and we have no objection to such a reference.
7.12. It was also put to us that the policy should promote cycle parking in circumstances wider than those covered by development control powers. However, we see such an objective being mainly achieved through local initiatives. We therefore consider that this matter would be more appropriately provided for in local plans and through local projects, rather than by reference in a Structure Plan policy.
7.13 Accessibility and Transport Policy 4 highlights the importance of access to bus services for new development. The requirements of the policy relate to all forms of development, but the explanatory memorandum states that it will not be rigidly applied to all development proposals. Criterion (a) defines an average (200 metres) and maximum (400 metres) walking distance from a bus stop as the standard against which development proposals will be judged.
7.14 Several participants highlighted the overly complicated calculation this implies, with no guidance on the process by which the average distance may be established. Some drew attention to the difficulties this may cause in the design of housing layouts. A suggested solution was for the policy to solely require a maximum walking distance of 400m.
7.15 Paragraph 3.7 of PPG12 states that Structure Plans should not include detailed development control policies. In our opinion, criterion (a) incorporates a level of detail that is generally inappropriate for a Structure Plan. The role of Accessibility and Transport Policy 4 in this respect is to establish the importance of the principle of accessibility to bus routes for new development. This then sets the strategic planning framework for the local planning authorities to provide more detailed guidance.
7.16 We accept that there is an argument about the need to maintain consistency throughout the Plan area in terms of the setting of standards. However, we do not consider that this outweighs the point we are making. We therefore recommend an amendment to the policy. We would have no objection to a reference to standards in the explanatory memorandum, which could then be used as guidance by local planning authorities. In that context, we consider the use of maximum walking distances to be more easily understood and monitored than the use of average walking distances, or both.
7.17 Other participants considered that Accessibility and Transport Policy 4 should not apply to all developments. The Structure Plan Authorities drew the EIP’s attention to paragraph 5.24 of the explanatory memorandum, which aims to give the required flexibility on the policy’s suitability regarding different types of development. This flexibility is further aided by the amendment we recommend.
General Background to Transport Schemes
7.18 PPG12 indicates that Structure Plans should refer to the provision of strategic transport facilities including highways, railways and other infrastructure requirements. PPG13 confirms local authorities' obligations to ensure that the strategies in the development plan and local transport plan (LTP) complement each other, and that development plan allocations and local transport investment and priorities are closely linked. Development plans can protect sites and routes that could be critical in developing infrastructure to widen transport choices.
7.19 Paragraph 5.15 of PPG12 makes it clear that a specific transport proposal that directly involves the development or use of land should appear as a policy or proposal in the appropriate development plan. The PPG lists LTP issues with possible land use implications. Paragraph 5.17 advises authorities only to include proposals in development plans that are firm, with a reasonable degree of certainty of proceeding within the plan period, and identified as such in the LTP. Paragraph 5.20 further states that transport proposals of strategic significance that have not been considered in the context of the regional transport strategy will need to be specified in structure plans and UDPs, with the assessment of alternative options being examined at the EIP or public inquiry.
7.20 It is against this background that the Panel has examined the policies which relate to the schemes that the Structure Plan Authorities and EIP participants consider should be included in the Structure Plan or explanatory memorandum.
Development of Rail Passenger Services
7.21 Accessibility and Transport Policy 5 safeguards land for railway stations or infrastructure, a function that is largely duplicated in Accessibility and Transport Policy 11. Although the Structure Plan Authorities stated that Policy 11 deals with new routes and Policy 5 with existing routes, the Panel sees no reason why the general safeguarding function should not be combined in a single policy.
7.22 Such an approach raises the issue of the purpose of Accessibility and Transport Policy 5. We note that the associated part of the explanatory memorandum makes reference to the projected Ivanhoe Stage II Line and also to additional stations on the Leicester to Birmingham line and elsewhere within the Structure Plan area. We consider that the policy can retain a role, more positive than the safeguarding function, to promote station and infrastructure development for local rail passenger services, and to deal with any related land use issues. However, it is first necessary to consider the potential schemes that might justify inclusion in the Structure Plan.
The Ivanhoe Rail Line
7.23 Completion of Stage II of this established project would restore passenger rail services between Leicester and Burton-on-Trent on an existing freight line through the former Leicestershire and South Derbyshire coalfield area, to serve existing settlements including Coalville and Ashby de la Zouch. The explanatory memorandum explains that the scheme requires funding from Central Government, an achievement not considered to be in prospect owing to present costing structures not presenting value for money compared with bus-based alternatives. The rail project was a feature of the adopted Structure Plan within a transport choice corridor. However, such a concept has not been continued in the replacement Draft Deposit Structure Plan.
7.24 The Leicestershire and Central Leicestershire LTPs confirm that Leicestershire County Council and Leicester City Council have decided not to submit any bid for funding under the Rail Passenger Partnership Fund for the Ivanhoe Line, but to consider bus-based alternatives in the short term. However, the County Council is to use 'its utmost endeavours' in negotiating with the Strategic Rail Authority and other appropriate bodies to seek a way forward to progress Ivanhoe Stage II.
7.25 It was put to us by developers that the capital infrastructure associated with the Ivanhoe passenger rail route scheme could be partially funded as a development benefit from two planned schemes for residential and other development at Newtown Unthank (Desford) and Ashby de la Zouch. The Panel accepts that there is no objection in principle to transport infrastructure being funded as part of a substantial planned development proposal. Indeed, were the development otherwise acceptable in planning terms, such benefits might be sought by the local planning authority through an obligation under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. That situation could arise from significant greenfield development which falls within the terms of Strategy Policy 4.
7.26 However, we do not consider that in strategic terms the developments proposed could be justified solely or even mainly by the advantages accruing from the proposed transport investment, however remote the possibility of the rail infrastructure being provided for by other means may be argued to be at present. Whilst the district housing allocations we recommend for North West Leicestershire and Hinckley and Bosworth may require consideration to be given to greenfield land, we do not express any view about the appropriateness or otherwise of the schemes in the locations proposed. This is a local plan or development control matter. We would except any scheme to be considered under the provisions of Strategy Policies 3A and 3B.
7.27 Those who presented this development-led approach to securing investment in the Ivanhoe line put it to us that if we did not feel that their approach could be reflected in the Structure Plan, then there was no justification for retaining the Ivanhoe project as a Structure Plan proposal in circumstances in which there was no assurance of its implementation. We accept that it is debatable whether the Ivanhoe proposal could be truly regarded as firm at the present time. We note that there are issues associated with the revenue side of the project, and with signalling in Leicester that would make it unlikely that the scheme could be progressed until 2006/2007.
7.28 However, the Structure Plan Authorities have expressed optimism that other means of funding the Ivanhoe Line can be found within the lifetime of the Plan, and that such an outcome is not solely dependent on developer contributions. We therefore consider that it should continue to be a positive feature of the Structure Plan and retained in the Plan for continuity reasons. Our recommendation on Accessibility and Transport Policy 5 is consistent with that approach.
New Railway Stations
7.29 We were requested to consider whether reference should be made in the Structure Plan or explanatory memorandum to the potential for new railway stations on the Leicester to Birmingham rail line, such as at Croft and Elmesthorpe, and at Thurmaston on the Ivanhoe Stage I line. The Structure Plan authorities responded that a review of rail services had identified operational or technical difficulties associated with new stations at Croft and Elmesthorpe. We note that neither proposal is included in the Leicestershire LTP, although there is reference in that LTP, and in the Central Leicestershire LTP, to a new station at Blaby, with an additional reference in the latter to 'a limited number of new stations' (presumably within the Central Leicestershire LTP area, which includes Croft). However, in the absence of any more specific references we see no justification for reference to Croft or Elmesthorpe in Accessibility and Transport Policy 5 or elsewhere in the Structure Plan.
7.30 The Structure Plan Authorities expressed the view that because Thurmaston was close to the Leicester City Centre, a better way of improving public transport in this area would be by the use of buses. There is no reference to a station at Thurmaston in the Central Leicestershire LTP. We therefore see no justification for a reference to Thurmaston in Accessibility and Transport Policy 5, or elsewhere in the Plan.
7.31 As well as Blaby, proposed railway stations at Kibworth, East Goscote and Ketton are referred to in the relevant LTP and in the explanatory memorandum of the Structure Plan. We therefore recommend that they all be included in Accessibility and Transport Policy 5.
7.32 A pre-EIP change to Accessibility and Transport Policy 6 introduced the desirability of transferring freight to waterways, in addition to rail. English Nature were concerned that the revised policy pays insufficient attention to the harm that the more intensive use of canals can inflict on the range and diversity of plant species adjoining the canal, particularly where SSSIs have been designated.
7.33 The Panel accepts this point, and considers that this may be addressed by including in the policy a criterion requiring the biodiversity of waterways to be taken into account when consideration is being given to developments with potential to be served by those waterways, particularly where SSSIs have been designated. We also propose a number of other small changes that we consider would further improve the revised policy.
7.34 Accessibility and Transport Policy 7 on parking standards is an important part of the overall strategy of sustainable development. The benefits of the use of maximum parking standards are outlined in paragraph 52 of PPG13 and include a reduction in land take and the promotion of sustainable transport choices.
7.35 The Structure Plan Authorities accepted at the EIP that the policy required modification to bring it into accord with recently published national and emerging regional policy guidance. The Authorities also stated that local planning authorities should set their own standards within the context of RPG and PPG13 guidance. An alternative form of wording for the policy has been put forward by the Structure Plan Authorities to reflect these points.
7.36 Paragraph 53 and Annex D of PPG13 set out maximum parking standards in relation to development above defined thresholds. Both the Deposit Draft version of Accessibility and Transport Policy 7 and its suggested revision may be read as if they relate to all sizes of development. The Panel feels that this is inappropriate, and further amendment should be made to confirm that this is not the intention. The policy also states that parking provision should not exceed the stated maximum standard. Such a statement is self-evident and should, instead, be replaced by a clause explaining the limited circumstances in which it might be appropriate for the maximum standard to be exceeded, following the guidance in paragraph 54 of PPG13.
7.37 The proposed revised policy states that parking below the maximum will be encouraged in particular local circumstances. In the light of the change in current national guidance towards lower parking standards we see the words 'in particular local circumstances' as unnecessary. The circumstances in which standards lower than the maximum are likely to cause local difficulties are set out in the policy. We note that reference to commuted sums is to be deleted from the policy, thus removing any conflict with paragraph 86 of PPG13.
7.38 Several participants expressed concern about the application of Accessibility and Transport Policy 7 to residential development. Paragraph 5.37 of the explanatory memorandum states that the standards referred to may be applied to residential developments to assist in reducing land take. Paragraph 5.39 refers to the possibility of high maximum standards being needed to overcome problems associated with on street parking. In our view, this supporting guidance could cause confusion and contention. Paragraph 62 of PPG3 merely states that residential developments with, on average, more than 1.5 car spaces per dwelling are unlikely to reflect the Government’s emphasis on securing sustainable residential environments. The PPG also emphasises that policies allowing higher levels of off-street parking, especially in urban areas, should not be adopted. Any guidance in the explanatory memorandum should in our view follow this approach more clearly than appears to be the case with the present text.
Public Car Parks
7.39 Accessibility and Transport Policy 8 limits new public car parks to locations where such developments would mitigate harmful effects on the vitality and viability of city, town district or local centres, or highway safety or visual amenity. The need to safeguard the vitality and viability of centres is recognised in paragraph 51 of PPG13. The Structure Plan Authorities propose to broaden the reference in the policy to visual amenity, by omitting the word 'visual’. We agree that this would enable other matters such as air pollution to be taken into account to determine whether new freestanding public parking proposals are justified.
7.40 Accessibility and Transport Policy 10 applies limiting criteria to the construction of bypasses and other new roads, except for those required in the context of new development. The policy also provides criteria for road improvements and traffic management schemes. Charnwood Borough Council considered that the policy placed an undue emphasis on road-based solutions, and that it should better reflect Policy 88 of Draft RPG. That policy states that feasible alternatives to road investment should be explored first. 7.41 The Structure Plan Authorities maintained that the priorities in Accessibility and Transport Policy 10 do follow the approach of Policy 88. We agree, but consider that Charnwood Borough Council's suggested amendment of a reference to a road scheme being justified as part of an integrated and sustainable transport solution should be incorporated into the Policy.
7.41 The Structure Plan Authorities propose to delete the reference to schemes 'not required to allow new development to proceed'. That change is to address participant concern that development-related schemes should not be subject to different controls. We accept this and incorporate it into our recommended rewording of the policy.
7.42 Several participants argued that Accessibility and Transport Policy 10 should include reference to individual road schemes within the body of the policy, rather than their being referred to only in the explanatory memorandum. The Structure Plan Authorities maintained that due to the changeable nature of funding for schemes, it would make little sense to include schemes within the policy, when they might be deleted during the Plan period. Whilst we can see some merit in that argument, we feel that it does not outweigh the guidance referred to in paragraphs 7.18 and 7.19 above that such schemes should be in development plans (in the case of a Structure Plan, within the plan's policies), if they involve the development or use of land.
7.43 We therefore conclude that the A511 (A50) Ashby Bypass Stage 2, the A47 Earl Shilton Bypass and the completion of the A606 Oakham-Langham Bypass should be referred to in Accessibility and Transport Policy 10. We also recommend that a scheme mentioned in the Structure Plan Authorities' EIP statement, the A607 Rearsby Bypass, be also referred to in the policy. All 4 schemes are the subject of firm proposals in the relevant LTPs.
7.44 The A6 Kibworth Bypass does not in our view merit the same treatment. It is not a firm proposal, and is not mentioned as a proposal in the Central Leicestershire LTP, even if the Structure Plan Authorities are confident that the scheme will proceed in the lifetime of the Structure Plan. The case for the Bypass was not debated at the EIP. The Structure Plan Authorities will be able to review the position when they consider modifications to the Structure Plan, in the light of any relevant changes in circumstances. Reference could be made to the Kibworth Bypass for safeguarding purposes, in that part of the explanatory memorandum that supports Accessibility and Transport Policy 11. We were requested also to consider the following scheme under Accessibility and Transport Policy 10.
Loughborough Inner Relief Road
7.45 The benefits of the Loughborough Inner Relief Road (LIRR) are described in the Leicestershire LTP, including eliminating the severance and conflict that exists between the high volume of traffic and pedestrian crossing movements. The LTP elsewhere draws attention to the significance of and need to encourage pedestrian travel within the town owing to its relative compactness. The LIRR was supported in the Charnwood Local Plan Inspector’s Report. It is expected that it will be implemented within the lifetime of the LTP.
7.46 The LIRR is referred to in paragraph 5.60 of the explanatory memorandum in terms of land being safeguarded for its implementation, but not in paragraph 5.52, which refers to new roads costing over £5 million. The Structure Plan Authorities confirmed that the capital cost of the LIRR would be less than the £5m considered to qualify schemes for strategic status. The Panel considers that despite this, the LIRR should be regarded as a scheme of strategic significance, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it would reflect the emphasis being given to Loughborough at regional and Structure Plan level as a focus for development, despite its location outside the CLPA. Secondly, given the circumstances described in the preceding paragraph the LIRR can be seen to be consistent with, and a good example of practice supporting the emphasis given to improving conditions for pedestrians in Accessibility and Transport Policy 1.
7.47 The Panel therefore recommends that the LIRR be referred to in Accessibility and Transport Policy 10. The 'terms of reference' of paragraph 5.52 of the explanatory memorandum, that is, the qualifying reference to schemes costing over £5 million, would need to be changed.
Safeguarding of Transport Routes
7.48 The Panel has already concluded, in paragraph 7.21 above, that Accessibility and Transport Policy 11 should act as a safeguarding provision for all transport routes, including the Ivanhoe Line referred to in Accessibility and Transport Policy 5 and the strategic road schemes to be specified in Accessibility and Transport Policy 10. That indeed would be the sole function of Policy 11. Schemes are identified in the explanatory memorandum following the policy. We consider that the land reserved for routes should be identified in local plans. We therefore see no need for the Policy 11 schemes to be named in the policy itself. Reference in the explanatory memorandum is acceptable, but they should be schemes that are proposed in LTPs and have a prospect of being implemented within the lifetime of the Structure Plan. It is against this background that we have reached conclusions on the following schemes that we were asked to consider at the EIP.
7.49 The Caldecott Parish Council presented evidence to the EIP to support their case that a bypass for their village would bring distinct benefits for its residents. Whatever the merits of the case for the Bypass, the issue before the Panel is whether such a scheme should be mentioned in the Structure Plan or its explanatory memorandum. As already indicated, the Structure Plan Authorities have used a capital cost of £5 million as a benchmark to determine whether a road scheme can be regarded as strategic or not. However they conceded that other factors such as the function of the facility might be taken into account. The Parish Council referred to Caldecott as being at the ‘gateway’ of the Structure Plan Area.
7.50 The Rutland LTP refers to the scheme as one of a number of rural bypasses which are unlikely to cost more than £5 million and which would have to be subject to further studies to determine their viability. The Caldecott Bypass has not therefore been progressed as part of the LTP, although some of the bypasses mentioned may feature in a later LTP. Reference to this scheme in the Structure Plan at the present time would therefore be contrary to national planning guidance in paragraph 5.17 of PPG12, and we can see no present justification for a reference to it being included in the explanatory memorandum. This situation could be reviewed when the Structure Plan is updated and rolled forward.
Leicester Eastern District Distributor Road
7.51 It was put to us that the Leicester Eastern District Distributor Road (EDDR) would relieve residential parts of East Leicester by reducing 'rat runs', particularly given the proposed development at Hamilton. The Oadby and Wigston Borough Council referred to this as an 'environmental imperative'. The Panel notes however, that there is no reference to the EDDR in the statement by the Borough Council appended to the Central Leicestershire LTP.
7.52 We were informed that the concept of the EDDR is opposed by others. The EDDR is not a scheme proposed in the LTP. The Structure Plan Authorities expressed the view that the EDDR would have significant environmental impacts. We note that transport policy has undergone considerable change since the 1980s when a predecessor EIP Panel commended its early implementation.
7.53 The supporters of the EDDR consider that it should be 'upgraded' from a route referred to in paragraph 5.60 of the explanatory memorandum to be safeguarded under Accessibility and Transport Policy 11, to a proposal that should be constructed within the Structure Plan period. The Authorities agree that the case for EDDR should be further reviewed, but in the next LTP period. Under these circumstances the Panel considers that reference to the EDDR in the Structure Plan, in any context other than the safeguarding of land, would be inappropriate and contrary to paragraph 5.17 of PPG12.
The Melton Mowbray Southern and Western Bypass
7.54 The explanatory memorandum (paragraph 5.53) and the Leicestershire LTP anticipate that this road will be built during the lifetime of the Structure Plan at developers' expense in connection with a proposed mixed use development on the former Melton Airfield. This new 'village' is a proposal of the Local Plan, which however, was adopted before the most recent revision of PPG3. There was some support for the Bypass in its own right, but opposition from the Melton Mowbray & District Civic Society who maintained that traffic management schemes in Melton town centre could go some way to alleviating the urban traffic and congestion difficulties that a bypass was intended to mitigate.
7.55 As we have made clear in Chapter 4, it is not for us, nor the Structure Plan, to anticipate the outcome of the development process in relation to the Airfield scheme, which we understand is the subject of a holding direction by the Secretary of State. Nor would we wish to express a view that the justification for the Bypass rests upon the implementation of the development scheme. However, we would go so far as to conclude that some loss of justification for the Bypass would occur if the development scheme did not go ahead.
7.56 We consider that in such circumstances, the explanatory memorandum of the Structure Plan should make no more extensive or focussed reference to the Bypass than it does in the Deposit Draft version. Indeed, we consider it prudent for paragraph 5.53 of the explanatory memorandum not to assume that the scheme is necessarily going ahead.
Roadworks associated with the M1
7.57 The Panel has no objection to the explanatory memorandum referring to roadworks associated with the M1, as requested by the Government Office for the East Midlands. Any reference must clearly be subject to the caveat that the need for and the form and extent of such works is subject to the outcome of the multi-modal study of the north/south movements in the East Midlands.
Relationship between Leicester Bus and Rail Stations
7.58 Transport 2000 requested that reference should be made in the Structure Plan to the need and any proposals for the closer integration of the Leicester Bus and Rail Stations. We note that the matter is covered implicitly by the reference in Accessibility and Transport Policy 4 to improved bus terminals and in the criteria in the second part of Accessibility and Transport Policy 10 which provide for better operating conditions for public transport. We agree that there is some merit in making a specific reference to the integration of bus and rail facilities and services in Leicester City Centre in the explanatory memorandum. The Central Leicestershire LTP refers to measures in the CALTRANS Draft Transport Strategy for improving public transport accessibility in the City Centre. Detailed references or proposals would be a matter for the review of the Leicester Local Plan.
Leicester West Transport Scheme
7.59 Concern was raised about the intention of the Structure Plan Authorities to introduce into the explanatory memorandum references to a number of additional schemes, including park and ride proposals at Leicester West, which it was claimed had not been subject to public consultation procedures. The Structure Plan Authorities referred to the support given to park and ride schemes by Accessibility and Transport Policy 9.
7.60 It is not altogether clear whether that policy is intended to refer to provision for park and ride facilities being made in local plans, or by development proposals submitted as applications, or both. In the Panel's view, such provision should preferably be made through the development plan process. In either event, there would be an opportunity for representations to be made by interested persons. A reference to the schemes for Leicester West in the explanatory memorandum would not in the Panel's view prejudice that process.
Road Related Service Facilities
7.61 Accessibility and Transport Policy 12 limits road related service facilities to those necessary to achieve an appropriate level of provision at selected key sites which minimise the impact on the environment and local amenity. The Structure Plan Authorities have stated that the explanatory memorandum will give further guidance on the location and frequency of road related service facilities. The Panel accepts that this is appropriate.
Airports and General Aviation
7.62 Accessibility and Transport Policy 13 provides for development necessary to satisfy the operational needs of East Midlands Airport, subject to balancing the benefits of such development against any environmental disbenefits that may be caused. The policy also seeks to prevent the establishment or physical expansion of other commercial airports. Development associated with General Aviation is to be judged on its local environmental impact.
7.63 It was put to us that Accessibility and Transport Policy 13 is too restrictive on General Aviation development, with an emphasis on the environmental impact of development without account of the likely economic benefits, a consideration of balance referred to in Annex B to PPG13. The Panel considers that the policy should better reflect this balance. Furthermore, the term ‘operational needs’ should be defined in the explanatory memorandum, consistent with the definition in that Annex.
7.64 We were informed that the proposed parkway station at Ratcliffe-on-Soar should be open by summer 2002 and that this will be linked to the East Midlands Airport by a shuttle bus with a 15-minute frequency. A multi-modal study, the tasks of which will include review of surface access arrangements for the Airport, will report in Spring 2002. We note that some emphasis is given to the importance of proper planning for surface access routes for airports in paragraphs 6 and 8 of Annex B to PPG13. The Panel therefore considers that the subject of surface access to the Airport should be included within the body of the policy.
7.65 As for the policy's restrictive approach towards other commercial airports in the plan area, the Panel is unclear as to what is meant by the term 'commercial airports', particularly as the following part of the policy relates to General Aviation, which includes small-scale business flying. It would appear, therefore, as if an element of commercial airport activity might be found at locations considered to be serving General Aviation.
7.66 In any event, we feel that it is inappropriate to rule out any development without justification. The Panel does not consider that the establishment or expansion of commercial airports will necessarily harm interests of acknowledged importance and it is not in our view the role of the Structure Plan to inhibit competition per se. We therefore consider that the reference to commercial airports should be deleted.
7.67 That Strategy Policy 5 be deleted and replaced by the following:
STRATEGY POLICY 5: TRANSPORT OBJECTIVES AND PRIORITIES
Integrated and sustainable travel and transport provision will be made in order to:
a) improve road safety and the environment and contribute to improving the quality of life;
b) minimise the need to travel;
c) maximise people's accessibility to facilities, services, opportunities and resources; and
d) support the local economy.
Provision for and the promotion of walking, cycling and public transport will generally be given greater priority than provision for private transport.
Travel demand management measures will be introduced wherever appropriate in order to help meet the objectives of this policy.
7.68 That the explanatory memorandum to Strategy Policy 5 should clarify the scope of travel demand management measures, including the use of company and other travel plans.
7.69 That Accessibility and Transport Policy 1 be deleted and replaced by the following:
ACCESSIBILITY AND TRANSPORT POLICY 1: DEVELOPMENT AND THE TRANSPORT SYSTEM
Developers will be expected to maximise the potential for access to and from new development by walking, cycling and public transport, and to take other appropriate measures to minimise the traffic generated by that development, including the formulation and implementation of travel plans. If, despite the above measures, the remaining traffic generated by the development, together with that from existing and committed development would:
a) impair road safety;
b) have an unacceptable effect on the environment; or
c) exceed the capacity available in the local highway system,
further adequate and environmentally acceptable road improvements should be undertaken, at the developer's expense, to mitigate the impact of the development.
7.70 That paragraph 5.16 of the explanatory memorandum be amended to make reference to the location and design of dedicated cycle lanes taking into account any potential for conflict with other modes of travel.
7.71 That Accessibility and Transport Policy 4 be amended to read as follows:
ACCESSIBILITY AND TRANSPORT POLICY 4: BUSES
New development should generally be located within convenient walking distance of a bus stop or terminus, complying with standards for maximum walking distances laid down in local plans.
When identifying new sites for development, the location should be such that it will support commercially operated bus services of an adequate frequency to provide a realistic alternative to the private car.
Measures will be taken, in partnership with the bus companies, to assist the efficiency and quality of the bus services by investment in bus priorities, information systems and improved bus terminals and stops.
7.72 That Accessibility and Transport Policy 5 be amended to read as follows:
ACCESSIBILITY AND TRANSPORT POLICY 5: DEVELOPMENT OF RAIL PASSENGER SERVICES
Support will be given in local plans, through the allocation of land and the resolution of related land use issues, to the promotion of the following rail projects or infrastructure improvements:
i) The Ivanhoe Rail Line Stage II ;
ii) New stations at Kibworth, Blaby, East Goscote and Ketton;
iii) Where relevant, other service and infrastructure proposals.
7.73 That Accessibility and Transport Policy 6 be amended to read as follows:
ACCESSIBILITY AND TRANSPORT POLICY 6: FREIGHT
The potential of rail or waterway connections will be fully explored for any development which generates significant freight movements. If rail or waterway movements are not possible, provision for this development should be made in locations where access to the principal road network is via roads suitable to take the predicted heavy goods vehicle traffic.
Land with potential for rail or waterway freight connections should be identified in local plans and protected from other development. Development will only be permitted if the development or associated activities do not have an unacceptable effect on:
a) residential amenity;
b) the general appearance and character of the countryside and the biodiversity of the waterway corridor, particularly where a Site of Special Scientific Interest has been designated.
c) Rail or waterway based proposals that do not satisfy the above criteria may be permitted if there is an overriding sustainability benefit, provided that the main justification for the development is the need for rail or waterway access for the movement of goods or raw materials.
7.74 That Accessibility and Transport Policy 7 be amended to read as follows:
ACCESSIBILITY AND TRANSPORT POLICY 7: PARKING PROVISION IN NEW DEVELOPMENT
Maximum standards for car parking relating to developments above defined threshold sizes will be specified that accord with the circumstances and declared objectives of local plan areas.
Parking provision above the maximum will only be permitted where the applicant can demonstrate by a Transport Assessment or other appropriate evidence that a higher level of parking is needed. Sufficient secure cycle and motorcycle parking will be required to accommodate the anticipated demand, including modal split targets, where appropriate.
7.75 That paragraphs 5.37 and 5.39 of the explanatory memorandum be redrafted to better reflect PPG3 guidance on car parking provision for new residential development.
7.76 That Accessibility and Transport Policy 8 be amended by the omission of the word 'visual' in criterion (b).
7.77 That Accessibility and Transport Policy 10 be amended to read as follows:
ACCESSIBILITY AND TRANSPORT POLICY 10: NEW ROADS, ROAD IMPROVEMENTS & TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT
Where justified as part of an integrated and sustainable transport solution, bypasses and other new roads will be constructed where the environmental and road safety benefits to the locality bypassed exceed the environmental disbenefits of road construction to a degree which justifies the investment. Alterations to existing roads and traffic management schemes will be carried out to:
a) improve the local environment;
b) encourage walking and cycling;
c) provide better operating conditions for public transport; and
d) improve road safety.
The following road schemes will be implemented during the Plan period:
i) A511 (A50) Ashby Bypass Stage 2;
ii) A47 Earl Shilton Bypass;
iii) A606 Oakham-Langham Bypass (completion);
iv) A607 Rearsby Bypass; and
v) A6 Loughborough Inner Relief Road.
7.78 That the terms of reference of paragraph 5.52 of the explanatory memorandum in relation to schemes costing over £5 million be amended accordingly.
7.79 That Accessibility and Transport Policy 11 be amended by the insertion of the words 'in local plans' after 'identified' in the first sentence of the policy.
7.80 That no reference be made to the following in the Structure Plan or explanatory memorandum:
i) a bypass for Caldecott, and
ii) the potential for new rail stations at Croft, Elmesthorpe and Thurmaston.
7.81 That in relation to the Melton Mowbray Southern and Western Bypass, paragraph 5.53 of the explanatory memorandum be amended to make it clear that the implementation of the road with funding associated with the development project at the former Melton Airfield is dependent upon the grant of planning permission for that project.
7.82 That reference be made in the explanatory memorandum to possible alterations to the M1, subject to the outcome of the multi-modal study of north/south movements in the East Midlands.
7.83 That consideration be given to an appropriate reference in the explanatory memorandum to the integration of bus and rail services and facilities in the Leicester City Centre.
7.84 That the transport schemes mentioned in paragraph 3.42 of the Structure Plan Authorities' Written Statement to Matter 7 be added to that part of the explanatory memorandum supporting Accessibility and Transport Policy 11, provided that such schemes comply with the guidance in paragraph 5.17 of PPG12.
7.85 That the explanatory memorandum supporting Accessibility and Transport Policy 12 be amended to give further guidance on the location and frequency of road related service facilities.
7.86 That Accessibility and Transport Policy 13 be amended to read as follows:
ACCESSIBILITY AND TRANSPORT POLICY 13: AIRPORTS AND GENERAL AVIATION
Provision will be made for the operational needs of the East Midlands Airport and for improved surface access to the Airport, subject to an evaluation of the potential benefits of any such development to the Leicestershire and East Midlands economy against the environmental harm associated with the expansion of air transport.The potential economic and other benefits of proposals for expanded facilities for General Aviation, including leisure and small scale business flying, will be balanced against the likely impact on the local environment of any proposals, including in particular, aircraft noise, access traffic and visual intrusion.
7.87 That the explanatory memorandum to Accessibility and Transport Policy 13 should include an explanation of the term ‘operational needs’, consistent with the definition in PPG13, Annex B.
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