What does the Draft Revised NPPF mean for Transport Planning?

The NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) in England has been with us 6 years and the Government has just issued a Draft Revised NPPF. The Housing Delivery Test is currently making the headlines, but this piece focuses on what the update means for Transport Planning and Development.

The presumption in favour of sustainable development is still central and the importance of Transport Assessments/Statements and Travel Plans in support of development proposals remains, even if the Travel Plan is no longer described as a ‘key tool’. The Transport Assessment process has possibly been strengthened in some subtle ways in this new document which has moved the Sustainable Transport chapter nearer the end of the document and cut the number of paragraphs from 13 to 9, although the various sections have been rearranged making it less easy to identify the specific changes.

The NPPF introduced the concept of developments only being refused on transport grounds if the residual cumulative impacts were severe. The new document helpfully expands this statement by being specific that this relates to the road network or road safety and in paragraph 110 providing the context for this which highlights the importance of designing the development for walking and cycling and public transport. This builds on paragraph 108 where the emphasis is on ensuring that sustainable transport opportunities are taken up and not just taking account of them which is the NPPF’s approach. Addressing the needs of the mobility impaired also fits into this context as well as creating safe, secure and attractive places.

The importance of considering transport issues from the outset is given weight as this is how the promoting sustainable transport chapter starts (paragraph 103) and this is discussed elsewhere in relation to addressing infrastructure and mitigation needs during the pre-application process.
Paragraph 106 on local parking standards is the same as the previous paragraph 39, but with the need for EV charging spaces specifically identified. Clear and compelling justification is needed for the setting of any maximum parking standards.
The importance of location, density and mixed-use are discussed, but the lasting impression of the Draft Revised NPPF for me is ‘opportunities’ a word it uses quite a bit in relation to promoting sustainable transport. Making the most of the opportunities requires an ability to see that they are there in the first place and then taking them. The Clarkebond Transport Planning team uses a focused approach to understanding the baseline transport situation and the relevant  policy and to work with the multi-disciplinary team to design the development so as to realise the opportunities that are there. Relevant and cost-effective solutions that are consistent with the scale of the development needs to be borne in mind.
by David Knight, BEng(Hons) TPP FCILT MCIHT, Regional Director, Clarkebond