Under the cover of darkness in late October 2014 the March 2007 edition of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Guidance on Transport Assessment (GTA) was laid to rest. Without any replacement document, and no formal announcement from the DfT it is unclear what has prompted the sudden removal of the guidance. The only remaining guidance is ‘Transport Evidence Bases in Plan Making’ which is specifically targeted to Local Plan / Core Strategy level of assessment and hence is of limited benefit to project specific Transport Assessments and Travel Plans.
With no formal guidance from the DfT and only a few highway authorities having their own guidance in place with thresholds defining when a full Transport Assessment or Transport Statement is required, it is apparent that the scope of work for any application is in the balance. At RGP we have always endeavoured to streamline the scope of works necessary for all our transport reports to be appropriate to the development being considered, often involving in-depth assessment of just the one or two main issues relating to a specific project.
We have generally successfully gained agreement from Local Highway Authorities (LHA) to a sensible scope of work, often during planning application negotiations, instead of needing pre-application advice. However, with the withdrawal of the GTA it is considered that it would be more difficult to agree this more streamlined approach at a late stage. Instead the expectation is that LHA’s will further encourage Developers to use the LHA’s pre-application service prior to submission of a planning application.
In RGP’s experience pre-application advice from LHA has been in some cases expensive and in other cases of limited benefit, however it appears that it is now an essential part of the process which is being encouraged still further. Our clients should therefore be more aware that it could result in additional time and expenditure.
We therefore reiterate our advice to all of our clients to consult with RGP at an early stage to ensure a smoother route through the transport planning aspects of any planning application. Let’s hope that LHAs embrace their increased role with improved resourcing and efficiencies.