The Longer Term Transport Strategy for Bedfordshire
|Strategy||Towards 2021 – Longer-Term Transport Strategy|
|Main Partners||Contributors to the MKSM Sub-Regional Strategy and East of England Plan|
|Key Actions||Influence the development of regional and local policy|
|Further Information||Contact us or the East of England Regional Assembly|
To some extent, Bedfordshire’s situation in 2021, although uncertain, has predictable elements to it. A period of prolonged and sustained growth will increase the resident population by 18% and create 50,000 new jobs, an increase of 21% over the current Bedfordshire and Luton figure. The large infrastructure projects which are underway or in the pipeline will be operating and we will have more understanding of the impact of growth on the environment. By the end of this LTP, the framework for accommodating growth will be finalised and will incorporate regional, sub regional and local policies.
In terms of a local strategy for transport, long term aims are already adequately encompassed within existing strategies and documents, and new organisational structures will be in place. However, for completeness, this section identifies the role we see for transport in 2021.
All aspects of Bedfordshire’s long term vision are dominated by the Sustainable Communities agenda, and its impact on new and existing residents. The long term transport strategy aims to support the principles and provision of balanced communities and facilitate an appropriate transport and travel network.
Our public involvement exercises identified the transport impacts of the Sustainable Communities agenda as a key long term concern (see the 'Local Views on Transport' section in Chapter 4). There is a public consensus that all modes of transport need to be improved if Bedfordshire is to deal with future housing and employment growth in a sustainable way. The public and our stakeholders clearly told us that a longer term strategy for tackling the challenges associated with the Sustainable Communities Plan needs to be an integral part of this Local Transport Plan, to deal with future growth in a sustainable way (see Appendix B).
The Local Transport Strategy for Bedfordshire is not a further independent policy document, rather it is a combination of the elements contained in existing regional, sub regional and local policies (discussed in Chapter 2), and is based on what we expect to happen over the next 15 year period. The LTP sets the transport policies for the immediate 5 year period and its strategies allow for the eventual delivery of the longer term county-wide transport objectives.
Given the local priorities set out in “Transforming Bedfordshire”, there are 3 key themes to the Local Transport Strategy, which when taken together, present a vision for the County in 2021. These themes are
- Working in partnership to deliver growth
- Helping to build strong, prosperous and sustainable communities; and
- Embracing opportunities for all.
These themes are set out in the tables below, and the relevance of LTP objectives and strategies is shown.
Long term theme 1
The transport challenge
Relevant LTP strategies
|We will work in partnership within the regional, sub regional and local planning context to deliver the growth agenda||
Bedfordshire’s central and convenient location makes it ideal to meet the growing demands of the increasing population. To this end, we expect Bedford to develop as a Regional Interchange Centre (RIC) which will increase the opportunities for public transport and interchange within the urban area and through the County. We know that the current infrastructure schemes (LTP, HA and DfT Rail) will not keep pace with demand but that the proposals put forward in the RTS will help to redress the balance by 2021, so we will continue to work with authorities in the region and sub region to assess future demands for infrastructure.
This part of the strategy encourages new ways of working to deliver the Sustainable Communities agenda. Bedfordshire faces new challenges to deliver the quantity of growth required to 2021, but LTP2 will set a strong base by its three pronged approach of commitments, consolidation and preparing for growth.
|Long term theme 2||The transport challenge||LTP objective||Relevant LTP strategies|
|We will build strong, prosperous and sustainable communities||
The increase in population has the potential to alter existing patterns of development and movement, and local centres particularly in the growth locations may take on a more significant role. In terms of new employment opportunities, the focus is to create a modern and diverse economy, and to maximise our potential as a destination for IT, aviation, scientific and high tech manufacturing jobs.
With increased demand for roadspace and travel opportunities comes the requirement to manage our transport network well and efficiently. There will also be unprecedented demands on the environment and measures for its protection and enhancement are essential.
|Long term theme 3||The transport challenge||LTP objective||Relevant LTP strategies|
|We will embrace equality of opportunity for all, and improve the quality of life for all residents||
Prolonged and sustained growth will provide new opportunities which must be available to all, particularly to those with fewer life chances. Transport and travel to essential services can improve quality of life so that all can access the expected increased prosperity. The overriding principle of balanced communities is one where everyone has a better quality of life, and a positive, responsive and forward thinking transport system is essential to this.
The local transport strategy is based on our position in 2006 in terms of the current policy framework, and expected future levels of development (see Chapter 2). While certain aspects of long term planning and transport requirements can be accurately reflected and planned for, there are variables which bring uncertainty to the overall picture, and it would be negligent to make fixed predictions about transport and travel needs in 2021 without highlighting these uncertainties. Table 4 ‘Implications for Bedfordshire of national and regional issues’ shows which national and regional issues may have an adverse effect on our capability to be certain about the future state of Bedfordshire
Implications for Bedfordshire
|Changes to the rail framework and national strategies||
The East of England Regional Planning Assessment for the railway sets the following medium term objectives (5 – 15 years),
which have particular implications in relation to the proposed regional growth:
Particular reference is made towards the Route Utilisation Strategy on Midland Mainline, Thameslink 2000 Programme and Marston Vale Community Rail Partnership, which are discussed later in this chapter
|Consensus on road pricing given increasing allocations||By 2014/15, TIF allocations nationally will increase to £2.5 billion per year with objectives to reduce congestion and increase productivity. Increasing population and economic activity in Bedfordshire will provide opportunities to exploit this funding, building on existing partnerships.|
|Future infrastructure requirements||
We will seek to reach agreement with the Highways Agency about future infrastructure needs on the Motorway and Trunk Road
Network – specifically the A1 bypass of Sandy and Beeston.
50,000 additional jobs in Bedfordshire means that we have a positive interest in sub regional infrastructure, and we will work with adjacent authorities to promote a cohesive national infrastructure programme, for example, the inclusion of the A428 St Neots – Caxton in the national programme.
|Luton Airport expansion||Uncertainty about phasing and final passenger throughput figures means that the impact of expansion for surface access cannot currently be fixed, and that estimated impacts will be subject to change. However, any further expansion will rely on an increasing proportion of air passenger and employee journeys made by public transport, as capacity for car based transport and parking is limited.|
|Regional Funding Allocations||We expect the process for regional prioritisation to change within the plan period. This may influence how schemes are put forward.|
|Healthy communities||An increasing emphasis on health issues may lead to changed priorities which influence the transport agenda, with particular priority given to non car modes.|
|Planning gain supplement||Central government has yet to confirm how planning gain from new development will operate in the future, whether this will be on a tariff basis or according to need. This will have particular significance for the Growth Area where demand for new infrastructure may not be matched by its deliverability.|
|Review of regional and sub regional policies||Provisional planning assumptions about further levels of housing growth between 2021 and 2031 amount to an additional 10,000 dwellings in Bedford/Kempston/Northern Marston Vale, and 15,400 in Luton/Dunstable/Houghton Regis (with Leighton Linslade). These figures will be subject to further review through the Regional Spatial Strategy process.|
Long term national and regional issues
The LTP’s ability to aid the delivery of longer term transport objectives will also be influenced by local variables, not least of which is Bedfordshire’s status as a growth area. However, more specific issues which may change our ability to plan for a long term predictable transport scenario include:
- Changing administrative structures – both our LTPs have been conurbation-wide and have cut across District boundaries to enable the Luton/Dunstable/Houghton Regis urban area to be considered as a coherent area. We will need to consider if this approach is still appropriate for LTP3 and LTP4 given the impact of the additional housing and employment development allocated for the north Luton/Dunstable area. A Joint Planning and Transportation Committee already exists for Luton and South Bedfordshire and this may provide the basis for the way forward for LTP3 and LTP4. We also have to take account of new opportunities provided by Local Delivery Vehicles for planning and transport integration.
- Local scheme identification and delivery – we will continue working towards the delivery of the existing local schemes including Luton Northern Bypass, A421 West of M1 Improvements and Bedford Town Centre Improvements, to help deliver the growth agenda. Given the uncertainties set out in the preceding table, the process for identifying new local schemes will need to be flexible and more responsive to the changing planning context.
- Taking advantage of developments in technology – exploiting new technology can provide opportunities to influence the long term strategy. LTP objectives can be achieved through implementing real time information, urban traffic control, air quality monitoring and parking management, and we will work to integrate the appropriate technology into new and existing infrastructure.
- Taking a more holistic approach to road safety – as travel needs get more complex, we will work to move away from engineering based solutions to safety, to a more rigorous risk based assessment.
- Aiming to reduce net out commuting – 50,000 extra jobs in the county could change commuting patterns, or add to existing patterns. We will monitor these patterns and adopt a flexible and responsive approach to tackle any future problems.
- Developing a critical mass for leisure/ tourism in central Bedfordshire – we expect tourism and associated travel to increase with the possible development of Center Parcs and NIRAH (the National Institute for Research into Aquatic Habitats) in Mid Bedfordshire. While we expect the travel patterns associated with Center Parcs to have an overall minimal impact on the network, the travel patterns associated with NIRAH will be significant and unprecedented, and will be subject to monitoring.
- Protecting areas of Bedfordshire which are not allocated for long term growth – some areas of Bedfordshire (parts of Mid and North Bedfordshire) are not allocated for development, but will be subject to additional pressures from the general increase in population and development in the rest of the County. We need to ensure that travel and transport issues in these locations are considered and kept under review.
Bedfordshire in 2021 will be a busy and prosperous place. There are uncertainties to be considered, but the challenge of promoting the principles of sustainable communities, while taking advantage of our strategic location is an exciting one. A capable transport system is essential to achieve this long term vision and the objectives and strategies included in this LTP provide a strong basis for its successful delivery.