Purpose: To provide a highways update on the delivery of active travel projects across North Yorkshire.
A report of the Corporate Director – Business & Environmental Services, providing a highways update on the delivery of active travel projects across North Yorkshire.
Louise Neale, Transport Planning Team Leader introduced the update, and provided an overview of the DfT funding bids made by NYCC, as detailed in section 3 of the report, and went on to outline:
· The Authority’s strategic approach to walking and cycling improvements, and its commitment to developing a LCWIP for the main urban centre within each District.
· The key outputs of an LCWIP i.e. a cycling and walking network; a priorities programme of infrastructure; and a report that set out the narrative behind the prioritisation of the routes.
· A number of LCWIPS in place / being drawn up for various districts across the County;
She drew attention to the Authority’s Capability Fund allocation, which would be used to review and update some of the early LCWIPS produced, as detailed in section 5 of the report. It was noted this had replaced the Government’s previous Access Fund, and that the funding would be used to carry out an LCWIP review and to provide Bikeability training in schools.
In regard to the development of travel plans, she confirmed two new sustainable travel officers were to be recruited to work with developers and schools to develop travel plans and to carry out a marketing and promotion campaign across North Yorkshire to promote active travel.
She also drew attention to the Governments latest Local Transport Note providing updated guidance on delivering high quality cycle infrastructure, and the new Highway Design Guidance being produced by the Highway Authority’s Development Management Team, taking account of all National Planning Policy Framework revisions in recent years, which the LAF would be consulted on in due course.
Finally, she confirmed that Network Strategy Teams would continue to engage with the LAF at the appropriate time on future relevant projects, such as the forthcoming Catterick LCWIP.
In response to Forum questions, Louise Neale confirmed:
· A LCWIP was being developed for Northallerton;
· Modelling work on Hambleton’s Local Plan was ongoing;
· Work was underway on a Levelling Up Fund bid for Thirsk, with the aim of improving access to the train station;
· Routes were designed by the Authority’s engineers in consultation with WSP (Framework Consultants) and safety audits were carried out on all new routes, taking account of the safety of users etc – it was noted this was all tied down by the design guidance and the safety standards therein, which NYCC had to regularly challenge due to the many restrictions and constrained spaces on its network;
· When a new route was planned that was likely to be considered a public rights of way, it would be discussed with the Countryside Access Service to consider whether it would be appropriate to add it to the definitive map;
Forum members noted that equestrians often had no other option but to use busy roads to traverse urban areas to reach local bridleways and quieter lanes, and suggested there should be no assumption that equestrians would not use such routes. They also recognised the difficulties of meeting national guidelines but suggested that as North Yorkshire was a predominantly rural county, with a high number of horses owned and used not just for leisure purposes, there had to be a way of better incorporating them into both the ROW and highways network. They also requested a more pro-active stance on engaging and consulting with stables and riding schools based in the vicinity of any new routes proposed.
Finally, as the DfT was a Section 94 body, Rachel Connolly suggested the Forum write to them to stress the importance of them taking a more inclusive approach to LCWIPs.
The Chair thanked Louise Neale for the report, and her attendance at the meeting, and it was
i. The report be noted;
ii. Rachel Connolly draft a letter to the DfT on the lack of inclusivity on Government’s strategy on LCWIPs to be sent on behalf of the Forum;