Following the implementation of social distancing measures in response to the Covid-19 public health emergency, as from 16th March 2020 traffic and transport surveys are no longer considered to be representative of normal conditions. RGP understands that the inability to conduct new traffic surveys may impact transport assessment work being undertaken in support of new planning applications and subsequently set out our response herein.
RGP has contacted Transport for London (TfL), Highways England (HE) and a number of other local highway authorities (LHA) from shire counties in order to establish what forms of traffic data would be acceptable to allow transport planning work to continue for future applications. A summary of responses RGP has received thus far is set out in the table below.
RGP would be happy to confirm with any particular LHA on your behalf to avoid any abortive work.
In order to obtain historic survey data, RGP has a network of traffic data suppliers we can enquire with regarding recent relevant data for any site that we can then modify to allow future applications to progress.
London Boroughs and TfL
It is understood that most London boroughs are still accepting Lambeth Parking beat surveys in relation to residential schemes.
TfL has stated that site visits are no longer requested or recommended however, Healthy Streets Transport Assessments can still be prepared with the aid of online tools such as Google Maps.
In terms of traffic surveys, TfL is happy to discuss and consider alternative approaches to data analysis, including use of historic surveys or other appropriate benchmarking data e.g. from similar previous applications.
Road Safety Audits
Within London, Road Safety Audits can continue to be undertaken using online tools subject to agreement with TfL.
In terms of the strategic highway network, Highways England have stated that for Stage 1 and Stage 2 Road Safety Audits during the pandemic that site visit requirements are relaxed. Audit teams may choose to use online mapping, Building Information Modelling (BIM), or other similar tools to assist with the process.
This week the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government called upon Local Planning Authorities to be pragmatic and continue to work proactively with applicants. The Government has also confirmed that it shall introduce legislation to allow council committee meetings to be held virtually for a temporary period.
RGP agrees with the notion that with the utilisation of modern technology and a flexible and pragmatic attitude the planning system can continue business as usual. It is also anticipated that as central Government takes the lead over the coming weeks, Local Highway Authorities will be further encouraged to take a pragmatic view, by stepping in to line with regard to the acceptance of surveys to allow the planning process to proceed.
If you would like to discuss any transport matters associated with a current or upcoming project or have any questions or queries with regard to the above, please feel free to contact us and RGP will be more than happy to assist.