South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18)

12 Transport and Accessibility

Overview

12.1 South Somerset is a predominantly rural district with diverse travel patterns, meaning the car will remain an essential mode of travel. However, considerable benefits can be delivered through enabling travel by means other than the car. This includes improved health through increased walking and cycling, reductions in carbon emissions, enabling social inclusion, and reducing the impact of congestion.

12.2 Other measures, such as home working, encouraging the use of low emission alternative fuel, electric vehicles, demand responsive public transport (using alternative fuel/hybrid/electric vehicles), and car share schemes should therefore be considered on a scale and degree appropriate to the site proposed for development.

12.3 Whilst new technologies will, in time, play an important part in reducing CO2, they are unlikely to be sufficient in isolation and will not address health (particularly in tackling obesity) and congestion issues. Consequently, substantial investment in measures to promote sustainable travel will be needed.

12.4 There is potential to achieve this in Yeovil, particularly in the Sustainable Urban Extensions. Achieving District-wide modal shift will be more challenging, although new technologies, improved design, and greater awareness of choice through more robust travel planning, will reduce the need to travel and achieve an increase in more sustainable modes where travel remains necessary. A reasonable aim for the modal shift policy in Chard and Yeovil, the largest settlements, would therefore be to reduce the number of cars being used for short journeys to local shops and facilities, the town centre, and travelling to work, and to maintain car use at current levels in our Market Towns, Rural Centres and Rural Settlements. For the Yeovil Sustainable Urban Extensions, the aim is to ensure that at least 30% of travel is by sustainable means.

12.5 There has been significant growth in rail travel in recent years, with that for the Heart of Wessex Line, in particular, exceeding the rate of growth nationally by up to three times [1] , Notwithstanding this, infrequent and unsuitable timings for commuting on both the Bristol - Weymouth and London (Paddington) - Penzance lines, and the poor location of stations on these and the London (Waterloo) - Exeter line, means that achieving modal shift to rail for short journeys will be challenging to achieve. However, there are opportunities to improve sustainable links to rail stations and also inter-changeability at both Yeovil stations.

12.6 Modern rail freight can be effective at reducing heavy goods vehicle (HGV) traffic but facilities for rail transfer are needed at or near the point of origin, and at the destination. Of the few railheads currently within the district, none are capable of accommodating modal transfer.

12.7 The needs of people with disabilities should be considered for all modes of transport.

12.8 In 2017, Highways England consulted on the proposed dualling of the A303 and A358. The District Council supports these proposals in principle as both schemes have the potential to improve connectivity and bring significant economic benefits to the District. A Development Consent Order has been submitted for dualling from Sparkford to Podimore and any local concerns will be heard at the Public Examination, which began in December 2018 and will continue during 2019.

1. Heart of Wessex Rail Partnership Line Plan 2016 [back]

A Generic District-wide Modal Shift Policy

Low Carbon Travel

12.9 These District-wide measures are aimed at reducing single car occupancy and the need to travel, or encouraging the use of more sustainable travel, or alternative fuels where travel remains necessary.

12.10 The Council recognises that for certain schemes, by virtue of their size and scale, it will not be viable or feasible to require all the measures set out below to be delivered. Supporting material accompanying planning applications will need to explain what measures can be accomplished, and the reasons why measures cannot be delivered.

12.11 The measures to be applied in all major [2]  developments include:

a. Providing Good Information

  • Car share schemes - benefits and how to join;
  • Travel Information Packs and dedicated websites;
  • Public transport information - timetable and maps of nearest bus routes and interchanges (including interchange with rail) and details connecting local bus, and longer distance travel such as express coach and trains;
  • Maps showing local footpaths and cycle ways, bus stops, and facilities – health, education, shops, employment, churches, recreation & leisure etc.;
  • Details of cycle training, cycle/equipment sales & repairs, cycle clubs, health benefits etc.;
  • Information on the health benefits of walking; and
  • Benefits and advice on working from home;
  • Somerset County Council offers useful guidance on Smarter Travel Information Packs.[3] The requirement to provide travel information packs should apply to all residential and employment developments.

b. Encouraging Electric Car Use

  • Encouraging the use of electric cars through the provision of a 16 amp (or greater capacity as deemed appropriate) charging point(s) within the curtilage of the site
  • The requirement to provide charging points for electric cars should apply to all major residential and employment developments.

c. Incentivising Sustainable Travel

  • A Green Travel Voucher for use on sustainable transport or other sustainable means of travel to an agreed amount per dwelling, to be given to each set of occupants at the time of first occupation and repeated for a maximum of 3 tenures per unit up to 5 years following the first occupation of that unit. Similarly, for employment sites, a Green Travel Voucher should be provided for each employee[4] at commencement of employment. In respect of public transport, the vouchers should be non-operator specific and should be available for exchange for passes for one year’s travel on local bus routes, including Demand Responsive Routes, within a 10 mile radius of site (to encourage interchange).

d. Cycling and walking

  • The encouragement of cycling and walking by providing cycle and pedestrian routes to link the new development with new/existing routes by utilising lightly trafficked or off-road links for pedestrians and cyclists. These routes should permeate the site to ensure ease of access around the development;
  • Developments should seek to protect and improve existing cycling and pedestrian routes to facilitate site links to the wider network;
  • Providing facilities for cycle parking within the new development commensurate with the levels and standards designated in the County Wide Parking Strategy as set out in Policy TA6.

e. Home Working

  • Encouragement to work from home applying to all residential development through improved design, commensurate with the type of dwelling, and by enabling easier access to Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). This should include designed-in work areas (e.g. specific space for desk, pc, and phone) but does not necessarily mean a dedicated room as the work area could be within a lounge or bedroom; and Broadband connections.

f. Public Transport

  • Improved public transport connections should be made by developments in Market Towns, Rural Centres and Rural Settlements, increasing accessibility through enhancements to either existing conventional bus routes, existing Demand Responsive Transport Schemes, or the provision of new services and new bus stops, bus timetables and bus shelters. The developer to provide funding commensurate with the size of the site to enable good on-going connections with the public transport network, and where the scale of new residential development or employment sites would have an impact on existing public transport, planning obligations will be sought. 

g. Travel Planning

  • Travel planning measures over and above those measures listed above but commensurate with the scale of the site and in accord with the land use site thresholds referred to in Policy TA1.

 h. Timing of Provision

  • Ensuring that sustainable travel habits are established from the start. This means that sustainable transport measures need to be in place and operational concurrent with the first occupancy. 

 

POLICY TA1 – LOW CARBON TRAVEL

i. Unless specified otherwise, all major new development in South Somerset should:

a. Provide Travel Information Packs and a travel website where information can be updated and supplied;

b. Provide for the charging of electric vehicles with an external charging point of at least 16 amps within the curtilage of the site in accordance with the following thresholds:

1. Each new dwelling with one or more parking spaces shall provide at least one electric charging point (16 amp minimum).

2. All new non-residential developments providing 50 or more car parking spaces shall be served by electric vehicle charging points (16 amp minimum) for at least two percent of all spaces. Every effort should be made to safeguard the most desirable parking spaces for the charging of electric vehicles.

3.In addition, all new retail or leisure sites providing car parking for 50 or more spaces shall provide at least one rapid charger to service customer vehicles.

c. Provide a Green Travel Voucher for each occupier/ employee valid for 6 months for use on sustainable transport;

d. Provide cycle and pedestrian routes and facilities for cycle parking within the new development commensurate with the levels and standards designated in the SCC cycle parking strategy;

e. Ensure that sustainable transport measures on the site are in place and operational concurrent with first occupancy.

f. Developments of all new residential dwellings should enable ease of working from home by providing a designed-in specific work area with broadband connections.

ii. Planning obligations commensurate with the scale of development will be sought to:

1.Deliver improved public transport connections, increasing accessibility through enhancements to either existing conventional bus routes or existing Demand Responsive Transport schemes

2. The provision of new services and new bus stops, bus timetables and bus shelters.

3. The developer will be required to enter into a planning obligation in accordance with Policy SS5 to ensure provision of such facilities, which shall be provided prior to first occupation of the new development.

2. Major development is defined in the Town and Country (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 as: (a) developments where the number of dwelling houses to be provided is 10 or more; or (b) the development is to be carried out on a site having an area of 0.5 hectares or more and it is not known whether the development falls within sub-paragraph (c); (c) the provision of a building or buildings where the floor space to be created by the development is 1,000 square metres or more; or (d) development carried out on a site having an area of 1 hectare or more; [back]
3. http://www.movingsomersetforward.co.uk/new-developments/planning-guidance [back]
4. Part-time staff and temporary staff with a contract of employment should receive such a voucher on a pro-rata basis, although provision would not be expected for casual staff [back]

Rail

12.12 To further encourage modal shift, the Council will promote and protect land for additional rail facilities. These will include improved car parking such as that proposed at Crewkerne (Policy CR3) and Castle Cary (Policy AC4).

 

POLICY TA2 – RAIL FACILITIES

The Council will protect and promote the development of land for passenger rail facilities and rail freight hubs where there is robust evidence in support of developing infrastructure to widen transport choice.

Travel Plans

12.13 SCC has produced 'Travel Planning Guidance'[5] and this has been offered to local planning authorities as a basis for adoption as an optional Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). The District Council has not formally adopted the document, but key elements of the guidance have been taken on board in producing the Travel Plans Policy TA3.

12.14 To reinforce the measures in Policies TA1 and TA2, dependent on the scale of the development, one of 3 types of Travel Plan (a Measures-only Travel Statement, or a Travel Plan Statement or a Full Travel Plan) should be in place to encourage modal shift, deliver subsequent health benefits from more active travel modes and reduce the impact of congestion.

12.15 The differences between these types of Travel Plan are fully explained in SCCs 'Travel Planning Guidance' which indicates the different contents required by each type and the thresholds where respective types will apply. Reference should also be made to SCC’s ‘Manual for Travel Plans’ that offers practical advice on the measures including the implementation and on-going management of Travel Plans.

12.16 Policy TA3 advocates the County Council Travel Plan Guidance, although there are three key differences in the interpretation of thresholds and measures. These are:

  • The SCC guidance refers to employee numbers and gives an indicative Gross Floor Area (GFA) equivalent [6] . Predicting the number of employees for a site is extremely difficult. In respect of employment sites Policy TA3 therefore excludes requirements in relation to the Gross Floor Area (GFA) based on indicative employment densities[7] .
  • The SCC guidance refers to a parking management strategy and this includes measures such as charging, Controlled Parking Zones and Traffic Regulation Orders[8] . This is too prescriptive as there is a need to ensure flexibility of the respective site and such measures should be determined through negotiation as and when pertinent to that site.
  • SCCs Travel planning guidance promotes safeguarding measures with bonds and ESCROW accounts[9] . An ESCROW account is where a deposit, usually in this instance, money, or possibly a deed, stock, or written instrument is put into the custody of a third party and is retained until the agreed actions have been delivered. SSDC has concerns regarding the additional cost implications for developers and the consequent impact on the viability of a development. An s106 agreement is in itself legally binding and any safeguarding through bonds or ESCROWS should be negotiated on a case-by-case basis and should only be in respect of financial default by a developer.

12.17 SSDC expects concurrence with the interpretation of these thresholds and measures.

12.18 Travel Plans for specific sites shouldn't be seen in isolation. There is greater potential for the delivery of the more significant measures through joint working with other Travel Plans, both new and existing. Travel Plan Forums should therefore be set up to include key stakeholders (developers, public transport, occupiers, employers, residents etc. as well as SSDC and SCC).

12.19 In respect of speculative developments including outline planning applications, a Framework or Umbrella Travel [10]  Plan to cover the entire development site in accordance with SCCs 'Travel Planning Guidance' should be provided. This also applies to the Yeovil Sustainable Urban Extensions for which additional specific measures are included in Policy YV1.

 

POLICY TA3 – TRAVEL PLANS

i. Travel Plans will be required in accordance with Somerset County Council’s Travel Plan Guidance, commensurate with the scale of the development. The three broad types of Travel Plan are:

  • Measures-only Travel Statements;
  • Travel Plan Statements; and
  • Full Travel Plans.

ii. The Travel plan Guidance will be complied with, with the exception of:

a. requirements in relation to the Gross Floor Area (GFA) based on indicative employment densities;

b. a parking management strategy, including measures such as charging, Controlled Parking Zones and Traffic Regulation Orders; and

c. safeguarding measures with bonds and ESCROW accounts

iii. All development within the Yeovil Sustainable Urban Extensions will be required to meet the Framework Travel Plan criteria and be commensurate with Policy YV1.

iv. Any development site with 25 or more car parking spaces or more than 1000sq m of floor area could be required to produce a travel plan as a general principle. This is used as a basic threshold to negotiate and determine a requirement for a travel plan document for land uses not specifically referred to in the Travel Plan Guidance.

5. SCC Transport Policies Travel Plan Guidance - adopted as formal technical guidance Nov 2011 (Thresholds for Travel Plans in Somerset page15 and Table 1.2) [back]
6. SCC Transport Policies Travel Plan Guidance - TVS 6 chapter 3 Tables 3.2 and 3.3 pages 39,40 & 41 [back]
7. Employment Densities: A Full Guide. Final Report, English Partnerships and the RDAs (2001) [back]
8. SCC Transport Policies Travel Plan Guidance - Table 2.2 page 17 'Measures expected in a travel plan document' a. 'Measures only Travel Statements' [back]
9. SCC Transport Policies Travel Plan Guidance - Policy TVS 14, page 62 [back]
10. SCC Transport Policies Travel Plan Guidance - Chapter 3 Action Plans for speculative development sites, page 41 [back]

Transport Impacts of Development

12.20 All new development is required to address its own transport implications.  Larger schemes are required to prepare Transport Assessments [11]  and, where required, Travel Plans to illustrate how the amount of trips generated will be minimised, how the impacts will be accommodated, and how accessibility to the site by all modes of transport will be achieved.

12.21 The Strategic Road Network is formed by Motorways and Trunk Roads, National Primary and County Routes in Somerset. National Primary Routes and County Routes accord with the routes identified in the local Highway Authority's (Somerset County Council) route hierarchy. In order to prevent the unnecessary interruption of traffic flow and to prevent increase of highway hazard, the formation of new direct accesses onto these roads will not be permitted. Exceptions will only be made where the type of development is such that it requires a high order (of route hierarchy) route location, such as roadside service stations or freight transfer facilities.

12.22 Access to development proposed that will connect to rural roads carrying relatively high speed traffic should be designed according to the needs of drivers and other users to enter safely into such traffic. The advice and guidance in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges will be appropriate in these environments, mostly rural locations. This is likely to be the case for developments related to farm diversification or for tourist attractions specific to rural locations.

12.23 Development proposals will be expected to provide or contribute towards the cost of providing transport infrastructure where this is necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms [12] .

12.24 Contributions may also be required to meet the management and maintenance of services and facilities provided. The appropriate range and level of contributions will be assessed in a comprehensive manner, taking into account strategic infrastructure requirements and using standard charges where appropriate.

12.25 The nature and scale of any planning obligations sought will be related to the form and scale of development and its potential impact upon the surrounding area. In determining nature and scale, specific site conditions and other material considerations including viability, redevelopment of previously developed land or mitigation of contamination may be taken into account. The timing of provision of infrastructure and facilities will be carefully considered in order to ensure that appropriate provision is married against occupation of the development.

 

POLICY TA4 – TRANSPORT IMPACT OF NEW DEVELOPMENT

All new development shall be required to address its own transport implications and shall be designed to maximise the potential for sustainable transport through: 

  1. Safeguarding existing and new transport infrastructure, which is important to an efficient and sustainable transport network from development that would prejudice their transport use;
  2. Securing inclusive, safe and convenient access on foot, cycle, and by public and private transport that addresses the needs of all commensurate with the type and scale of development;
  3. Ensuring that the expected nature and volume of traffic and parked vehicles generated by the development would not have a detrimental impact on the character or amenity of the area and would not compromise the safety and/or function of the local or strategic road networks in terms of both volume and type of traffic generated;
  4. Ensuring that proposals, which specifically require a location with direct access to the strategic road network due to the volumes and quality of traffic generated, are well located on these networks. There is a presumption against direct access from the strategic road network. Exemptions will only be made where the type of development is such that it requires a high order (of route hierarchy) route location, such as roadside service stations or freight transfer facilities;
  5. Assessing the transport impact of development and ensuring delivery of the necessary transport infrastructure for the proposal and requiring larger schemes to prepare Transport Assessments in accordance with the opinion of the Transport Authority.
  6. Requiring car parking and service vehicle needs at levels appropriate to the development and its location, in accordance with the approved/adopted standards identified in Policy TA5.

 

11. In compliance with the requirements set out in DCLG and DfT Guidance on Transport Assessment, March 2007 [back]
12. In compliance with the requirements set out in the National Planning Policy Framework [back]

Parking Standards

12.26 Owning a car is an essential part of daily life for many people in South Somerset. This is shown by higher than average car ownership levels in South Somerset where just 15% of households do not have access to a car, compared to a national average of 26%[13] . The rural nature of South Somerset must be considered in setting appropriate levels of parking provision in new development.

12.27 The amount of parking provided in new developments should strike an appropriate balance that considers various issues. Enough car parking needs to be provided to help support the local economy and allow people to make necessary trips, particularly for those whose only realistic travel option is the car. Too much car parking can encourage car use and lead to congestion and increased CO2 emissions, and can waste land and result in poorly designed places; whilst too little parking can lead to parking in inappropriate places, making the streets more cluttered.

12.28 Other key issues in setting parking standards include car ownership; the accessibility of the development; the type, mix and use of development; and the overall need to reduce the use of high-emission vehicles.[14]

12.29 Cycling is supported for many important reasons, including improving health and wellbeing, minimising CO2 emissions, and reducing traffic congestion. A fundamental part of encouraging people to cycle is by providing high quality, secure and convenient cycle parking in new developments. Somerset County Council's (SCC) Travel Planning Guidance (November 2011) includes further detail on this. The County Council’s Future Transport Plan and Cycling Strategy will be taken on board where they accord with policies in this document.

12.30 SCC has adopted the Countywide Parking Strategy (March 2012), which includes parking standards for cars, cycles and motorcycles for both residential and non-residential development. It is logical and appropriate to apply the Highway Authority's car parking standards in South Somerset and the District Council has endorsed their use.

12.31 The adopted Countywide Parking Strategy will therefore be applied when considering parking provision for new developments in South Somerset. The County Council has clarified that urban extensions (such as Yeovil and Chard) should adopt the parking standards of the adjacent settlement.

 

POLICY TA5 - PARKING STANDARDS

Parking provision in new development should be design-led and based upon site characteristics, location and accessibility. The parking standards within the Somerset County Council Parking Strategy will be applied in South Somerset.

13. Source Census 2011 data [back]
14. NPPF 2019. Paragraph 110 [back]