Elmbridge Borough is required by the state to consult Surrey County on transport matters. This makes sense to a degree because the nature of transport means that broader issues need to be taken into account. However Surrey does not have a coherent transport policy against which individual planner applications can be tested.
For example, Surrey does not have a methodology to produce a road classification. In other words it has no idea why one road is classified as an “A” road, another a “B” road or another a “C” road. It follows that it has no idea what role a road is supposed to undertake and therefore what can be built on it or have access to it.
The main paragraphs of the NPPF relating to transport follows. The last word “severe” is very important. Surrey tells me that it cannot do anything much in terms of planning because it may only act if the the effects of a planning application are severe. However, the Department for Communities and Local Government tells me that it is up to local authorities to decide what “severe” means.
All developments that generate significant amounts of movement should be
supported by a Transport Statement or Transport Assessment. Plans and
decisions should take account of whether:
- the opportunities for sustainable transport modes have been taken up
depending on the nature and location of the site, to reduce the need for
major transport infrastructure;
- safe and suitable access to the site can be achieved for all people; and
- improvements can be undertaken within the transport network that cost
effectively limit the significant impacts of the development. Development
should only be prevented or refused on transport grounds where the
residual cumulative impacts of development are severe.
I would suggest that Surrey calibrates its own impact criteria and definitions. How
about – “severe is the condition whereby following an application being
permitted the mean traffic speed, for any hour in the day, would be 75%
slower than the mean traffic speed at 2am?
The Manual for Streets is often used by Surrey as a basis for its decisions – it makes an interesting read.