Stagecoach welcomes England’s revised national planning policy

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The revisions follow a period of debate and discussions with a number of interested parties, including Stagecoach

Stagecoach has welcomed the recent revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), as published by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The operator appreciated the emphasis placed on earlier planning and designing public transport requirements around new housing developments.

Previously, Stagecoach had expressed its concerns that new-build developments were car-dependent – with parking, pollution and congestion getting out of control.

As a result of such criticism, the Government conducted detailed discussions with campaign groups and the likes of Stagecoach, now publishing revised guidance to put public transport at the heart of future developments.

As well as taking part in the debate, Stagecoach has liaised with professional bodies including the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation.

Last year, the company published its own guidance, entitled ‘Bus Services and New Residential Developments,’ aiming to make its views immediately accessible to both professionals and the wider community.

In particular, Stagecoach has welcomed:
• The strengthening of cross-boundary co-operation between councils and other public authorities;
• Greater and clearer emphasis given to ‘early, proportionate and effective engagement between planners and (transport) operators’ when considering the overall development strategy for an area, and greater emphasis prior to a planning application on consultation with the community and a range of other stakeholders;
• The recognition that transport service providers of all kinds are a key stakeholder in the planning and development process;
• Clear guidance around how development needs might sustainably be met in and around smaller settlements, but at all times ensuring that proposals should be realistic in their estimates of how far people might need to travel outside the immediate locality, and ensure that good access is available to services, jobs and amenities in nearby larger towns; and
• The greater clarity and entirely new emphasis given to ‘facilitating access to high quality public transport, with layouts that maximise the catchment area for bus or other public transport services, and appropriate facilities that encourage public transport use’ in the development, design and consenting processes.

Dr Nick Small, Stagecoach UK Bus Head of Strategic Development and the Built Environment, commented: “As thousands of new homes are built each year in England, it is even more important that public transport solutions are part of the early planning of new developments if we are to protect the environment, reduce air congestion and improve air quality.

“It’s very pleasing to see that this new guidance places public transport at the forefront of planning and that many of our recommendations have been incorporated into the revised policy.

“The key, of course, will be consistently applying the new policy focus. We will continue to support local authorities and other development experts across the country to help ensure that new development, wherever possible, leads to improvements in the relevance, attractiveness and reliability of public transport.”