Active Travel SPD

Ended on the 4 October 2023
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4. Local Context

In 2008 Colchester was designated as a Cycling Town following Cycling Demonstration Town work. This work showed that for a modal shift to occur three aspects need to be considered; these were infrastructure, training and marketing. The project enabled the Council, working in partnership with Essex County Council (ECC), to improve the then town (now city) cycle network, increase the number of cycle parking spaces and deliver several training and promotional campaigns.

The Colchester Cycling Delivery Strategy, adopted by Colchester City Council as SPD in 2012, was created to provide guidance and support this work. Over the years it has been used as guidance for many of the infrastructure changes and updates to the current networks. It was also used to inform the ECC Colchester Cycling Action Plan and the Colchester Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). This Active Travel SPD will replace the Colchester Cycling Delivery Strategy SPD.

Colchester Local Plan

This SPD aligns with the Councils adopted policies in the Local Plan, expands upon the existing planning policy on the provision of appropriate infrastructure requirements contained within the Local Plan; as well as supporting future initiatives, including for example, the emerging City Centre Masterplan.

The Colchester Local Plan is in two sections. Section 1 provides a shared strategic policy context and was adopted in February 2021. Section 2 of the Local Plan was adopted in July 2022 and provides the policy framework, site allocations and development management policies for the borough. The most relevant Local Plan policies to this SPD are summarised below.

Policy SP7: Place Shaping Principles – which requires all new development to reflect a number of place shaping principles including creating 'well-connected places that prioritise the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport services above use of the private car'.

Policy SG7: Infrastructure Delivery and Impact Mitigation – requires all new development to be supported by, and have good access to, all necessary infrastructure. It sets out that 'Permission will only be granted if it can be demonstrated that there is sufficient appropriate infrastructure capacity to support the development or that such capacity will be delivered by the proposal'. It also states 'Where a development proposal requires additional infrastructure capacity, to be deemed acceptable, mitigation measures must be agreed with the Local Planning Authority and the appropriate infrastructure provider.'

Policy ENV3: Green Infrastructure – states that the 'Local Planning Authority will aim to protect, enhance and deliver a comprehensive green infrastructure network comprising strategic green links...' It seeks to protect and enhance the existing network and to secure the delivery of new green infrastructure where deficiencies and gaps are identified. It states the Local Planning Authority will 'seek opportunities from future developments, where appropriate, to improve the connectivity between the Colchester Orbital route, new developments and the wider countryside.'

Policy PP1: Generic Infrastructure and Mitigation Requirements – which, in addition to site specific requirements, requires all proposals to make contributions to the cost of infrastructure improvements as required and supported by up-to-date evidence from appropriate sources. In addition, proposals must as relevant, address a number of borough wide requirements including 'safe pedestrian access from the site to existing footways to enhance connectivity'.

Policy DM1: Health and Wellbeing – which requires all development to be designed to help promote healthy and active lifestyles including through 'providing a healthy living environment where healthy lifestyles can be promoted including green space and creating attractive opportunities for activities including walking, cycling, horse riding and formal sport, as well as clearly seeking to improve opportunities to increase levels of physical activity within the community.'

Policy DM20: Promoting Sustainable Transport and Changing Travel Behaviour – seeks to increase modal shift towards sustainable modes by improving accessibility of development through the promotion of walking and cycling as an integral part of development.

Policy DM21: Sustainable Access to Development – states that 'All new developments should seek to enhance accessibility for sustainable modes of transport.' To achieve this, proposals for development should:

  1. Give priority to the movement of people walking and cycling;
  2. Create safe, secure, convenient and attractive layouts which minimise conflicts between traffic, cyclists and pedestrians;
  3. Link the development to the surrounding walking, cycling and public transport networks taking into consideration the Cycle Strategy SPD;
  4. Provide and give access to quality public transport facilities;
  5. Ensure streets and junctions are designed to provide people-friendly street environments and to give priority to sustainable transport;
  6. Incorporate charging facilities for electric and other ultra-low emission vehicles where appropriate, or as a minimum the ability to easily introduce such facilities in the future;
  7. Ensuring accessibility for those with impaired mobility; and
  8. Accommodate the efficient delivery of goods and services.

Policy DM22: Parking – contains requirements for secure cycle parking to be provided. The Essex Parking Standards: Design and Good Practice document was published in 2009 and adopted by Colchester Borough Council as SPD in 2012. This document, which is currently being updated, includes information on the quantity and quality of cycle parking required in new developments as well as location and layout.

Essex Transport Policy

The Essex Cycling Strategy was published in November 2016. This strategy aims to encourage Essex residents, workers and visitors to enjoy the health benefits of cycling; it acts as the over-arching policy framework to enable, provide and promote cycling in Essex.

The Essex Walking Strategy was published in October 2021. This strategy is a response to the challenges and opportunities of walking in Essex. It outlines in detail the steps being taken to encourage walking at present and the direction that will be taken in the future.

The Colchester Cycling Action Plan (CCAP) was published by Essex County Council in January 2018 as part of a commitment in the Essex Cycling Strategy to create Cycling Action Plans for every district. The CCAP aims to:

  • Identify how cycling levels could be increased in the city area.
  • Enable any funding for new cycling schemes in Colchester to be prioritised.
  • Create a useable, high-quality cycle network.
  • Create opportunities to increase recreational cycling in Colchester.

The Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) was developed in 2018. This plan aims to see the introduction of new walking, wheeling and cycling networks making it easier and safer for people to walk and cycle in our city. Key outputs of the LCWIP include:

  • A network plan for walking, wheeling and cycling which identifies preferred routes and core zones for further route development;
  • A prioritised programme of infrastructure improvements for future investment; and
  • A report which sets out the underlying analysis carried out and provides a narrative which supports the identified improvements and network.

The Colchester Transport Strategy, published in July 2022, contains a vision 'To transform Colchester into a place which prioritises active and safe sustainable travel to bring about health, environmental and economic benefits.' The Future Transport Strategy focuses on the type of journey – short, medium and long distance. This is achieved through creating zones: Zone 1 (City Centre); Zone 2 (Wider City Area); Zone 3 (Borough Boundary); and Zone 4 (Strategic Corridors).

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