Planning Portal

Transport Assessment
The Transport Assessment Process: Methods for Implementing and Monitoring Measures Identified by a Transport Assessment

Implementing measures

The key to implementation is to make sure that those actions and measures, which are described as being part of the proposed development, are properly specified when planning permission is granted. On-site infrastructure proposals should be clearly shown on the plans and drawings accompanying the planning application.  Other measures and actions, for example bus routes or bus stops, identified in the Transport Assessment, to be provided or funded by developers, will be secured through planning conditions or, where appropriate, a planning or other legal agreement.
Planning permission may also be subject to a condition preventing the development from going ahead until works necessary to facilitate the development, such as transport infrastructure improvements or other improvements, for example, road widening, have been carried out.
Planning or other legal agreements may be necessary where, for example, development necessitates the provision of off-site transport infrastructure or where developers are expected to provide financial contributions towards the implementation of transport measures, such as improvements in public transport services. The provision or improvement of transport infrastructure or measures may be provided by virtue of a Planning Agreement under Article 40 of the Planning (NI) Order 1991 or an Agreement under Article 122 of the Roads (NI) Order 1993 Opens link in a new browser window or Private Streets legislation.
Submitting a Travel Plan alongside the Planning Application may help to outline how the developer envisages mitigating any adverse transport impacts.

Travel Plans

A Travel Plan may be required if the development is a significant travel generator. A Travel Plan may also be required for small developments as a mitigation measure to reduce car dependency. Planning Service, in consultation with Roads Service, will advise when a Travel Plan is required.
A Travel Plan may include measures tailored to the development proposal, for example, off-site car parks or contract bus services. Travel Plans provide co-ordination of transport related measures and will be more effective in changing travel patterns than individual initiatives. Information obtained through the Transport Assessment process on travel patterns may form part of the Travel Plan.  
Travel Plans are often submitted to demonstrate how the developer expects to mitigate transport impacts. A Travel Plan should include a clear set of targets, which are easy to measure and relate directly to the planning application. The monitoring of Travel Plans will be required and arrangements need to be agreed as part of the planning decision.

Servicing Plans

A Transport Assessment should set out how the site will be serviced.  Information on the anticipated number and scheduling of delivery vehicles is required. This should demonstrate how any larger vehicles would use the site, and how adverse impacts are being addressed.

Change of Use

Even where the initial occupier is known some land uses, such as offices, could change over time. For example, an office used as a telephone call-centre could change into a training centre for the same occupier but with significantly different transport consequences.
As a change of use (involving the need for planning permission) could easily result in different travel characteristics, a Transport Assessment may be requested.

Speculative Development

Speculative development raises a particular issue since it may be unclear who the eventual occupier of a development will be. While some developments may only be useable for one purpose, others, such as industrial units or offices, could be used with radically different intensities with different transport impacts.
Speculative development and outline planning applications pose difficulties since the ultimate occupier or details of the scheme will not be identified as part of the application. Such proposals must be handled carefully to ensure that the benefits of the Transport Assessment process are not lost. Relevant points to note are:
  • Transport Assessment may incorporate some elements which require implementation by the final occupier to be successful, such as financial inducements to encourage behavioural change. Other elements may be self-enforcing, for example, restrictions on parking provision.
  • for outline planning applications developers should ensure that the description of the development is sufficient to enable the main transport impacts to be identified and assessed. The Transport Assessment should indicate the conditions to be attached on any outline planning consent to ensure that any subsequent applications maintain the conditions of the original application.
  • one approach for the developer will be to consider the worst likely case. If the resulting trip generation is acceptable then any other outcome can be regarded as acceptable.
  • planning permission normally rests with the land and not the occupier. Planning or other legal agreements will be enforceable against the person who entered into the agreement and in the case of registered Article 40 planning agreements any person who derives title from that person.
It may be appropriate to confine the Transport Assessment only to infrastructure matters that can be provided by the developer and require a Travel Plan to encourage behavioural change from the occupier. The developer would be required to take on responsibility for the Travel Plan prior to passing it to the occupier.
As part of the overall process, the occupier would also be responsible for carrying out post-implementation monitoring to ensure that travel plans are developing as intended or to help identify courses of action required through modifications to the Travel Plan.

Cumulative Impact

With several minor proposals in close proximity, a detailed Transport Assessment of the cumulative impact of the proposals may be more appropriate than one for each proposal in isolation. If Planning Service wishes to promote several minor developments near each other, it should aim, in consultation with Roads Service, to assess the cumulative transport issues arising from the entire scheme, ideally at the time the site or area is being designated in the Development Plan.
Conversely, where proposals may emerge independently from one another, rather than as a single proposal, the situation is more complex. This can give rise to a domino effect when one successful application leads to further proposals, as may occur with housing. Planning Service may be able to foresee when this is likely to occur (or react when it starts to happen), by aiming to assess the sites together, possibly as part of an area-wide development brief or master plan.

Monitoring Measures

It will be essential for the developer or occupier to monitor measures identified through the Transport Assessment/Travel Plan process.  This may, for example, involve measuring the modal share to see if targets are being achieved or measuring the level of parking utilisation.
Monitoring may be required for an agreed period and may be stipulated as part of the planning decision.  It could involve the building occupier submitting an annual or bi-annual report to the Planning Service presenting the outcome of perhaps regular monitoring exercises. The occupier of the development will be required to meet the costs of any monitoring.
Examples of various targets that can be used for monitoring
  • number of vehicles entering a site;
  • the modal share (walking, cycling, public transport, car) of those visiting the development;
  • parking usage (e.g. proportion of available parking used);
  • on-street parking on surrounding roads;
  • the maximum number or proportion of single occupancy vehicles entering the site;
  • the level of car-sharing; and/or
  • the provision of travel (e.g. public transport) information to staff and customers.
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