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Almost all new developments require Planning Permission from the Local Planning Authority (LPA – the local council) before any construction works can commence.
As part of the process of obtaining planning permission, the Local Highway Authority (LHA) is a Statutory Consultee to the planning application and, depending on the scale of the development, will expect to see an appropriate level of assessment examining the highways and transportation issues related to the proposed development.
For example, a development of a single dwelling that re-uses an existing access onto the highway is unlikely to need any form of highways assessment. A development of 50 dwellings is likely to need a Transport Statement or intermediate level of assessment and a development of 100 dwellings or more would typically require a full Transport Assessment along with a Travel Plan.
A Transport Assessment is a comprehensive report that identifies the highways and transport issues relating to a development proposal, looking at mitigation measures (if required) and considers the relationship of the development to current planning policy guidance. Less intensive developments can be supported by Transport Statement which is a simplified form of transport assessment.
A Travel Plan is a living document that aims to reduce car travel by promoting and encouraging sustainable forms of transport such as walking, cycling and public transport. Travel Plans can be produced during the planning application stage, to satisfy a planning condition or as part of a BREEAM assessment.
These thresholds of development scale are not strict – a development of a single dwelling that proposed a new access would require a transport planners input should the highways officers have any safety concerns with the access. A typical example is inadequate visibility splays onto the highway. A larger development on the site of an existing development which could lawfully generate similar levels of traffic may not require much, if anything in the way of a formal highways assessment.
As part of any transport assessment consideration should be given to the impact of a development in transport terms in relation to its effect on highway safety and capacity, illustrating compliance with – or departures from standards, along with ensuring the development complies with relevant local and national planning policy guidance.
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