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9 / TRANSPORT

TRANSPORT POLICIES

Policy T1 Strategic road network

Policy T2 Local transportation network improvements

Policy T3 Strategic routes in the rural area

Policy T4 Reducing highway impact

Policy T5 Motorists’ facilities

Policy T6 Public transport infrastructure

Policy T7 Developer contributions for public transport measures

Policy T8 Rail network

Policy T9 Rail services

Policy T10 Access to rail services and stations

Policy T11 Rail freight links

Policy T12 River boat services

Policy T13 Pedestrian Routes

Policy T14 Cycle routes

Policy T15 Parking

Policy T17 Park & Ride facilities and town centre parking

Policy T18 Commercial vehicle park

Policy T19 Coach parking

Policy T20 Safety and traffic calming

Policy T21 Accessibility for less mobile people

INTRODUCTION

9.1 An effective transport system is vital both for the national and local economy. In Bedford a balanced transportation strategy is important to maintain and improve mobility within and through the Borough. The absence of a fully effective transport network contributes to Bedford's lack of competitive edge in attracting and retaining investment and detracts from the amenity of the Borough.

9.2 The location and nature of development affects the pattern, volume and modes of travel. Bedford's present road system is largely a product of its historic development pattern. By planning land use and transportation patterns in a more integrated approach, the need to travel can be reduced and a more effective transport system can be achieved compatible with the aims of sustainability. The Council aims to; obtain more efficient links with the national road network; reduce congestion within its urban areas; optimise accessibility to the town centre; reduce the need to travel; and, promote more efficient travel through the use of public transport, cycling and walking and more effective interchange between modes.

9.3 Responsibility for the road system is divided between:

– the Department for Transport which is responsible for trunk roads;

– the County Council which is responsible for all other roads and supporting public transport services. One of its responsibilities is to produce the Local Transport Plan (LTP) that sets out the overall policy framework for transport policy and forms the basis of bids for Central Government funds;

– the Borough Council is responsible for roads in Bedford, Kempston, and in the parishes of Biddenham, Clapham and Elstow where it acts as the agent for the County Council. It also has an advisory role in the maintenance of public transport services and has invested in Park and Ride and other services;

– A wide range of other organisations also have responsibility for transport in the area including the Strategic Rail Authority, Traffic Commissioner and others.

9.4 For the Bedford/Kempston urban area, the Borough Council has jointly produced with the County Council a package of transport proposals to meet the Borough's needs over the next 10 to 20 years. The Bedford Integrated Transport Strategy (ITS) has been adopted to meet these needs by comprehensive and sustainable means. A review to roll forward and update this strategy was commenced early in 1998 and is ongoing.

9.5 Building roads to meet forecast levels of demand is no longer environmentally acceptable. More weight will be placed on policies that manage demand by encouraging land use patterns designed to reduce the number and length of journeys and promote more fuel-efficient modes. This is consistent with both the Government’s White Paper ‘A New Deal For Transport: Better For Everyone’ July 1998 and the County Structure Plan 2011 which puts emphasis on new development within and adjoining the existing urban areas and in strategic corridors. A more effective road pattern will be developed to deliver traffic to its destinations efficiently with minimum delay and congestion. This will be achieved by addressing key issues in the Plan.

KEY ISSUES

9.6 This chapter addresses the following:

  1. The provision of a sustainable transport network which encourages the minimal use of non-renewable resources and minimises impact on the environment.

  2. The development of a strategic network linking Bedford effectively to the national road system.

  3. The reduction in traffic movements and peak hour congestion to optimise accessibility.

  4. The implementation of highway schemes to carry traffic efficiently through and about the Borough integrated with non-car modes of transport.

  5. Appropriate levels of parking provision.

  6. The location of development especially large traffic generators in areas highly accessible by means other than the private car.

  7. The use of public transport including park and ride and bus priority schemes.

  8. The improvement of rail services including Inter City, commuter and local services, and the provision of Parkway stations.

  9. The implementation of traffic management schemes.

  10. Access and mobility for cyclists, pedestrians and disabled people.

9.6a In 2001, after the Local Plan Inquiry closed, the Government re-issued PPG13: Transport. Broadly speaking the revised PPG seeks better integration between land use planning and transportation issues. It refers to the Transport Act 2000 which provides the statutory basis for a number of measures outlined in the 1998 White Paper and to the Government’s publication ‘Transport 2010: The 10 year plan’. The Government’s aim is to achieve a modern integrated high quality transport system. The following policies aim to achieve the same by addressing the key issues above.

ROAD NETWORK

9.7 The road network in the Borough is fundamentally a radial one with seven major routes focusing on the town centre. Following the White Paper ‘A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone’ (July 1998) the A428 has been detrunked and the A6 will be detrunked in due course. Responsibility for these will pass to the Local Highway Authorities. The A421 has been identified as part of the core network of trunk roads. The opening of the Southern Bypass trunk road scheme in September 1996 linked four of these routes to the south and east of the town helping to relieve some of the congestion caused by through traffic. With only three in-town crossing points, the River Ouse divides the town and creates a barrier to movement within Bedford and Kempston.

9.8 The main road network is outlined on Figure 19. There is a need for additional highways in terms of bypasses and distributor roads. These will provide greater opportunities for the further development of other modes of travel such as cycling, walking and public transport via for example dedicated bus lanes. Provision for horses will also be encouraged at appropriate locations to reduce the potential conflict between horse riders and other users on roads, bridleways and at crossing points. In order to reduce congestion and work towards sustainability it is essential to encourage a transfer from the car to other transport modes without generating new conflicts. Bedford's Adopted Integrated Transport Strategy embodies these aims.

BEDFORD BYPASSES

9.9 The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions in its publication ‘A New Deal For Trunk Roads in England’ published 31 July 1998 has reviewed the road programme against criteria of accessibility, safety, economy, integration and environment. The programme comprises 37 schemes throughout the country which will start within the next seven years, although no information on priority order or anticipated completion dates is given. Schemes within the Borough include:

– the A6 Clapham Bypass – 5km to dual carriageway standard costed at £31m, completed December 2002.

– the A421 Great Barford Bypass – 7.5km to dual carriageway standard costed at £25m. Draft Orders have been published. Public Inquiry held January/February 2003.

– The A6 Bedford Western Bypass A428/A421 link is included in the road programme as a development led project. As a first phase a single carriageway scheme is currently being promoted by a partnership of Bedfordshire County Council and the private sector. The scheme is an essential part of the Bedford Integrated Transport Strategy and is given a high local priority as it will reduce traffic congestion in the urban area and increase the benefit of the southern bypass. The A6/A428 link of the Western Bypass is considered an essential part of the Bedford Integrated Transport Strategy to increase the benefit of both the southern bypass and the A421/A428 link in assisting reducing congestion in the urban area. The former DoT chose an outer alignment for the Western Bypass in preference to an inner route which went through Queens Park, and progress has subsequently been made on developing a suitable route and a means of financing it.

9.10 The planned Norse Road Link which was proposed to join the Southern Bypass with the Norse Road/A428 Roundabout with the aim of reducing the amount of traffic in the town centre by taking traffic from the north and east onto the bypass has been removed from the Government’s Trunk Road programme and there is now little likelihood of this scheme being progressed.

POLICY T1
The Borough Council will continue to press for improvements to the strategic road network within the Borough and jointly review the Bedford Integrated Transport Strategy. The Borough Council will protect safeguarded highway lines. Where necessary and appropriate it will seek developer contributions/planning obligations towards the provision of necessary highway infrastructure.

OTHER ROAD SCHEMES

9.13 The Borough and County Council have prepared the Bedford Transport Development Plan (BTDP). The main aim of this is to establish a more robust network in the urban areas reducing vehicle traffic flows and creating sufficient road space on existing roads to enable improvements to be made for public transport, cyclists and pedestrians. The Plan consists of two main schemes:

– the St John’s Area Relief Scheme

– the Prebend Street Area Relief Scheme

9.14 However finance from both Government grants and developer contributions is extremely unlikely to be forthcoming and the BTDP as envisaged is unlikely to remain as policy. The route for both these phases is safeguarded until policy has been fully reviewed and further information on the east west rail link has been incorporated into the decision making process.

9.15 The Borough Council supports the following schemes:

– Dallas Road link: This would enable traffic from College Street Industrial Estate Kempston, to gain direct access to Bedford Road so removing industrial traffic from Spring Road where there is a conflict between industrial and residential traffic and a sub-standard junction. The LTP seeks funding for the Phase 3 B531 Bedford – Kempston improvements which include a possible first phase of the Dallas Road – College Street Link.

– Ford End Road link: This would provide a link to Charles Wells Brewery in Queens Park, enhancing the local residential environment by re-routing industrial traffic. Private funding would be required for this scheme as it is not currently included in the LTP.

9.16 The Borough Council will seek developer contributions where appropriate towards the implementation of necessary road schemes.

POLICY T2
The Borough Council will seek improvements to the local transportation network as shown on the Proposals Map, and will work with the County Council for enhanced funding provisions for Bedford, and seek developer contributions/ planning obligations to achieve improvements to the local network.

9.17 As Trunk Road schemes around Bedford are implemented and through traffic is diverted, it is important that the status of trunk roads within the urban area be reconsidered. The early detrunking of the A6 for example would remove an obstacle to further Town Centre improvements. The Government’s ‘New Deal For Trunk Roads’ proposed the detrunking of the A6 between Luton and Leicester and the A428 between Bedford and Northampton. The A428 and the southern section of the A6 are now detrunked and the benefit is more effective management of the local road network.

ROAD SCHEMES IN THE RURAL AREA

9.20 Although not programmed by the DETR, the dualling of the A421 between Bedford and the borough boundary (a core trunk road) is a high priority since it facilitates development within the strategic corridor.

POLICY T3
The Borough Council will continue to press for increased priority and the early implementation of schemes for the improvement of the strategic road network in the rural areas and will protect safeguarded and identified road lines.

9.21 Since the National Road Review 1995, the A1(M) Improvement Scheme between Alconbury and Baldock has been dropped, apart from the more modest improvement of the A1 at Tempsford which remains in the current programme on safety criteria.

HIGHWAY IMPACT

9.22 In both urban and rural areas, new roads can have considerable visual impact and they can become a source of noise nuisance. Opportunities should be taken during the design stage to mitigate against these two problems. The provision of landscaping will not only improve the appearance of new roads but will also help to reduce the effects of traffic generated pollution in local and global terms. Efforts should be made to preserve existing trees. Policy BE42 refers to the impact of light pollution which is an increasing cause of concern.

9.23 Where proposed roads are expected to generate high levels of noise it should be demonstrated that there will be no adverse effects on sensitive developments such as residential areas, schools, hospitals, listed buildings, SSSIs and other sensitive rural areas. Reference should be made to the relevant Government guidance, including PPG24 Planning and Noise.

POLICY T4
The Borough Council will seek the provision of landscape screening appropriate to the scale of proposed roads and the preservation of existing trees, and will expect noise impact to be no higher than levels stipulated in Government guidance. Particular attention will be paid to sensitive areas or developments such as housing, schools, institutions and similar uses.

MOTORISTS’ FACILITIES

9.24 The location of Bedford, on a major route linking the M1 to the west and the A1 to the east, provides an opportunity to provide a strategically located motorists’ facility. In view of its central location and the physical characteristics of the area, an outline planning permission has been granted for a motorists’ facility at a site in the south-west quadrant of the A6/A421 junction between the Bypass and the Elstow Landfill Site (see also Policy T18 concerning lorry parking at this site). A site at the junction of the Southern Bypass with the A603 may also provide a suitable location on the strategic road network for a motorists’ facility, gaining benefit from provision in association with the proposed park and ride scheme.

9.25 Any proposals for the development of such a facility on this site or elsewhere will be judged against the following policy:

POLICY T5
The Borough Council will support the provision of a site for motorists’ facilities on the Bedford Southern Bypass at its junction with the A603 in association with the proposed park & ride scheme and will determine any planning applications for the development of such facilities against the following criteria:
i) the safety and convenience of the proposed access arrangements;
ii) the effect of the proposals on the environment;
iii) the impact of the proposal on residential amenities;
iv) the degree of need;
v) the quality of the proposed design and landscaping; and,
vi) the availability and locational benefit of the identified sites.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

BUSES

9.26 Public transport is an important element in the pursuit of sustainable development. By encouraging people away

from using private cars to using buses, congestion, fuel consumption and emissions are reduced.

9.27 The Borough and County Councils are committed to improving public transport facilities within the Borough. In terms of non-commercially operated bus services provision is determined by the available resources for subsidies set against a list of guidelines for rural and urban areas. Integration of different elements of public transport will be encouraged to increase the attractiveness and effectiveness of different modes.

9.28 An integral part of the development of Pilgrim Square will be the reprovision of a bus interchange catering for increased bus movements (see Policy SH4).

9.29 In order to secure the sustainable benefits of public transport and accessibility in the context of the Borough Council’s wider highway and parking policies, consideration will be given to the amount of traffic that new development is likely to attract or generate. Where this is considerable, or where the benefits of securing the greater use of buses would be worthwhile, the Council will use planning conditions or seek legal agreements for the provision of public transport infrastructure, including dedicated facilities such as bus ways, traffic signal priority, and park & ride. Proposed developments that are well situated to take advantage of public transport will receive favourable consideration. The objective is to provide all significant new development with public transport services.

POLICY T6
The Borough Council will support the improvement and provision of public transport infrastructure. Where possible the Borough Council will seek to ensure that new developments, particularly housing and employment uses, have infrastructure suitable for public transport including dedicated facilities from an early stage of occupation, and that existing public transport corridors are safeguarded.

9.30 The 1985 Transport Act removed the obligation for operators to provide services for social needs which were not considered viable. The overall effect of the Act has been to accelerate the modal transfer from bus to car, particularly in rural areas. Bus services and facilities will therefore have to be enhanced to levels which will attract car users onto buses. This demands the best operating environment for buses.

9.31 Low cost priority measures can yield large benefits. Bus lanes, for example, give buses an advantage over other traffic thereby reducing journey times. These combined with park and ride facilities can create an attractive alternative to the car. Where appropriate, developer contributions/planning obligations will be sought for the implementation of such schemes. The Integrated Transport Strategy identifies the location of these public transport facilities. Where possible other opportunities will be taken to implement similar facilities elsewhere. The Borough Council will also seek contributions to the revenue support of public transport in order to assist the achievement of more sustainable development. All contributions sought will reflect current national advice on planning obligations which, at the time of adoption of this plan, include the limitation of contributions to revenue support to the short term, and with a maximum cost.

POLICY T7
Where necessary and appropriate, the Borough Council will seek developer contributions/planning obligations for both the capital implementation costs of bus priority measures, busways, park and ride facilities and other similar measures, and the revenue costs of funding for public transport including the revenue support of services in order to assist the achievement of sustainable development.

RAIL

9.32 The provision of quick and frequent rail services to Bedford add to the town's attractiveness in economic and social terms. Further electrification is vital if stronger regional links are to be developed. This will increase opportunities for improving Inter-City and Thameslink Express services to and from Bedford.

9.33 The Thameslink 2000 proposals will improve journey times to London and to a wider range of through destinations south of the Thames. The Local Authorities will continue to promote this scheme via a joint public/private consortium as the proposals are regarded as being vital to the successful economic development of the town.

POLICY T8
The Borough Council will continue to promote Bedford as an important station on the national rail network by seeking the:
i) maintenance and enhancement of Inter-City services;
ii) maintenance and enhancement of Thameslink services;
iii) improvement of existing cross country services and development of new links; and,
iv) improvement of facilities at Bedford Midland Station.

9.34 In the context of the County Council’s strategic corridors designated in the Structure Plan 2011, the Borough Council wishes to see further investment in infrastructure in both the Leicester to London and Marston Vale lines, particularly the electrification north of Bedford, the extension of services to Milton Keynes and an increased number of trains stopping at Bedford. The retention of services on the Marston Vale line is considered to be a priority by the Borough Council. Improved car parking facilities together with integration with bus and taxi services are seen as essential to the viability of services on both these lines. The continued commitment to rail borne land-fill waste stated in the Bedfordshire Adopted Minerals and Waste Local Plan will help to safeguard the Marston Vale line for both freight and passenger purposes.

9.35 The Borough Council is a member of the consortium promoting the concept of an east-west rail route linking Felixstowe – Ipswich/Norwich – Cambridge – Letchworth – Bedford – Milton Keynes – Aylesbury – Oxford – Swindon and thence to west coast routes. The preliminary studies have indicated that such a route is viable and offers potential for both passenger and freight traffic providing opportunities for more sustainable development with greater accessibility to public transport. The proposed route utilises primarily existing sections of track, however three possible alignments in the vicinity of Bedford are currently being appraised. Any land use allocations relating to an east west rail route are therefore considered premature prior to a decision on the route.

POLICY T9
The Borough Council will encourage improved rail services to and from Bedford, the improvement of the Marston Vale line including improved parking provision, and the electrification of the route north of Bedford.

9.36 Parkway stations could offer the potential to reduce peak hour traffic congestion in the town and ease parking near Midland station. This is recognised by the Bedford Integrated Transport Strategy, but in the absence of strong operator interest, such proposals must remain a longer term objective. The Borough Council has previously sought the provision of new stations both to the north and to the south of Bedford.

9.37 A parkway station to the north of Bedford could not be implemented within this Local Plan period as such a project would require disproportionate funding to extend Thameslink services, as well as large scale enabling development contrary to the Structure Plan 2011. For this reason the proposal shown in the 1993 Borough Local Plan has not been carried forward. However the proposal will retain the support of the Borough Council and remains a long term aim.

9.38 The site for the southern parkway station was identified in the Cow Bridge area by the 1993 Local Plan and the Land West of Elstow Bypass Development Brief. This proposal has also been reviewed in the context of the Structure Plan 2011 which indicates a strategic allocation of 4,500 dwellings focused on Elstow Storage Depot. A key principle of such a development at Elstow Storage Depot is the provision of a new station on the Bedford to London line (see Policy H14). Since two new stations south of Bedford are not feasible and the proposal at Elstow Storage Depot would be in association with large scale enabling development, the proposal for a parkway station in the Cow Bridge area has not been carried forward into this Local Plan. It should be noted that the other elements of the Land West of Elstow Bypass Development Brief are incorporated as key development principles (see Policy E3). Integration with any east-west rail route development is to be encouraged.

POLICY T10
The Borough Council will encourage improved access to rail services and support the construction of new stations where these are consistent with the other policies of this plan and contribute to the review of the Bedford Integrated Transport Strategy.

FREIGHT

9.39 Wherever possible, goods especially bulky materials, should be carried by rail rather than by road to reduce the number of heavy goods vehicles on the road as they have a significant adverse environmental impact compared to rail. The Council will encourage more use of the railways where this is a viable alternative and developments using rail links will be encouraged. The use of the Bedford to Bletchley line for bulk waste transportation will be supported particularly in the context of landfill activities at L Field and Rookery South close to Stewartby.

POLICY T11
The Council will give favourable consideration to developments which will make use of direct links to the rail network for the movement of freight provided the proposals are not contrary to any other policies of this Plan.

RIVER TRANSPORT

9.40 The Great Ouse flowing through the centre of the Borough's urban area presents the opportunity to exploit a natural communications link. The Council will look favourably on proposals to provide and support river boat services to supplement road provision.

POLICY T12
The Borough Council will seek to encourage proposals that provide for river boat services.

PEDESTRIANS AND CYCLISTS

9.41 Progress has been made in the Borough towards the provision of facilities for both cyclists and pedestrians. Work so far has included riverside walkways, pedestrianised shopping streets, traffic calming measures and the creation of a network of cycleways. The pursuit of sustainability provides support for extending pedestrian and cycling facilities. To encourage greater use of walking and cycling as a means of travel, pleasant routes free of motor vehicles should be created allowing movements to take place efficiently and safely. Routes should be designed to limit crime by incorporating natural surveillance and by being open and well lit wherever possible.

9.42 In providing for both groups the Borough Council will consider the need for a range of facilities such as cycle parking stands, seating, lighting, safe and convenient crossings. They will seek to ensure there is adequate funding for maintenance. In some instances the Council may require the provision of such facilities to be funded from developments.

PEDESTRIANS

9.43 Efforts will be directed at making areas and developments safer and more attractive to pedestrians, with options including traffic calming, environmental improvements, improved lighting, provision of wider pavements/narrower carriageways, facilities for disabled people, and pedestrian friendly crossings which avoid long detours, delays or underpasses. In general, pedestrian routes should not be detached from the roadway or other activity area as such isolation can encourage crime. However in some cases, (such as along the river or the disused railway to Willington) this is not always possible.

9.44 The integration of all aspects of the transportation system means that measures such as the reduction of traffic speed, or vehicle restricted areas can further raise the profile of pedestrian activity as an alternative to the car for short journeys. In combination with other environmental enhancement measures, the urban area can be made both more attractive and pedestrian friendly.

9.45 The Council has for many years sought to extend public access to the riverside – both in town and in the rural area. Wherever possible there is a need to establish a series of circular routes and in this respect, it is important that a number of new river crossings is created for both pedestrian and cycle users. In appropriate cases, pedestrian routes and facilities which are accessible for all, will be required in association with new development by planning conditions or obligations.

POLICY T13
The Borough Council will require the protection, enhancement and promotion of pedestrian routes and facilities including those shown on the Proposals Map, and seek the provision of new pedestrian routes and facilities which are safe, convenient and attractive, particularly in association with major developments and transportation proposals, including new river crossings at Church End Kempston (in association with the new distributor road); at Honeyhills/ Hillgrounds; adjacent to Britannia Ironworks; at Batts Ford and in the vicinity of Fenlake Meadows/Priory Park.

CYCLISTS

9.46 While cycling plays an important part in the transport patterns of the town the levels of cycle usage is well below its potential. Since 1979 cycle routes have been steadily introduced and proposals which will lead to a more integrated network are already well developed. As mentioned in paragraph 9.45, routes along the Great Ouse are to be extended in the urban area.

9.47 An integrated network is essential in encouraging cycle use and reducing accident rates among cyclists. Factors such as safe crossing provision at junctions, good maintenance, good connections with destinations, secure parking and segregation from pedestrians and vehicles where conflict could arise, are all important considerations, particularly for new developments. The Borough and County Councils support the development of the SUSTRANS route through the Borough from Marston Moretaine through Kempston, along the Embankment towards Sandy as part of the National Cycling Network.

9.48 The emphasis should be on the improvement of the cycling environment to encourage greater use. There is a need for ‘calmed’ areas, with safe links to the town centre and other destinations. Safe and secure facilities should be provided for parking, particularly in large housing or employment developments, town centres, education related development, leisure facilities and at public transport interchanges. Planned routes will be protected from development.

9.49 The routes shown on the Proposals Map show key proposals to encourage cycling. The wider context of the routes identified in the Borough’s cycling strategy map is shown on the Figure 20. The aim is to create a series of radial routes converging on the town centre, linked by cross town routes, to create an effective local and longer distance network for cyclists. As with pedestrian provision, the issue of isolation requires consideration, as does the resolution of potential conflict with other users. In appropriate cases, routes and facilities for cyclists will be required in association with new development possibly as planning gain.

9.49a A conflict has however arisen between pedestrians and cyclists in the town centre. In 1997 cycling was prohibited in certain streets with limited access only afforded to reach cycle stands. A study is underway to investigate ways of providing safe access for cyclists into the town centre and at the same time provide safe passage for pedestrians within the pedestrian area.

POLICY T14
The Borough Council will require the protection, enhancement and promotion of cycle routes and facilities including those shown on the Proposals Map, and seek the provision of new routes and facilities for cyclists which are safe, convenient and attractive, particularly in association with major development and transportation proposals. River crossings will include provision for cyclists where appropriate.

PARKING

9.49b The revised PPG13 considers the role of car parking as a major factor in determining means of travel, particularly to work, and the control of parking is seen to be essential as part of a package of measures aimed at promoting sustainable travel choices. The importance of the regional context is identified, addressing the need to avoid wasteful competition between locations on the issue of parking availability and cost. This should be addressed in the first instance in a Regional Transport Plan. Similarly well conceived park and ride schemes are supported in principle. The following local plan policies are broadly in line with the thrust of new guidance, though the detail of PPG13 will be a material consideration when determining planning applications.

9.50 Parking policies are important in terms of securing more sustainable forms of development, encouraging the use and provision of public transport, and supporting vitality and viability of town centres. Parked cars can also dominate townspace and raise urban design issues. The Local Plan considers parking in the context of government guidance, the Bedford Integrated Transport Strategy and other initiatives. It is concerned both with parking that is provided in association with proposed development (which is subject to land use planning controls) and to some extent with parking that is regarded to be a public amenity for example on-street and in the Council’s car parks (which is subject to management policies).

PRIVATE OFF-STREET PARKING

9.51 The Borough Council's adopted car parking standards for new development seek to balance the need to discourage reliance on cars for commuting and other journeys where there are effective alternatives, with the need to selectively restrict on-street parking and prevent congestion. The Borough’s adopted parking standards relate generally to a maximum level of parking provision. Each case will be determined on its own merits and the advice in PPG6 and PPG13 on operational minimum amounts of parking will be taken into account. Examples of where such operational minimum amounts of parking could be considered are with residential provision in the town centre, for student accommodation and for Housing Association developments where lower levels of car usage can be demonstrated.

9.52 In certain instances it may not be possible or desirable to provide a high level of on-site parking. Increasing parking places ad infinitum will lead to greater traffic congestion and would be contrary to the principles of sustainability. In addition there are circumstances where a particular scale of car parking provision would be inconsistent with the ‘local’ nature of proposed uses. In areas where public transport is available or could be made available consideration will be given to the payment of ‘commuted sums’ for the supply of off-site parking. Alternatively, contributions may be sought for measures to assist walking, cycling or public transport provision.

POLICY T15
In considering development proposals, the Borough Council will have regard to the Supplementary Planning Guidance on parking standards and seek to negotiate where appropriate commuted payments for off-site provision, eg. infrastructure provision for park and ride services, other public transport provision, pedestrian and cycling facilities.

PUBLIC ON AND OFF-STREET PARKING

9.53 Within the urban area and in the town centre in particular, the scope for an integrated approach to transport is increased through the ability to manage the availability and price of on-street and public off-street car parking. In the town centre, the policy is to ensure ample high quality short stay car parking for shoppers and others visiting the centre, rather than catering for the long stay parking of commuters and employees. In addition there are operational needs such as space for deliveries and picking up and setting down of passengers.

9.54 The Borough and the County Councils are in agreement on implementing both a Special Parking Area (SPA) covering the Bedford/Kempston urban area and a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) covering central Bedford. The CPZ was introduced in Autumn 2000 and already the effect is better management of on-street parking spaces. The CPZ is still in its early stages and ‘fine tuning’ will be an on-going process in response to changing circumstances.

9.55 Extending the provision of town centre parking spaces, particularly for long stay users is not an option in terms of cost and environmental disbenefits. Current long stay facilities in the central area will be insufficient to cater for the future needs of commuters as pressures increase. To prevent long stay parking intruding into residential areas, future needs will increasingly be met by the provision of park & ride facilities and improved public transport together with management of on-street parking.

PARK & RIDE

9.56 Key peripheral locations for park & ride will therefore be developed to encourage the change of mode from car to bus, particularly for car journeys from beyond the urban area. The Bedford Integrated Transport Strategy identifies the general location of proposed park & ride facilities and provision was made in the 1999/2000 TPP bid for funding park and ride provision at Cardington Cross and a supporting bus lane scheme on Cardington Road. The proposal map identifies this and three other sites for proposed park and ride facilities at Clapham, Biddenham and Elstow.

9.57 Park & ride car parks will be developed to a high standard of design, including security measures, to make them attractive to potential users. In appropriate cases, the Borough Council will seek developer contributions to provide park & ride facilities and services and may consider the introduction of commercial facilities.

POLICY T17
The Council will seek the provision of high quality car parking facilities
i) in the town centre for shoppers and other short stay users, and
ii) at park and ride sites indicated on the Proposals Map for long term users. Where possible the provision of such facilities will be in association with public transport priority measures and busways. In appropriate cases, developer funding will be sought for the cost of park and ride facilities and services.

PARKING FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLES

9.58 In recent years there has been a general increase in heavy goods vehicle traffic in Bedfordshire, concentrated on motorways and trunk routes. Bedford's strategic location between the A1 and M1 makes commercial vehicle parking in Bedford an important issue.

9.59 Within the industry the trend is towards bigger vehicles and for haulage routes to become longer as 'just in time' deliveries become more common place. While provision must be made for such vehicles to access residential/commercial and retail centres, the size, weight and noise of such vehicles is incompatible with many roads. Consideration will therefore be given to width and/or height restrictions, HGV routing and controls on loading and unloading.

9.60 Such vehicles require overnight stopping facilities. Companies require a safe, secure stopping place, preferably with food and washing facilities. The shortage of suitable places gives rise to many complaints from residents about overnight parking of commercial vehicles.

9.61 Currently, provision is made at Melbourne Street for lorry parking, and while the standard of the park is high, there are limited facilities for drivers. It may also represent a sub-optimal use of the site (see also Policy S2 and Appendix D Opportunity Site 10). Following the opening of the Southern Bypass the impact of lorries travelling from the main trunk road to use the existing site will become more apparent. The Borough Council will therefore give full consideration to finding an alternative location for the lorry parking. The Council will require provision of facilities for lorries in association with the development of the proposed motorists’ facility discussed above in Policy T5 as advised in PPG13.

POLICY T18
Development of facilities for commercial vehicle parking will be required in conjunction with Policy T5 for a motorists facility on the Bedford Southern Bypass at its junctions with the A6 and the A603. Elsewhere, the Borough Council will determine any planning applications for the development of such facilities against all of the following criteria:
i) the impact of the proposal on residential amenity;
ii) the safety and convenience of the proposed access arrangement;
iii) the effect of the proposals on the environment;
iv) the quality of the proposed design and landscaping, and level of facilities provided;
v) the degree of need; and,
vi) a location in close proximity to the strategic network.

COACH PARKING

9.62 Visitors coming to Bedford by coach are using a form of transport that is both sustainable and efficient in its use of road space. Tourists and other coach users provide Bedford with a valued source of income. Coaches are generally parked on wide roads with little through traffic (for example, De Parys Avenue and The Embankment). Two parking areas have been provided by the Council in Bushmead Avenue and Castle Lane. Further sites and direction signs will be required to encourage a greater number of visitors to use coaches when visiting Bedford.

POLICY T19
The Borough Council will seek the provision of coach parking facilities and identify safe and convenient locations for the collecting and dropping-off passengers. Where necessary and appropriate developer contributions may be sought toward such provision.

SAFETY AND TRAFFIC CALMING

9.63 Many existing roads are capable of being 'calmed' but the treatment must be appropriate to the position of the road within the highway hierarchy. The objective of traffic calming in residential areas is to discourage through traffic and reduce traffic speeds and volumes. Whenever highway improvement or development schemes are undertaken the opportunity of introducing traffic calming measures should be considered. Minor traffic management schemes will improve both safety and traffic flow and a programme of minor road improvements has been identified. Relevant policies relate to on-street parking, pedestrian and cycle facilities and the use of bus priority measures.

9.64 Traffic calming measures have the potential for merely transferring traffic to adjacent streets. Priority of schemes has been set which will be implemented as resources permit. In many cases, traffic calming can be carried out in conjunction with environmental enhancement schemes such as landscaping. This will improve the quality of the environment and encourage walking and cycling as a means of transport. Good schemes will also reduce community severance and improve driver behaviour.

9.65 The Borough and County Councils have identified areas where traffic calming is considered a priority. These areas appear in the ITS and are incorporated into works programmes as resources permit. Further areas will be identified during the Plan period. Priority will be given to high accident areas, areas near shopping streets and schools, and in areas where pedestrian movement is greatest, or where there is high incidence of other vulnerable groups.

9.66 Road safety can be designed into all new projects and the Borough Council has adopted supplementary planning guidance on Traffic Calming. Planning proposals will be expected to accord with this guidance.

9.67 Where measures are required, developers will be required to carry out an analysis of safety features necessary and submit this with their planning application. Developer funding will be required for proposals where necessary although the detailed standards and safety audit of proposals are matters for agreement with the Highway Authority in each case.

POLICY T20
Development will only be permitted where the Borough Council is satisfied that the proposal takes full account of the Borough Council’s supplementary planning guidance on Traffic Calming and covers all necessary safety considerations. Where necessary and appropriate developer funding will be sought for the capital implementation costs of safety features.

ACCESS

9.68 Wherever possible, opportunities will be pursued for improving travel opportunities for people who are less mobile. When people’s mobility is reduced it is likely to have a serious impact on the quality of life of individuals. The Borough Council’s supplementary planning guidance: Achieving Quality in Residential Layouts gives advice on providing infrastructure within the layout of new residential layouts to facilitate improved accessibility for less mobile people.

9.69 The Borough Council will consider the issues surrounding access for disabled persons in a number of ways including design matters and public transport. Design measures may incorporate the use of suitable parking, appropriate setting down and collection points for buses and taxis, the layout and type of footpaths (including textured surfaces), crossings, pedestrianised areas and street furniture, signing, dropped kerbs, lighting, and wheelchair accessible toilet facilities. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 enables the government to make regulations, known as accessibility regulations, to require that all new public transport vehicles – buses, coaches, trains and trams – are accessible. The government will also be able to make accessibility regulations covering all newly licensed taxis. The Borough Council will seek the design and provision of infrastructure to integrate with these vehicles.

POLICY T21
The Borough Council will, where appropriate, require all new development to make provision for or contribute to improving accessibility on public transport, footpaths, roads and other public areas for disabled persons.

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