East Suffolk Council - Suffolk Coastal Local Plan (Adopted September 2020)

7 Transport

7.1 The Suffolk Coastal Local Plan area has a mixture of urban and rural settlements with limited public transport opportunities in certain parts of the plan area which places a heavy reliance on the private motor car as a form of transport to conduct day-to-day business. Many local roads are single track and unsuitable for conventional public transport and the lack of alternatives increases the use of the private motor car across the plan area. For those residents and visitors close to a range of facilities a bicycle may offer an alternative or additional transport option but this is limited.

7.2 As a result of this, the Local Plan seeks to acknowledge that sustainable transport opportunities are limited and appropriate provision for vehicle parking is required alongside developments and to maintain the viability and vibrancy of the area's town centres, visitor locations and wider communities. The Local Plan outlines strategic ambitions in respect of transport and highways infrastructure in Chapters 2 and 3. Policies in this chapter relate to local and site specific transport issues.

7.3 The Council has prepared a parking strategy and policies as part of Civil Parking Enforcement to be introduced across the District in April 2020. The Parking Plan details the Council's approach to parking management and enforcement, and the Local Plan helps to deliver the objectives through appropriate parking provision and sustainable transport as part of new developments.

Sustainable Transport

7.4 Many areas do not have access to convenient public transport and many local roads are single track and unsuitable for conventional public transport such as buses. This is reflected by the level of household vehicle ownership in the plan area which amounts to 86% compared to a national average of 74% (Census, 2011). Furthermore, approximately 44% of people in the plan area use a car as their primary mode of travel to work compared to a national average of 37% (Census, 2011).

7.5 In order to mitigate the cumulative impacts of growth in the Ipswich Strategic Planning Area on junctions and roads in and around Ipswich, and to promote healthy travel options, a package of transport measures has been identified to reduce vehicle movements. They include:

  • Transport infrastructure to encourage and support sustainable modes of transport
  • A Bus Quality Partnership
  • A Smarter Choices programme
  • Review of car parking and pricing strategies
  • Review of park and ride strategy
  • Junction improvements

Sustainable transport measures will therefore be expected to promote and deliver modal shift in a manner consistent with local strategies.

7.6 The Suffolk Local Transport Plan 2011-2031 sets out priorities to support the growth of businesses, reducing demand for car travel, making efficient use of transport networks and improving infrastructure. The County Council's Rights of Way Improvement Plan complements the Local Transport Plan by identifying changes that will secure an improved network, contributing to its four shared priorities of reducing congestion, accessibility, air quality and safety. In consideration of this, Policy SCLP7.1 encourages and facilitates the use of sustainable transport options where possible, and supports the efficient use of existing transport networks.

7.7 In designing and assessing development proposals, the Public Rights of Way Network should be considered as a means of encouraging physical activity, providing access to the natural environment, supporting tourism, reducing travel by vehicular modes, reducing carbon emissions and (where relevant) aiding recreational avoidance of sensitive sites.

7.8 Travel Plans are required by the National Planning Policy Framework for all new developments that create significant amounts of movement. The purpose of a Travel Plan is to set out measures to facilitate sustainable forms of travel and reduce the use of the private car. This will help to leave a lighter footprint on the environment by enhancing sustainability and will ultimately create better places to live - an action of the Government's 25 year Environment Plan. It is not necessarily the size of the development that triggers the need for such a plan but more the nature of the use.

7.9 The Council will work in partnership with Suffolk County Council as they draft new guidance for Travel Plans. When published the new guidance will be considered by the Council and adopted for use as a material planning consideration if appropriate.

7.10 Travel planning can offer good practice for meeting the requirements set out in this policy for maximising sustainable transport even on sites that do meet the thresholds for a full travel plan.

Policy SCLP7.1: Sustainable Transport

Development proposals should be designed from the outset to incorporate measures that will encourage people to travel using non-car modes to access home, school, employment, services and facilities.

Development will be supported where:

a. Any significant impacts on the highways network are mitigated;

b. It is proportionate in scale to the existing transport network;

c. All available opportunities to enable and support travel on foot, by cycle or public transport have been considered and taken;

d. It is located close to, and provides safe pedestrian and cycle access to services and facilities;

e. It is well integrated into and enhances the existing cycle network including the safe design and layout of new cycle routes and provision of covered, secure cycle parking;

f. It is well integrated into, protects and enhances the existing pedestrian routes and the public rights of way network;

g. It reduces conflict between users of the transport network including pedestrians, cyclists, users of mobility vehicles and drivers and does not reduce road safety; and

h. The cumulative impact of new development will not create severe impacts on the existing transport network.

Development will be expected to contribute to the delivery of local sustainable transport strategies for managing the cumulative impacts of growth.

Opportunities to improve provision of or access to public transport, in rural and urban areas will be supported.

Proposals for new development that would have significant transport implications should be accompanied by a Travel Plan. A Travel Plan will be required for proposals for:

 i. New large scale employment sites;

 j. Residential development of 80 or more dwellings; and

 k. A development that when considered cumulatively with other developments, is likely to have a severe impact on the local community or road network.

In consultation with the Highway Authority, the scale, location and nature of development will be considered in determining how the transport impacts of development should be assessed. As indicative thresholds a Transport Statement will be required for development of 50 -80 dwellings and a Transport Assessment and Travel Plan will be required for developments of over 80 dwellings. Non residential development will be considered on a case by case basis dependent on the volume of movements anticipated with the use proposed.

Vehicle Parking

7.11 The reliance on the car as a primary form of transport in the plan area necessitates the need for provision of adequate, reasonably priced car parking to maintain the viability and vibrancy of town and district centres, as well as resorts and other areas popular with tourists across the plan area.

7.12 Transport and logistics form a very significant part of the local economy. To support the specific needs of this sector, the Council will work with relevant organisations such as Highways England and Suffolk County Council to ensure that needs such as stopping places are provided. Vehicle parking is an important tool for visitor management particularly in relation to tourism across the plan area. The provision of off-street visitor parking, (including multi storey) particularly where it applies to tourism and town centres, will be supported in appropriate locations.

7.13 Some people, either self employed, or as a condition of their employment, are required to take their work vehicle (such as a van or recovery vehicle) home with them. Modern vehicles tend to be bigger than the size of residential garages and parking spaces which means that these are not always suitable or available for parking. Where possible, the Council will encourage larger residential garages and parking spaces in new and renovated residential development to help address this.

7.14 Many modern vehicles are being manufactured with the aim of decreasing carbon emissions. This has led to the increase of low-emission vehicles as a usable and reliable form of transport. Although the concept of low-emission vehicles has been promoted and embraced in urban areas (such as town centre locations, supermarkets or places of work), rural areas have not seen a similar level of uptake. Notwithstanding this, the National Planning Policy Framework promotes the facilitation of low-emission vehicles. Over the plan period, it is anticipated that technological advances could lead to a wider uptake of such vehicles and the Council will support and encourage the facilitation of low-emission vehicles and their ancillary infrastructure needs, such as:

  • Passive electric charging (capacity in the connection to the local electricity distribution network and electricity distribution board, as well as cabling to parking spaces).
  • Active electric charging (fully installed and ready-to-use charging points):
    • Rapid charging hubs (22-50kw charging power)
    • On-street electric charging (7kw charging power)
    • Off-street electric charging (3kw charging power)

7.15 The level of charging supplied should reflect the standards set out for electric vehicle charging in the 2019 Suffolk Guidance for Parking (or subsequent revisions). However, higher levels of charging power will be supported, if considered appropriate and desirable. Technological advances throughout the lifetime of the plan may require a flexible approach to be taken when considering low-emission vehicles and charging points in developments.

Parking Proposals and Standards

7.16 The level of parking provision required can be influenced by the location of new development, accessibility to public transport, provision for cyclists and the availability of public and on-street parking. The Local Plan recognises that improvements to public transport can reduce the requirement for parking provision, and have a beneficial impact on 'anti-social' parking, particularly with respect to commuter vehicles. The Local Plan will therefore support all improvements in public transport and sustainable travel options that have a positive impact on existing problems of parking provision and congestion at key 'pinch points'.

7.17 When considering proposals for parking, in order to reduce potential for surface water flooding and for the protection of water quality, sustainable drainage systems should be implemented (SuDS) with permeable surface materials48.

7.18 As local highways authority, Suffolk County Council published the current 'Suffolk Guidance for Parking' in 2019. The document provides details in respect of vehicle parking standards to be implemented across the county subject to local considerations. Residential standards in the County Council document are presented as minimums and the Local Plan will seek to ensure appropriate parking does not proliferate the parking issues faced by many communities. The visual impact of parking will be considered against relevant policies of this Local Plan including Policies SCLP10.4 and SCLP11.1. The parking standards contained in the Suffolk Guidance for Parking, and any subsequent revisions, should be considered as the principle starting point for development proposals involving parking. Development proposals involving parking that are unable to apply the guidance should provide evidence justifying why the guidance is not applicable to the proposal.

Policy SCLP7.2: Parking Proposals and Standards

The Council will work with partners to ensure that vehicle parking provision is protected and managed to support the economy and sustainable communities. The level of parking provision required will depend on the location, type and intensity of use. Proposals that minimise congestion, encourage sustainable transport modes and reduce conflict between road users across the plan area will be supported.

Proposals involving vehicle parking will be supported where they take opportunities to make efficient use of land and they include:

  1. The provision of safe, secure, and convenient off-street parking of an appropriate size and quantity including addressing the need for parking or secure storage for cars, cycles and motorcycles, and where relevant, coaches and lorries;
  2. Opportunities to reduce the recognised problem of anti-social parking or potential problems that may arise which impacts the quality of life or vitality of an area for residents and visitors;
  3. Appropriate provision for vehicle charging points and ancillary infrastructure associated with the increased use of low emission vehicles; and
  4. The incorporation of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), permeable surfacing materials and means of protecting water quality in drainage schemes should be ensured.

Where proposals involve public transport improvements or re-developments, the Council will encourage the provision of Park & Ride facilities, if appropriate.

Proposals will be expected to have regard to the parking standards contained in the Suffolk Guidance for Parking (including subsequent revisions), excluding the elements of the Guidance related to 'Residential Parking Design', unless other local planning considerations indicate otherwise. Proposals should also accord with both the East Suffolk Area Parking Plan and the Suffolk Parking Management Strategy, or Neighbourhood Plans for the area where applicable.

48 Examples of such can be found in the CIRIA SuDS Manual which details examples of best practice in this regard.