Active Travel England – the story so far

All planning applications exceeding 150 residential units, 7,500 square metres of floorspace or five hectares of site land now need to comply with guidance issued by the new statutory consultee, Active Travel England (ATE).  Director Andrew Whittingham takes stock and reflects on the impact, four months after publication of the new guidance.

ATE’s objective is for more than half of all trips in England’s towns and cities to be walked, wheeled or cycled by 2030.  New guidance requires that all routes to local facilities are fully assessed and that new infrastructure is compliant with Local Transport Note (LTN) 1/20.

Applications which are considered significant in size, location or impact on infrastructure delivery plans, will be assessed by ATE using a toolkit of 31 qualitative and quantitative criteria.  The criteria include the need for appropriate segregation of cycling and motor traffic, crossings, junction assessments and recommended minimum lane widths.  Guidance is also given on the required or recommended distances to local facilities.

Local planning authorities (LPAs) will act as the conduit for communications between ATE, developers and the local highway authority.  It is currently anticipated that a pre-application service will be made available to LPAs, developers and consultants in late 2023.

Policy compliance

Transport assessments will need to demonstrate rigorous analysis of policy compliance.  Speed and flow surveys are now required, in theory, on all links to local amenities.  Details such as the distance or quality of access to a bus route could result in a fail.  Travel plans must include multimodal targets and demonstrate infrastructure use assessment against LTN 1/20, with clear remedial measures as necessary.

LTN 1/20 will need to be reviewed and applied at all stages of the advice and appraisal process.  Masterplans and reserve matters applications should follow LTN 1/20 and existing applications should also demonstrate adoption of the principles.

Since publication of the new guidance in June, in our experience, its impact has been less than might have been expected.  To date we have received only a few responses from ATE, either stating ‘no comment’ or referring to the guidance.  We look forward to constructively engaging with ATE as significant applications progress.

With wide experience of carrying out similar assessments, Motion is already focused on promoting better walking and cycling opportunities and maximising a site’s connectivity with the wider area.  We recommend that all applications currently under preparation are reviewed to determine the level of new information which may be required to ensure a positive response from ATE.  The proposed pre-application service will be key to understanding the criteria or any bespoke applications of the toolkit.

For further information call Andrew Whittingham on 07766 522911 or email

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