Local Plan to 2030 - Publication Draft

SECTION C - TRANSPORT

5.216 Ensuring that an effective and sustainable transport network is delivered and maintained in the borough is important in an environmental, economic and social context and is a key objective of this Local Plan. As part of its preparation, the Council have liaised with Highways England, the County Council and bus providers. Continued liaison will be needed throughout the life of the Plan to ensure that a joined up and holistic approach is achieved. 

5.217 The Council understands that private cars are and will remain an important and necessary part of everyday life in the Borough and this is reflected in car ownership levels - levels which are expected to increase over the next few years and beyond. This is particularly a factor for the Borough given its large and rural nature. Significant traffic movements are also generated by workers, either through commuting to their jobs or travelling as part of their jobs and also by those visiting the town centre to cater for their everyday retail and leisure needs. 

5.218 The future development levels as set out in the Local Plan will further add to traffic movements on the road network. This will require interventions on the strategic road network to make sure that it has capacity and the overall flow of movements is maintained and also policies to ensure that the range of small local roads and lanes that form much of the Borough's attractive rural character are protected from too much or unsuitable traffic movements. Increased levels of development also necessitate a need to deal with issues of public parking including park and ride.  

5.219 This overall approach needs to be balanced with one that also encourages alternative modes of travel wherever possible. Public transport in the form of rail and bus travel can significantly reduce carbon emissions and ease congestion on the road network, whereas cycling and walking achieves this aim with the added benefit of promoting a healthier lifestyle. 

Junction 10a

M20 Junction 10 / 10a

5.220 For many years, the availability of junction capacity at this key node on the strategic highway network has been a constraint on delivering the full potential for growth to the south and east of Ashford. The need for additional capacity was highlighted in the South of Ashford Transport Study (SATS) in 1999 with a programme of measures including an interim improvement to Junction 10 and, subsequently, a new ‘Junction 10a’ forming part of a strategic solution.

5.221 The existing M20 Junction 10 was improved in 2007 to provide some additional motorway capacity that has enabled development to be released over the last 10 years but even the upgraded junction does not have sufficient capacity to serve all committed and planned development to the end of this Plan period. Over the last decade, the Council has controlled the release of new developments in this area to ensure that the existing junction does not become at risk of over-capacity with consequent queueing back along the slip roads onto the live motorway.

5.222 This constraint has been recognised in the Core Strategy (2008) and the Urban Sites & Infrastructure DPD (2012) and has informed the Council’s approach to the allocation and phasing of development sites but it is accepted that the delivery of new junction capacity is fundamental to the realisation of the Council’s growth strategy as set out in this Local Plan.

5.223 To this end, Highways England (HE) are currently drawing up an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) for a new all-movements, grade separated motorway junction site 700 metres east of the existing Junction 10 with a link road back to the existing A2070 Bad Munstereifel Road. At the time of drafting this Plan, it is expected that the DCO will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate this summer. 

5.224 Thereafter, HE anticipates the granting of a DCO in Autumn 2017 with a start of construction to follow soon after, leading to a completion date in Spring 2019. Completion of the junction and associated link road will resolve any strategic junction capacity constraints on proposed allocations in this Plan but prior to this time, the management of development releases by the Council will need to continue.

5.225 In this respect, the Council proposes a pragmatic response based around a realistic assessment of the risk of the existing Junction 10 interchange becoming severely overloaded. It is accepted that until HE obtain a DCO for the Junction 10a scheme, there is a risk that the scheme may be delayed or even fail. Therefore, up to this point, it would not be prudent for the Council to accept the release of additional development that would add to the existing committed and proposed traffic at the junction.

5.226 However, once a DCO is granted, this should enable the works to proceed and construction of the new junction to commence. At this point, the Council considers that the risk of the junction scheme not progressing significantly reduces and should allow a limited amount of additional development to be brought forward. Initially, this will be based on the amount of committed and proposed development assumed to be accommodated by the existing Junction 10 that would not be likely to be occupied by the expected opening date of Junction 10a. It will also take into account the likely traffic generation at junction 10 given the distribution of trips on the strategic network and realistic modal split assumptions contained within individual site Transport Assessments.

5.227 This approach shall also take account of the practical likelihood of development being able to be occupied prior to the completion of Junction 10a given the presence of other infrastructure constraints, market conditions and development lead-in times in order that any available capacity is utilised by developers most able to construct and occupy. The Council will impose appropriate Grampian-style conditions on grants of planning permission for relevant sites to ensure development releases are controlled prior to the completion of Junction 10a.

Developer contributions to M20 Junction 10a

5.228 The funding package for the Junction 10a scheme includes £16m of ‘developer funding’ (of a total of c.£80m). In recent years, the Council has levied proportionate developer contributions to a package of transport-related measures in the south Ashford area through Section 106 Agreements based on SPG6 (insert title) which was most recently updated in 2004. This has included an element of funding to be used for the delivery of a future ‘Junction 10a’ scheme.

5.229 The bringing into force of the S106 pooling restrictions in the CIL Regulations in April 2014 now means that the Council cannot use Section 106 Agreements as a mechanism for levying future developer contributions for Junction 10a, so instead it is proposed that, where new developments meet the qualifying tests in SPG6, contributions based on the SPG6 formula will be levied through a Section 278 Agreement between the developer and HE.

5.230 However, once Junction 10a has been completed, the opportunity to levy contributions from new S278 Agreements will cease. At this stage, should further contributions be required to make up the £16m developer funding target, a proportion of CIL receipts from new developments will be utilised for this purpose. This scenario is likely to trigger a formal review of the Council’s CIL Charging Schedule.

5.231 In order to ensure full funding is in place in advance of delivery of the scheme, the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) has agreed to forward fund the full £16m developer contribution element on the basis that this is repaid from developer contributions over the Local Plan period.

5.232 Several strategic sites allocated in this Local Plan will be expected to make financial contributions to the delivery of the Junction 10a scheme and this is reflected in the site specific policies. The nature of the contribution will be determined by whether planning permission is granted before or after the completion of Junction 10a. 

Other strategic projects

M20 Junction 9 / Drovers roundabout

5.233 On the western side of Ashford, M20 Junction 9 provides from the motorway network to a number of strategic development sites in the town. Both Junction 9 and the nearby Drovers roundabout that provides into the town centre and to the A20 and A28 were recently upgraded in 2011 through forward funding by the HCA (SEEDA at the time) to create additional capacity to serve the proposed Chilmington urban extension to the south-west and other future development opportunities in this part of the town.

5.234 Some Section 106 Agreements have been secured for developer contributions to refund the expenditure on these improvements but there is scope for the proposed allocation at Eureka Park in this Plan to also make a proportionate financial contribution to aid this repayment. The Council will also consider whether any further significant development proposals that would rely on the capacity at Junction 9 and / or the Drovers roundabout should also make a proportionate financial contribution.

Pound Lane Link Road

5.235 The broad location of the Pound Lane Link Road is shown on the Policies Map as a new strategic, single-carriageway link road from Pound Lane to the roundabout at the entrance to the Park Farm development. The creation of this link road is critical to the full delivery of the proposed allocation at Court Lodge Farm (policy S3) but will also provide the opportunity for an additional strategic vehicular link for traffic from the Chilmington urban extension (to the west) to the A2070 trunk road and M20 Junction 10/10a.

5.236 The delivery of this link road will provide relief from existing and future traffic generation from the Chilmington development on parts of the rural road network (notably Magpie Hall Road) and existing local residential estate roads in the Knights Park and Brisley Farm areas.

5.237 The proposed Link road crosses the functional floodplain in parts and full liaison with the Environment Agency will be needed to ensure that full mitigation is delivered as part of the scheme design. The Council owns land in this area and it would be physically feasible to construct the link road on land within the Council’s ownership, although this would result in a sub-optimal scheme in terms of highway design and impact on neighbouring residents. Consequently, third party land is ideally required to deliver this scheme recognising that such land has minimal development value given its floodplain status.

5.238 The Council, in association with KCC, will seek to acquire the necessary rights to deliver the preferred route of the Link road although the option to use Compulsory Purchase powers if necessary will be entertained. As yet, there is not a fully designed and costed scheme but in principle it is proposed to fund the delivery of the scheme through a combination of site specific Section 106 or 278 Agreements and other public sector funding sources.

A28 dualling and Chart Road improvements 

5.239 The A28 dualling and Chart Road improvement scheme includes changing the A28 into two lanes of traffic each way between the to be improved 'Tank' and 'Matalan' roundabouts and will also provide for improvements to junctions on to this new strategic corridor. The scheme will cater for the development at Chilmington Green, providing for improved capacity and safety in this area and relieve congestion and journey times. 

5.240 The business case was approved at the South East Local Enterprise Partnership's board in February 2016 and Local Government Funding of £10.2 million has been approved for release. The remaining £23m funding cost of the scheme is being provided for by Kent County Council and the development consortium for Chilmington Green. The outline design is now complete with minor work being carried out on issues raised through public engagement. 

Ring road junction improvements 

5.241 In response to various current residential and commercial development proposals within the Town Centre area, a series of improvements to the junctions around the former Ring Road are needed. Kent County Council Highways are current designing these improvements and it is anticipated that developments will make proportionate contributions towards the key junctions either side of the Beaver Road bridge. This will facilitate early release of new developments that are fundamental to the growth and development of the town centre and its attractiveness as a location for new investment. 

Policy TRA1 - Strategic Transport Schemes

The Council will seek the implementation of highway and other strategic schemes that will remove serious impediments to growth and/or secure important environmental benefits. These include a new motorway junction (Junction 10a), the Pound Lane link road, the A28 dualling and Chart Road improvements and measures to improve the former Ring Road junctions.

Where development of a site includes part of an identified strategic scheme, land will be reserved for the route of facility as part of the design of the proposal. Proposals which undermine the delivery of a strategic transport scheme will not be supported.  

Public Parking Facilities Serving The Town Centre

5.242 The availability of publically available car parking has a major influence on the means of transport chosen and is also recognised as being crucial to ensuring new development is successful. The Commercial Quarter (policy S1) in particular envisages a significant amount of new office space which requires adequate parking nearby to ensure commercial terms can be achieved and space can be successfully let, at least in its initial stages. 

5.243 The Parking Study that supports this Local Plan set out the need for new town centre parking to partly replace existing car parks and partly to cater for additional demand from new development (some of which relates to development that is subject to extant planning approval). It also explored the merits of a Park and Ride Facility on the outskirts of the town. 

5.244 The Study highlighted that that the town centre currently has enough vacant car parking spaces to cater for current and future demand. However, this position was caveated in that not all of these spaces are truly available in practice as many were located on the periphery of the town centre in relatively inaccessible locations and therefore it is questionable how attractive these spaces are for short stay users. Also, a number of vacant spaces are also housed in either car parks that are privately run, meaning the Council has little control over operations, or at Edinburgh Road and Vicarage Lane Car Parks - publically owned car parks which have the potential to be suitable locations for redevelopment in the longer term but which play a key role in supporting the town centre at the current time. 

5.245 In light of the above, the Study recognised that a flexible approach to parking was needed, one which can best respond to development as it comes forward in a way that caters for both the needs of long stay and short stay users. 

Elwick Place 

5.246 Elwick Place will become a significant new retail and leisure destination in the Town Centre through the delivery of a new multi-screen cinema and hotel and a number of new restaurants. A new public car park that will provide for an additional 280 car parking spaces will also be delivered. Not only will this car park cater for the retail and leisure development at Elwick Place, it will also become a key facility that supports growth in the wider town centre and also provide flexibility in the parking stock. 

Multi Storey Car Parks 

5.247 In Ashford town centre, delivering new multi-storey car parks (MSCPs) has been a long held aspiration of the Council and it remains a valid one. New MSCPs will provide the opportunity to redevelop some of the Town Centre’s existing surface level car parks - highly accessible and sustainable brownfield sites - through the decanting of spaces to new MSCPs. In order to be successful, MSCPs generally need to be located in accessible locations near to shops and leisure facilities and in doing so tend to cater for the shorter term parking demand. They also need to be clean, attractive and provide a sense of safety for its users. 

5.248 In the Ashford Town Centre Area Action Plan (2010), land was allocated to deliver two MSCPs at Victoria Road and New Street by 2020. These were both required to meet the needs generated by significant levels of planned retail and leisure development, envisaged to come forward by 2020.   

5.249 This Local Plan is not proposing to deliver such large scale of development in the Town Centre. Nevertheless, MSCP provision is still seen as an important component of meeting parking needs in the longer term to respond to development coming forward. Although not allocated in this Local Plan, land at Victoria Road close to the pedestrian bridge over the railway lines remains a suitable and practical location for such a facility given its excellent accessibility to the core of the town centre area. Discussions are ongoing with the developers here for such provision to be secured. In addition, policy S1 of this Local Plan identifies land within the Commercial Quarter for the delivery of a new MSCP (of around 400 - 600 spaces), on land largely owned by the Council.

5.250 Although MSCPs tend to best serve short stay users, it is highly likely that they will also partially meet long stay demands, especially as new commercial development starts coming forward in the town centre, until such time that a new park and ride facility is operational which can cater for this demand in a more sustainable way. 

5.251 Should a MSCP be delivered, the Council may then wish to pursue the redevelopment of some its existing car parking stock in the Town Centre. These proposals will need to demonstrate that there is spare capacity in existing public parking stock serving the town centre, that is currently operational or which will be provided elsewhere as part of the redevelopment. This may include provision at a Park and Ride facility, particularly for the longer term spaces. 

Park and Ride 

5.252 The Council considers that Park and Ride is an important component of its longer term parking strategy, particularly to support new office development in the town centre. In light of this, a Park and Ride facility is safeguarded at Chilmington Green through the Chilmington Green Area Action Plan (not superseded by this Local Plan) and at the Warren. 

5.253 At this time, accepting that there is no Park and Ride facility serving Ashford Town Centre, evidence from the council’s discussions with the commercial office developers demonstrate an unwillingness to provide a parking solution that doesn't provide for dedicated parking spaces on-site (or nearby) as this is what the majority of potential tenants desire. This view reflects the fact that the market for new offices in the town centre is currently fragile and such schemes carry significant risks to the developers, so they need to present an attractive package to potential tenants. 

5.254 In the medium to longer term, it is anticipated that the new office sector in the town centre will thrive and in doing so become a less risky and more desirable investment for the market. In such circumstances, the values secured through the delivery of office accommodation in the town centre will rise substantially and this will result in Park and Ride becoming a more desirable and cost effective option of securing parking space to support new development. In turn this will drive demand and patronage that would financially underpin the operation of a Park & Ride service. Combined, this may allow for a more restrictive ‘on-site’ parking policy to be implemented by the Council in the town centre with a view of incentivising park and ride. This issue will be revisited as part of a formal review of this Local Plan. Given this aspiration, it is prudent for the option of a Park and Ride facility at the Warren to be maintained in this Local Plan.

5.255 In the meantime, the Council intends to use CIL receipts to help deliver both the MSCP and Park and Ride provision as set out in this section.

 

Policy TRA2 - Strategic Public Parking Facilities

 

The Council will prioritise the delivery of four strategic public parking facilities by 2030 in the form of:

  • two multi-storey car parks, at Victoria Road (indicative capacity 300 spaces) and at the Commercial Quarter (indicative capacity 400 - 600 spaces); and,
  • two Park and Ride facilities at Chilmington Green and at the Warren (indicative capacity 800 spaces). 

Proposals which would prejudice the ability to deliver these facilities on a viable basis will be refused unless it has been agreed with the Borough Council that the facility is either no longer required or the alternative provision of the same amount of parking spaces can be delivered in a suitable location. 

Residential and Non-residential Parking Standards

Residential

5.256 The NPPF allows Local Planning Authorities to set their own parking standards, providing that issues of local car ownership levels, accessibility, the nature and type of the development and the desire to reduce carbon emissions are taken into account. 

5.257 Ashford Borough is a large and diverse borough with extensive rural areas in addition to Ashford town itself which has seen significant expansion over the last decades. A single approach to the provision of car parking is not appropriate for all developments coming forward across the borough during the plan period. This 'zonal' approach to parking standards has been part of the Council's approach for a number of years since the Residential Parking and Design Guidance SPD (2010) was first produced that set out the quantum and design of parking provision in new housing development in the borough.

5.258 The approach taken in this SPD has proved useful, robust and clear for all parties and has helped to deliver adequate parking spaces to support development in a way that delivers better quality places and environments which is a key aspiration of the Local Plan. As part of the preparation of this Local Plan the Council have revisited the standards in the SPD and revised them slightly in the 'suburban' and 'rural' areas by promoting slightly higher minimum parking standards for certain types of residential uses. This is considered to better reflect market demand and car ownership levels (now and future trends). 

5.259 For the town centre area (as identified under policy SP4) - and within the central areas of larger developments - a more significant change is now proposed. Here the Local Plan now advocates a minimum parking standard of 1 space per residential unit. This standard takes account of local circumstances including car ownership data (and future assumptions), historic problems of insufficient parking facilities in central areas and ensures that sufficient parking spaces are delivered to support development in this location. 

5.260 For the avoidance of doubt, the policy below supersedes the standards set out in the 2010 SPD apart from the standards set out for visitor provision. Here the SPD standards should still be used. In addition, the design and layout guidance contained within the existing SPD remains valid and should be reflected in proposals coming forward.   

Non-residential

5.261 For non-residential development the Council has, in common with other Local Planning Authorities in Kent, relied on the advice of Kent County Council and the maximum standards contained in KCC SPG4. These standards have generally proved appropriate for this borough. However, local instances of residential areas being used as overflow car parks for adjoining employment uses are of concern. It is therefore considered important that the policies of this Local Plan do not, as far as is possible, cause a repeat of  such problems, which are, on the whole, connected with insufficient provision of parking for the operational stages of commercial developments, and the levying of charges on employee parking. In addition, the expansion of Permitted Development Rights for premises in commercial use and the impact of changes of occupiers, with resultant different staffing and operational arrangements, has exacerbated such problems.

5.262 To ensure the delivery of maximum parking provision in new non-residential developments in the borough over the Plan period, and to reduce opportunities for commercial developments to deliver fewer spaces than the maximum, Policy TRA3(b) sets the maximum standard of SPG4 as the standard for non-residential development in the borough (ie neither a maximum or a minimum). Controlled Parking Zones are also supported as an option for the Council to address specific problems with overspill commercial car parking into residential areas should these occur.

5.263 Both residential and non-residential parking standards are included within the Policy itself to provide clarity.

5.264 With all parking standards it is important to allow for flexibility in their application in order to allow for site specific issues to be taken into account. The policy below therefore provides clarification as to circumstances where departures from the proposed standards could be justified.

Policy TRA3 (a) - Parking Standards for Residential Development

 

Proposals for residential development within the town centre area identified on the Policies Map or within ‘central areas’ of larger developments shall deliver a minimum parking standard of 1 space per residential unit on average. It is expected that all of this provision should be delivered on-site.

Proposals for residential development elsewhere shall achieve the following minimum parking standards:

'SUBURBAN LOCATION'
1 BED FLAT OR HOUSE 1 SPACE PER UNIT
2 BED FLAT OR HOUSE 2 SPACES PER UNIT
3 BED DWELLING  2 SPACES PER UNIT
4 BED HOUSE 3 SPACES PER UNIT
'RURAL LOCATION'
1 BED FLAT OR HOUSE 1 SPACE PER UNIT 
2 BED FLAT OR HOUSE 2 SPACES PER UNIT
3 BED DWELLINGS 2 SPACES PER UNIT
4 BED HOUSE 3 SPACES PER UNIT

 

Parking to support residential development within the Borough shall follow the design, layout and accessibility guidance contained within the Council’s Residential Parking SPD.

 

Policy TRA3 (b) - Parking Standards for Non Residential Development

 

Proposals for non-residential developments within the Borough shall provide parking facilities to the following parking standards:

A1 Food retail up to 1,000m2

1 space per 18m2

A1 Food retail of 1,000 m2 and over

1 space per 14m2

A1 Non-food retail

1 space per 25m2

A2 use class

1 space per 20m2

A3 use class

1 space per 6m2*

A4 use class

1 space per 10m2*

A5 use class

1 space per 8m2*

B1 office use (up to 500m2)

1 space per 20m2

B1 office use (up to 2,500m2)

1 space per 25m2

B1 office use (2,500m2 and over)

1 space per 30m2

B1 High tech/ research/light industrial.

1 space per 35m2

B2 use class

1 space per 50m2

B8 Storage and distribution

1 space per 110m2

B8 Wholesale Trade

1 space per 35m2

Hotels

1 space per bedroom

*These use classes are also required to deliver 1 space per 2 staff in addition to the standard set out above.

All floorspace references in this table refer to gross external floorspace.

In exceptional cases, the Council may require proposals to depart from the standards in policies TRA3 (a) or TRA3 (b) if any of the following apply:-

  1. A bespoke parking standard is included as part of site specific policy within this Local Plan that seeks to take into account specific local circumstances in that area;
  2. In order to take account of specific local circumstances that may require a higher or lower level of parking provision, including as a result of the development site's accessibility to public transport, shops and services, highway safety concerns and local on-street parking problems;
  3. Where an operator or potential occupier requires either more or less parking spaces to cater for their specific operational needs, such requirements can be clearly evidenced and where their presence has wider planning benefits,
  4. Where the proposed use can reasonably rely on the availability of public off-street car parking spaces that are nearby;
  5. To ensure the successful restoration, refurbishment and re-use of listed buildings or buildings affecting the character of a conservation area;
  6. To allow the appropriate re-use of the upper floors of buildings in town centres or above shop units;
  7. Should independently verified viability evidence demonstrate that achieving the minimum parking standard identified would render the scheme unviable and that there are overriding planning benefits to justify that the development should proceed.

Where appropriate, the Council will pursue the use of Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) to support the wider strategy for the management of on-street parking, in line with the approach outlined in this policy. 

 

Bus provision

5.265 Providing a frequent, fast and high quality bus service can greatly improve bus patronage and in turn provide a viable service. In the past the Council - in liaison with the County Council and bus operators - has been successful in levering funds from the developers to support local bus provision. 

5.266 In the urban area, the bus service is relatively frequent and efficient, connecting the outskirts of the town with the town centre. However enhancements will be necessary to this network to ensure that it continues to offer a realistic alternative to private car trips where possible. Particular enhancements will be targeted towards key projects in and around Ashford town centre or on the key radial routes into the town centre, as this remains the key destination of the local bus network and where investment should therefore be prioritised. 

5.267 In the rural area, the bus service is less frequent which reflects both its size and nature but also the difficulties in providing a viable service here. However this provision provides a vital service for many residents in the rural area who do not have access to a car. Therefore, proportionate enhancements should be secured to deliver the most sustainable service possible in this location. 

5.268 The enhancements needed will be determined in agreement with the County Council and bus operators and will be secured either through S106 contributions, where they relate to more localised projects, or site specific enhancements, or CIL monies where they relate to more strategic enhancements. The scale and timing of any contribution will be agreed between the relevant parties with a view of ensuring that the attractiveness of the bus service is maximised where possible.  

5.269 The enhancements that will be sought could include the delivery of bus priority measures, the provision of new or alteration/expansion of existing routes and services, contributions towards bus-related infrastructure and operational subsidy for the service in the early years of a development.

5.270 The Infrastructure Plan that supports this Local Plan identifies bus priority measures necessary to deliver better access for bus services to the town centre. However, it is recognised that as new schemes come forward over the Plan period, new projects will be identified in order to ensure that a sustainable bus network in the Borough is maintained, as far as is practical. S106 contributions will be secured to help deliver these projects as appropriate.

 

 

Policy TRA4 - Promoting the local bus network

The Council, in liaison with the County Council, will seek enhancements to the local bus network in order to meet the additional demands created by new development as it comes forward. These enhancements could include the delivery of bus priority measures, the provision of a new service or the alteration/expansion of an existing service, contributions towards bus-related infrastructure and operational subsidy for the service in the early years of occupation of the development. 

Where S106 contributions are sought, their scale and timing shall be agreed by the borough and county council following consultation with relevant bus operators, prior to the granting of planning permission. 

 

 

Pedestrians

5.271 The ease with which people can move in and around places is an important part of promoting non-car based travel and also supporting local shops and services. This can give a place a sense of vibrancy and establish its character. Delivering safe and accessible pedestrian routes within new developments and between new developments and existing facilities is also important for people's wellbeing, their and promoting healthy lifestyles. 

5.272 More strategic pedestrian routes including the use of existing public rights of way should be retained where possible and the opportunities to deliver better linkages around Ashford and from the periphery to the town centre will be explored.

 

Policy TRA5 - Planning for Pedestrians
Development proposals shall demonstrate how safe and accessible pedestrian access and movement routes will be delivered and how they will connect to the wider movement network. 

Cycling

5.273 The Council is committed to increasing cycle usage in the borough as a sustainable means of transport that also contributes to healthier lifestyles.

5.274 Ashford has a well developed network of cycleways that run through the town that have been delivered over recent years many of which link to the quiet rural lanes around the town and in the rest of the borough that are suitable for cycling. In addition, sections of off-road cycleway have been provided in the rural area, notably at Godmersham to Chilham and in Tenterden. Recent monitoring indicates that the use of the routes for cycling in the Ashford urban area has increased significantly, particularly as a means to access the domestic and international railway stations.

5.275 The network has been delivered principally via the following means:

  • National Cycle Route 18 has been designated and runs through the urban area and links with the wider county wide strategic cycleway network
  • The green corridor network in the urban area provides a comprehensive, primarily riverside, set of cycleway routes that converge in the town centre and provide a direct access to the railway stations. The long-standing green corridor policy has helped to deliver improvements to the cycleway network through the delivery of specific green corridor projects and via the requirement that developments adjoining the green corridor being required to make a contribution to improvements within the green corridor;
  • The Council's Cycling Strategy was approved in 2011 and sets out a series of network improvements projects to be delivered over the lifetime of the Strategy. the Council is committed to reviewing and revising that Strategy;
  • New developments have been required to deliver cycleways within the development areas and to make links to the wider network in the town;
  • Substantial improved cycle parking provision has been provided at the Ashford domestic railway station 

 

Policy TRA6 - Provision for Cycling

The Council will seek to improve conditions for cyclists through the following measures:- 

  • Promoting and developing a Borough-wide network of cycle routes;
  • Developments should, where opportunities arise, include safe, convenient and attractively designed cycle routes, including, where possible, connection to the Borough-wide cycle network. 
  • Promoting and providing cycle parking facilities in town centres, at railway stations and at major public buildings, and requiring new development to provide cycle parking facilities in agreement with the Council;  

 

Impact on the local road network

5.276 The roads within the Borough can be classified as follows:

  • Primary routes: These roads form the primary network for the Borough as a whole. All long distance vehicle movements between the main settlements in the Borough and beyond the Borough should be targeted towards these routes as they have the most capacity and have been designed to accommodate proportionately more traffic movements than other routes. 
  • Secondary routes: These roads distribute traffic within residential and commercial areas of the Borough's settlements and include many rural roads which link some of the smaller settlements to the primary network. Much of the borough is made up of these routes which greatly contribute to its attractive and rural character.  
  • Local distributors: These roads distribute traffic within neighbourhoods. The form the link between secondary distributors and access roads. 
  • Access roads: These road give direct access to buildings and land within neighbourhood.

5.277 Within the context of the NPPF and its desire to deliver sustainable development, most of the traffic generated by development should be targeted towards the primary and secondary route network in the borough. Other routes should not be subject to inappropriate levels of traffic generation or unsuitable traffic movements.  

Policy TRA7 - The Road Network and Development

 

Developments that would generate significant traffic movements must be well related to the primary and secondary road network and this should have adequate capacity to accommodate the development. New accesses and intensified use of existing accesses onto the primary or secondary road network will not be permitted if a materially risk of road traffic accidents or significant traffic delays would be likely to result. 

In rural area, proposals which would generate levels and types of traffic movements, including heavy goods vehicle traffic, beyond that which the rural roads could reasonably accommodate in terms of capacity and road safety will not be permitted.  

Assessing transport needs

5.278 Travel plans, assessments and statements are all ways of assessing and mitigating the negative transport impacts of development in order to ensure that sustainable development is delivered. 

5.279 The Planning Practice Guidance effectively sets out that there is a hierarchy of evidence that is needed to support a planning application, depending on its scale and likely transport impact. Transport Statements should be used where development has a limited transport impact. Transport Assessment should be used where more impact is likely and that mitigation measures are probably needed. Travel Plans are required when long term management strategies are needed to deal with significant transport impact. For development that has no significant transport impact in that they don't generate significant amounts of movement then no statement, assessment or plan is required.

5.280 Where appropriate, the Council will liaise with the relevant transport authorities in relation to what sort of evaluation is needed when a planning application is submitted. Should a proposal fall within a designated neighbourhood plan area then liaison with the relevant neighbourhood body will also take place. 

 

Policy TRA8 - Travel Plans, Assessments and Statements

Planning applications will be supported by either a Transport Statement, a Transport Assessment or a Travel Plan depending on the nature and scale of the proposal and the level of significant transport movements generated. Where appropriate, the Council will liaise with the relevant authority in relation to what sort of evidence is required.  

 

The approach to Heavy Goods Vehicles

5.281 The Borough lies in a strategic position in the South East of England and the town of Ashford lies at the confluence of key railway routes and the main highway route to the Channel Tunnel and Dover - the busiest ferry port in the UK. This, combined with the increase of more distribution reliant industries means that the movement of lorries will increase over the plan period. 

5.282 In response the Local Plan provides a policy framework to cater for this increase in movements so they can be suitably planned for, where those issues are relevant to planning and where the Council remain the determining authority for planning applications. Specifically, this Local Plan allocates provision for a doubling in size of the existing overnight lorry park at Waterbrook (policyS15) to around 600 spaces.  

5.283 Otherwise, proposals that generate significant HGV parking shall be expected to take into account the location, the nature of the proposed use and the impact on the local road network. Proposals will need to be supported by evidence which can demonstrate that the: 

  • scheme provides HGV parking to at least meet the Highway Authority's adopted standards (currently in KCC SPG4  - Kent Vehicle Parking Standards (July 2006). These should be provided on-site or in any communal HGV parking area. Parking on the public highway will not be regarded as a means of meeting HGV parking standards; 
  • size of the site is large enough to cater for the HGV movements envisaged, including space for loading and unloading and adequate turning circles on site so that the public highway is not needed to serve these functions as this can lead to unnecessary congestion and safety issues; 
  • movement and operations of any HGVs is limited to suitable times;

5.284 The Council will liaise with the relevant highway authority to ensure that the measures put in place at the planning application stage are adhered to. Where needed, the Council will use its enforcement powers should there be any breach of planning permission.  

Policy TRA9 - Planning for HGV movement

Proposals which generate significant heavy goods vehicle (HGV) movements will only be supported where the use is acceptable in planning terms, and:-

  1. sufficient HGV parking spaces are provided in a way that is consistent with the Highways Authority's adopted standards and where possible exceeded, unless exceptional circumstances dictate a departure from these standards in line with policy TRA3(b) above;
  2. the size and layout of the site is sufficient to accommodate HGV movements and parking in a way that does not lead to the public highway being used for either purpose; and,
  3. HGV movements are limited to appropriate times of operation given the context of the site.