Cheltenham Plan Pre-Submission consultation

Pre-Submission Cheltenham Plan

15 Transport Network

CONTEXT

15.1 Transport is fundamental to delivering change and helping develop the framework for place shaping. There are a number of significant projects currently moving forward which offer opportunities for strategic-level thinking on transport. These include the delivery of two strategic allocations at West and North West Cheltenham including a 45ha cyber park, developing a vision for the town centre, and delivery of Phases 3 and 4 of the Cheltenham Transport Plan. However, it is also important to look at the function of our neighbourhoods and understand how to develop a clear strategy of connectivity which offers real options in terms of transport type.

15.2 Generally the best-to-worst modes of transport for the environment are as follows:

  • walking and cycling
  • ultra-low emission vehicles
  • buses and trains (depending on fuel)
  • motorcycles
  • shared cars
  • single-occupant cars

15.3 To reduce emissions from transport, people need to either travel less, or change from modes towards the bottom of this list to modes higher up. Cheltenham is a well-contained borough with high levels of self-containment (number of people who both live and work in the town). Together with being relatively flat, this offers real opportunities to significantly increase the propensity to choose transport modes other than the private car. With walking, cycling and public transport, a barrier is connectivity to infrastructure e.g. train station, key employment areas, schools and retail areas, and between neighbourhoods.

15.4 The County Council manages and maintains the local road network, supports non-commercial passenger transport services, and promotes safe and sustainable travel. The County Council is also responsible for the preparation of the Local Transport Plan (LTP) which represents the key strategy for the delivery of essential transport infrastructure to support the delivery of growth identified in the Joint Core Strategy (JCS).

15.5 Policy INF1 of the JCS sets out transport-related requirements and expectations for development in the borough. Of particular note is Part One of INF1 which ensures that all proposals improve and encourage access to more sustainable modes of travel. JCS Policy SD3 also requires new development to prioritise movement by sustainable transport modes through design. These policies will form an important part of development proposals in the Borough.

15.6 Whilst the majority of transport-related policy is covered through plans and strategies other than the Cheltenham Plan, there are a number of topic areas where need for a more local level of response has been identified. The Cheltenham Plan has therefore introduced policies to address these areas, having regard to the stance of higher-order policy documents including national policy and the JCS. It is intended that the policies that follow provide clarity and certainty in the areas concerned.

SAFEGUARDING ROUTES FOR SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT

15.7 As part of the drive towards sustainable transport, the Cheltenham Plan has considered the need to protect certain infrastructure where it has the potential to help deliver tangible benefits in future, be they social, environmental or economic. In this respect, the Plan will protect the route of the former Honeybourne rail line where it falls within the Borough boundary.

15.8 It has long been recognised that the route has potential for future use as a continuous sustainable transport corridor, linking the population centres of Bishop’s Cleeve, Cheltenham, Gloucester, and Quedgley. The aim of the following policy will therefore be to safeguard that part of the route that lies within the Cheltenham Borough boundary from development which might prejudice this potential.

POLICY TN1: PROTECTING THE ROUTE OF THE FORMER HONEYBOURNE RAIL LINE


The route of the former Honeybourne Rail Line is delineated on the Cheltenham Plan Proposals Map. Development proposals which would prejudice the future use of the route as continuous sustainable transport corridor will not be permitted.

Development proposals on the Honeybourne Line will also be subject to policy GI1.

This policy contributes towards achieving the Cheltenham Plan Vision: Theme A - objectives f and j; Theme B – objective d; Theme C – objectives a and e.

15.9 Sections of the redundant rail line have already been brought back into beneficial use as a footpath and cycleway, and some of the route is operated as a heritage attraction by the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway. The safeguarding designation as shown on the Proposals Map includes these sections as well as those sections where proposals have yet to be implemented.

15.10 It is anticipated that in the interests of long-term, coherent planning, neighbouring councils will include similar safeguarding proposals for the route in their local plans. The result will be to provide a fully coordinated approach to strategic land management in order to secure economic and other benefits through improved access to key settlements.

TOWN CENTRE PARKING

15.11 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that “Local authorities should seek to improve the quality of parking in town centres so that it is convenient, safe and secure, including appropriate provision for motorcycles”.

15.12 It is recognised that the availability of car parking has a major influence on the means of transport people choose for their journeys. Parking also takes up a large amount of space on-street, in off-street car parks, and in development, where it can reduce developable site area.

15.13 In Cheltenham, demand for car parking space is at its highest in the town centre and future development / population growth across the Borough is likely to create further demand for parking space during the course of the plan period. However, it is recognised that the provision of additional facilities to meet this demand would likely cause further congestion on the highway network, reduce environmental quality and threaten to damage the town’s special fabric and character. Therefore, in order to deter traffic movements to and within the town centre, the Plan does not propose to accommodate additional demand, but rather to encourage the use of alternative forms of transport in accord with the recommendations and action plan of the Cheltenham Car Parking Strategy 2017-2031. Specifically, the Parking Strategy recommended that:

  • on-street parking should focus on short-stay parking
  • longer-stay parking should take place off-street (in car parks)
  • commuter parking should be discouraged
  • commuter travel should be via alternative modes of transport

15.14 The above recommendations are made in light of survey findings which indicate that commuters still use prime town centre spaces for long-stay parking whilst Park & Ride sites remain under-utilised. The recommendations support the provisions of both the GCC Local Transport Plan and the GCC draft Parking Strategy in seeking to:

  • encourage walking, cycling and public transport use through investment in services including Park and Ride (P&R)
  • introduce / maintain a pricing policy which ensures that long-stay parking is always more expensive than bus travel or P&R
  • link to wider planning policy which, where possible, allocates sites of a sufficient size to attract new public transport services.
POLICY TN2: LONG-STAY CAR PARKING


The provision of new long-stay car parking facilities specifically for public use in the Core Commercial Area, either permanent or temporary, will not be permitted except where need has been demonstrated.

This policy contributes towards achieving the Cheltenham Plan Vision: Theme A - objective g; Theme B – objective d.

15.15 It is the Council’s aim to encourage commuters to use alternative modes of transport in order to achieve more sustainable travel patterns. To this end, the authority will be working with the County Council on accessing available funding streams and promoting sustainable transport initiatives wherever possible in future.

15.16 Achieving a shift to more sustainable transport modes will likely mean exploring the possibility for public transport improvements; further encouragement of walking and cycling through, for example, defining and protecting strategic walking and cycling routes (see Policy TN1); and the exploration of new opportunities for P&R in line with the aspirations of the Local Transport Plan. Where such initiatives have land-use planning implications, these will be supported subject to satisfying relevant policies in the Cheltenham Plan and / or the JCS.

15.17 In order to complement the above approach, the Council has already taken measures to reduce provision for public long-stay parking in the town centre in favour of short-stay parking instead. The intention has been to retain the overall number of spaces available but to ensure increased capacity for short-stay use and a higher turnover of users, providing principally for short-stay shoppers, visitors, essential business users, and drivers with disabilities.

15.18 Under Policy TN2, the Council will continue this approach and not grant permission for new permanent or temporary (off-street) long-stay car parks specifically for public use, except as part of a coordinated, comprehensive approach to provision.

15.19 In line with JCS Policies SD3 and INF1, any new development, including for car parking, will require suitable access and parking for cycles in order to promote a shift to more sustainable modes of transport.