Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Stage

1. North Somerset Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Document

Transport

What are the main transport issues facing North Somerset to 2036?


There are many transport issues and challenges facing the district and wider West of England area over the plan period until 2036. A Joint Transport Study (JTS) was undertaken to accompany the Joint Spatial Plan and recommend how to address both current transport challenges and the forecasted growth set out in the JSP. The findings and recommendations included in the JTS were advisory; and a
Joint Local Transport Plan is currently being prepared that takes account of these findings, builds upon them and formalises the work that was previously carried out.

Some of the transport issues facing North Somerset include:

  • Growth in housing and employment: The proposed growth in the JSP presents the challenge of having to mitigate for increasing demand on the transport network but is also an opportunity to attract funding and start reversing the historic under-investment in transport to implement improvements that tackle existing issues and create more resilient and
    attractive places to live and work.
  • Congestion: Congestion is currently costing the West of England area an estimated £300m a year, forecast to rise to £500m in 2026 and £800m by 2036 unless significant action is taken. There are heavy flows on roads connecting towns and high car use in rural areas reflects the limited travel choices. Local areas experience significant challenges when there are issues on the Strategic Road Network, such as when the M5 is closed due to incidents and traffic is diverted onto local roads. This causes widespread congestion and long traffic delays due to a lack of suitable alternative routes.
  • Encouraging public transport use: Whilst the number of passengers has increased public transport use is low compared to other regions; only one in ten people travel to work in this way and rail represents only 2% of total work trips in the West of England.
  • Public Health issues: Car dependency leading to inactive lifestyles and poor air quality as a result of congested roads are two major factors impacting on public health.
  • Climate change: Road transport is one of the largest sources of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions, which are contributing to climate change. This, in turn, is impacting on the resilience and standard of the transport network.
  • Shift in behaviour: Travel patterns are changing more than they have in decades. During the past 40 years there has been a gradual decline in the number of trips per person, with a 6% reduction since 2007. Fewer journeys are being made per person for commuting, business and shopping. The huge rise in internet shopping, more flexible working patterns and use of telecommunications software for meetings are some of the reasons for our changing mobility patterns.
  • Transport revolution: We may be at the tipping point of a revolution in transport as emerging technologies and innovation (including ‘driverless’ vehicles and smartphone capability assisting in providing multi-modal, seamless journeys) will change how we choose to travel in future.
  • Regeneration of our towns: Progress has already been made on town centre generation with transport improvements a key enabler. What transport measures are needed to continue supporting Weston-super-Mare and the emerging visions for the other main towns?
  • Port and Airport: The accessibility and growth of international and regional gateways is linked with economic growth and delivering an improved transport system will be key to unlocking that growth.
  • Employment locations and regional growth corridors: The Strategic Road Network (SRN) is vital to economic success and so the challenge will be maintaining both its function and access to it from the local network (see HE research https://www.gov.uk/guidance/highways-englandsupporting-growth).
  • Strategic connections and resilience: Within the local road network certain routes have strategic national importance such as the A38 corridor and there are B roads that provide critical links for freight and commercial transport. The resilience of these corridors needs to be improved as development and growth pressures from airport expansion, housing development and business growth increase transport demands.
  • Tourism: Transporting tourists into and around North Somerset can be a challenge alongside daily commuter movements but certain transport improvements if done well can help to create a different and more varied offer, for example, coastal path, strategic routes, cycle hire and other quality facility offers.

How will the Local Plan address these challenges?

  • Identify schemes that support tourism such as the coastal cycle routes which can become tourist attractions in their own right, along with schemes to improve or create new routes to connect and penetrate existing tourism hotspots. A number of major schemes (schemes costing over £10m which are unaffordable from existing, regular funding sources) have also been identified which play a
    critical role in supporting delivery of the Joint Spatial Plan. The technical work for these schemes is being progressed alongside the policy provision through the Joint Local Transport Plan. The key components of the transport vision include:
  • Tackle congestion, by focussing on offering greater travel choice. This will include making walking and cycling (‘active modes of travel’) the natural choice for shorter journey’s through the provision of safe, attractive useable networks.
  • Encourage public transport use by providing realistic and attractive alternatives to the private car through continuing to improve the local bus and rail networks. Community transport services and dial-a-ride have role in connecting rural communities. Consideration of bus/coach parking and depot space locations to ensure resilience and mitigation of Hinkley impacts.
  • Improve air quality and respond to climate change. The switch to electric vehicles and the reduced need to own vehicles will see gradual reductions in levels of nitrogen dioxide, particulates and carbon dioxide. Policies which require Electric Vehicle Charging Points and car clubs in new developments will support this approach. Cleaner public transport policies could also be considered.
  • Support new technologies: Technological advances and innovation will have a role to play in how we use transport in the future. Changes could offer benefits including reduced road collisions, more reliable journeys, improved air quality, reduced travel costs, better informed journey decision making, and returning highway space back to people. We will work with developers and providers to progress and embrace advances where they can bring benefits to North Somerset.
  •  Identify schemes that support tourism such as the coastal cycle routes which can become tourist attractions in their own right, along with schemes to improve or create new routes to connect and penetrate existing tourism hotspots.

A number of major schemes (schemes costing over £10m which are unaffordable from existing, regular funding sources) have also been identified which play a critical role in supporting delivery of the Joint Spatial Plan. The technical work for these schemes is being progressed alongside the policy provision through the Joint Local Transport Plan. The key components of the transport vision include:

  • Behaviour change
  • Strategic cycle routes
  • Bus network
  • Metrobus
  • Mass transit
  • Park and ride
  • Rail
  • Road network

Transport options for the strategic development locations in North Somerset
Options have been identified to mitigate the strategic impacts on the transport network of the new housing proposed in the Strategic Development Locations at Nailsea, Backwell, Banwell and Churchill. These options are discussed in Section
4 of this plan.

Rail
Policies will be needed to continue to safeguard and further develop the delivery of major rail schemes such as re-establishing passenger services to Portishead, the provision of rail access to the airport and linked improvements to infrastructure at other stations in the district.

The Bristol South West Economic Link Transport Study (BSWEL)
The BSWEL transport study is focussed along the A38 corridor from Bristol to Somerset and across to the M5 via the A368/A371. Taking on board existing road and rail network resilience issues and understanding the region’s ambitions in Airport expansion, housing development and business growth the study is considering a step change in network intervention, namely;

  • Strategic Road connection between the M5 at a new junction 21A and Langford;
  • Road improvements along the A38 between Langford and Bristol Airport;
  • Strategic Road connection between the Airport and South Bristol with the ability to accommodate Mass Transit;
  • Mass transit opportunities between Weston-super-Mare, Bristol Airport and Bristol connecting into the existing rail network.

Park and ride – south Bristol
Options are being considered for a proposed park and ride facility with up to 550 spaces to serve the A38 on the southern side of Bristol. Four potential sites are located around the A38/South Bristol Link roundabout. Further details of these options can be found in the, Joint Spatial Plan – Emerging Findings of Transport Technical Studies, which it is anticipated, will be published on the West of England and North Somerset websites in November 2018. The proposals form part of a wider strategic ring of park and ride sites. These options will be
progressed through the Joint Local Transport Plan.

Weston-super-Mare
The Urban Living allocations in the JSP include an additional 1,000 dwellings in Weston-super-Mare, which on top of existing allocations for the ‘Weston villages’ (5,800 dwellings) which will result in increased traffic flows and congestion in the town. The aim of the transport programme is to mitigate the impacts of the additional developments through encouraging use of public transport within Weston-super-Mare, and intercepting car trips into the town at a park and ride site, improving the bus network and developing proposals for a metrobus route.

How will the transport objectives be delivered?
The North Somerset Local Plan 2036 and the Joint Local Transport Plan will be complimentary documents that will set the policy context to deliver their shared objectives. Funding for transport schemes is likely to be through a combination of developer contributions and central government grants. By working together with West of England partners including Bristol Airport and others we will make a clearer and stronger case for reversing the historical under-investment in transport in this region and secure the infrastructure needed for a thriving economy and places where people want to live.

Question 39:

Are there any other transport issues or challenges that have been missed? How can they be addressed in the Local Plan?