Encouraging and delivering active travel locally

Source: PSE Jun/Jul 16

Paul Hilton, senior project officer, infrastructure development at Sustrans, explains how the second round of the Sustainable Transport Delivery Excellence Programme is aiming to support sustainable transport solutions that enable increased levels of active travel across the country.

With growth deals in their second year alongside a variety of other investment programmes, the Department for Transport (DfT) has invested £500,000 to support Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) through the Sustainable Transport Delivery Excellence Programme. 

Last year the programme, which is supported by a Sustrans-led delivery consortium, provided support and advice to LEPs on the design and delivery of transport solutions that enable increased levels of active travel. 

During Round 1 of the programme, the scheme supported 28 LEPs in total. Paul Hilton, senior project officer, infrastructure development at Sustrans, said: “A large proportion of the requests, 72% of LEPs engaged with the programme, asked for help developing the economic case for developing sustainable transport schemes.” 

Hilton added that the first year’s work concentrated very much on providing advice and support on the design and development of cycling and walking schemes. “We don’t deliver the schemes for LEPs. It is about the advice and design of delivery, rather than the delivery itself. For me, the prize would be that more walking and cycling schemes are being funded through the local growth fund.” 

Now in year two, the programme has so far received expressions of interest from 36 LEPs. Hilton added that Round 2 will focus support on developing area-wide strategies and action plans for increasing active travel. 

Additionally, the programme partners will provide support on design, development and management of high-quality on- and off-road infrastructure for cycling, walking and public transport, including access to Enterprise Zones, committed and pipeline schemes. 

There is also advice available on developing ‘supporting’ revenue interventions to maximise behaviour change from capital investment and enabling people to choose to make short journeys on foot or by bike rather than by car, and longer journeys by bus, tram or train. 

“It is a similar mix around permitted schemes and pipeline schemes, which people want support for funding,” said Hilton. “You have a pile of schemes coming in from local authorities, so which of those are the priorities for LEPs to fund?” He added that a rating system has now been developed to support LEPs in their decision-making for projects. 


There is also an additional element to this year’s programme, said Hilton: “We have taken some of the grant to work on the development of toolkits.”

While being in the early days of the process, the toolkits are likely to focus around three areas of support: the economic case, a clear ask from Round 1 and in Round 2; making connections with public health; and housing growth.

Asked why the programme has been successful with LEPs, Hilton said: “I think it is the recognition for the need to have sustainable transport as part of a key plan for local economic growth. 

“I think that is something which is recognised by the LEPs. The problem that they seem to have had is getting it into their plans, and getting it into the strategic economic plans and valuing those schemes.” 

He added that the consortium of delivery partners, which includes Living Streets, are trying to deliver an holistic approach to the support to ensure all the LEP needs are met. Following the extra investment for the programme by the DfT, we asked if there would be further rounds going forward. 

“That would be for the funder to answer,” said Hilton. “My feeling, though, is that there is a desire to keep this going, and there is a desire from the LEPs.”

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