Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Land Use and Transport Interaction Working Group (IT 147)

INTEGRATED TRANSPORT WHITE PAPER

BACKGROUND

  The group is formed of leading transport experts and practitioners and was originally convened at the request of Graham Allen MP in May 1996.

  The conclusions of the group's work were submitted to DETR during its consultation period as part of the incoming Labour Government's Transport Policy Review. Further work and meetings with DETR officials and advisors were held during the preparation of the White Paper. In April 1998 we prepared a final paper "Key Messages for the Transport White Paper" which provides the rationale underpinning this present response.

OUR BROAD RESPONSE

  Our broad response is one of strong support for the general direction of change proposed in the White Paper and very largely for the many individual initiatives contained within it. There are inevitably reservations surrounding the detail that has yet to be published and the uncertainty over the timescale for implementation.

  In this memorandum we focus on matters where we sense the Government has yet to appreciate the full implications of its aspirations. We would hope that attention could be given to these points as the daughter documents of the White Paper are worked on and legislative proposals formulated.

  As in our earlier work we concentrate on the mechanisms proposed for land use and transport planning and the integration between them. We reiterate the point that devising appropriate mechanisms does not guarantee that an integrated approach will be adopted in any area, but that without them integration will certainly be harder to achieve. In the context of the Government's proposals for more open government it is also important that the intended mechanisms for integration are clear, and allow appropriate opportunities for public involvement in the choices that are available.

  We offer specific comments on two issues:

    (i)  arrangements for integrated land use/transport planning at regional and sub-regional levels;

    (ii)  the proposed Local Transport Plans and their relationship to the statutory development planning system

.

REGIONAL AND SUB-REGIONAL ARRANGEMENTS

  The White Paper contains many references to the proposed new form of Regional Planning Guidance incorporating a regional transport strategy (4.51; 4.58; 4.158). We are very much in favour of this strengthening of planning at the regional level and the bringing together of the land use and transport components.

  The Government's desire to see the policies and proposals of the Highways Agency and the Strategic Rail Authority being supportive of broader regional planing objectives (including support for Regional Development Agency) is not in doubt. However the "hope" that consistency will be achieved does not sufficiently address the difficulties which are likely to arise on account of the national remit within which these agencies work.

  A good contemporary illustration of this is the setting of traffic or passenger targets. Local highway authorities are currently working under the 1997 Act obligations to determine the road traffic reduction targets appropriate to their own roads. Meanwhile the Highways Agency is not as yet working to any such targets and has only the DETR's National Road Traffic Forecasts as a basis for its work. The SRA is expected to be issued with its own set of targets (3.33).

  Whether these, taken together, will constitute a credible framework for planning within a region (given the interaction between all three elements) is hard to envisage. In the case of rail this is especially significant in the South-East where a large proportion of the network (and almost all of it south of the Thames) fulfils a regional rather than a national function.

  A further difficulty is the SRA's exclusive concern with the rail component of the nation's public transport system. The White Paper properly acknowledges the importance of interchange between the rail network and other modes (3.58; 3.68). But there is no public agency with responsibility for supporting and developing regionally significant bus and coach services. Many places where strategic improvements in public transport are needed, such as access to airports or orbital journeys around conurbations, are not ones where rail facilities are available. It is not reasonable to expect individual local authorities to take on this role, but such improvements are likely to be sought as key components of regional strategies.

  Identifying an appropriate mix between management of the strategic highway network and support and investment in coach and rail services—and relating all of these to development policies in a region—is the core requirement of a regional transport strategy. The mix is likely to vary from area to area and from one corridor to another. But the mechanisms by which any desired mix might be secured are far from clear. There is a world of difference between developing separate programmes for the various transport modes and seeking (nominal) consistency between them and a regional strategy as compared with developing a multi-modal programme which is directly aimed at fulfilling regional objectives.

  The programme of multi-modal studies proposed by DETR in key motorway and trunk road corridors provides an early focus for this issue. To what extent will it be practicable to shift trunk road monies into strategic rail investments or local traffic management (or vice versa) in order to arrive at the most cost-effective solution in a particular corridor? The future possibility of motorway tolling (4.100) and the use of its revenues for alternative transport improvements adds a further dimension to this important issue.

LOCAL TRANSPORT PLANS

  We are very much in favour of the proposed change from TPPs to more comprehensive local transport plans, geared to a longer time scale and with Central Government approval to funding blocks. Where we have concerns is over the relationship of the new LTP system to the statutory development plan system—especially if LTPs themselves become statutory (4.76).

  As with regional planning guidance there is no doubt that the Government aims to achieve integration between land use and transport planning at the local level (4.74; 4.169). But simply seeking "consistency" between local transport plans and development plans (4.77) does not do justice to the dynamic relationship which exists between transport and land use issues in any locality. This relationship is set to become more profound (and more politically contentious) as demand management becomes more prominent, as measures such as congestion charging and workplace parking levies are proposed, and as the local options for applying these measures and using their revenues come to be debated.

  The White Paper implies that consistency can be secured by both sets of plans being prepared within the context of a common regional strategy. Certainly the role of the strategy in establishing key principles surrounding, for example, development location, user charging and parking standards is an important pre-requisite. But there are many important decisions relating to site specific developments which are only addressed at the level of district plans (or UDP Part II).

  Is it possible to consider options for strategic housing or employment development in different towns without at the same time being able to consider the feasibility of catering for their generated traffic or providing attractive public transport alternatives? Is it realistic to discuss area boundaries for congestion charges or parking levies without considering the pressure they might generate for land use developments just outside these areas? If these issues are to arise in connection with both LTPs and development plans which one is to take precedence, and will interested members of the public be able to recognise the distinction?

  These questions demonstrate that as far as policy debates on these matters are concerned they need to take place within a single local forum. Since the development plan process is an established statutory requirement that forum has to be the development plan. However this principle raises a number of practical issues.

  Local Transport Plans are to be phased in beginning 1999-2000, but the relevant district plans (circa 1996-98) owe their origins to regional guidance and structure plans developed well before the current policy era. LTPs will therefore be prepared ahead of District Plan revisions and—being conducted in a narrower context—will tend to pre-empt debate that should properly take place within the local plan. A particular incentive to do this will occur in two-tier shire county areas where the highway authority responsible for LTPs will be the upper (county) tier, whilst the planning authority for district plans is the lower (district) tier.

  Fortunately the significance of this mismatch is diminished in the early years of LTPs before the full five-year horizon is introduced and before the possibilities of user charging and associated investment options come into play. The potential for linking LTPs to the district plan or UDP cycle in due course nevertheless deserves to be addressed. Since development plans are not reviewed on a rigid cycle it may well be that in future the policy element of LTPs should form part of the district plan/UDP cycle, with some corresponding flexibility being applied to the "five-year" horizon set for the programming and funding of local transport expenditures.

  We hope you find these points useful. Further papers are attached[2] that provide the background and context to the Land Use and Transport Interaction Working Group.

    —  Key Messages for the White Paper, 16 April 1998, (Paper B).

    —  Achieving Integrated Planning at Regional and Local Levels, 2 March 1998 (Paper C).

    —  Integrating Transport and Land Use Planning, 26 September 1997 (Paper D).

    —  Delivering an Integrated Land Use/Transport Strategy, 26 September 1997 (Paper E).

  Paper E briefly states the concepts underlying the group's work and the changes that will be required to achieve integration of transport and land use. Paper D outlines in greater detail how this might be achieved. Paper B, written prior to the White Paper's publication, recognises that the White Paper outlines an agenda for future action and that there are still areas where thinking and policy will evolve further, both in relation to the ideas contained within the White Paper itself and in the parallel reviews modernising planning and local government. Paper C, written prior to the White Paper, and our memorandum, look beyond the White Paper discussing some of the broader planning and delivery structures issues.

Councillor Nicky Gavron

Chairman

18 September 1998


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