Active Travel England has announced that it will be consulted on all large planning applications as a statutory consultee. This will see them helping to deliver walking, wheeling, and cycling infrastructure on all future large developments.
A large development has been defined as developments that are equal to, or exceeding, 150 housing units, 7,500 metres squared of floorspace, or an area of five hectares. Now that ATE is a statutory consultee, they will be reviewing around 3,100 applications per year which is the equivalent of 60% of new homes.
Good active travel design will be central to the role, with it helping to improve public health, save money, and reduce harmful emissions. Examples of how this can be done includes connectivity to schools and local amenities through improved walking, wheeling, and cycling routes. By involving active travel at the planning stage, big increases in vehicle traffic and the need for costly upgrades to major road junctions are reduced, alongside other corrective action in the future.
Chris Boardman, Active Travel England, said:
“Active travel is essential to improving public health, reducing emissions, and tackling the cost-of-living crisis. That’s why we’re working to ensure millions of people have the opportunity to walk, wheel or cycle from their doorstep to where they need to be.
“Designing activity back into our neighbourhoods and creating places where children have transport independence is achievable – it just needs smart planning.
“As a statutory consultee ATE will work with planning authorities and developers to help them ensure new estates give people what they need to get fresh air and exercise, save money on petrol and help fight climate change.”
The decision to establish Active Travel England as a statutory consultee came following a pilot project in which ATE worked alongside 30 local authorities in the nine-month period up to November 2022. During the pilot project, more than 60 developments were assessed, and feedback saw 80% of respondents agreeing that ATE should have a role in the planning system.
Despite ATE being consulted on developments at the thresholds outlines above, it won’t have the statutory powers to direct the outcome of planning applications. To ensure that the thresholds as a consultee have been set at an appropriate level, ATE have been working alongside the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
In the next edition of the Public Sector Executive Podcast we spoke to Cllr Harrison Allman Varty, one of the youngest Tory councillors in Britain. In this exclusive preview clip, he talks about his views on planning: