Increasing accessibility to homes, jobs, open space, recreation and other services, and influencing travel patterns to encourage alternatives to the car to help reduce emissions and congestion are key aims of the Core Strategy.
Most journeys in Preston are taken by car. Predictions for future car use indicate that this travel preference will continue, although rapidly increasing petrol and diesel costs may slow down the trend. However, we can expect to see an increase in electric and alternative fuel vehicles during the plan period.
The Core Strategy sets out the broad principles to promote better accessibility by encouraging walking and cycling for shorter trips, and supporting bus and rail travel for longer journeys.
Through this Local Plan we can ensure that the development or protection of land influences travel choices and improves accessibility.
One way of encouraging walking is to provide safe, clean pedestrian friendly urban areas. Consequently, the Infrastructure Delivery Schedule includes improved pedestrian crossings at a number of locations.
Improvements to the City Centre Public Realm is featured in the City Centre Plan.
The Core Strategy supports cycling within Central Lancashire and encourages improvements to the cycle network to make it easier and safer for cyclists.
Lancashire County Council has identified cycle schemes to encourage more cycling, particularly between the suburbs and the City Centre.
All the schemes are dependent on the availability of funding and are listed in the Infrastructure Delivery Schedule. Developers will be asked to contribute towards the cost of implementing these schemes where appropriate.
A key aim of the Core Strategy is to encourage people to use other modes of travel, rather than the car. Using public transport helps to reduce congestion and exhaust emissions, which can in turn lead to improved air quality.
The provision of Park and Ride facilities is mentioned in delivering infrastructure section.
A number of Bus Rapid Transit Routes linking Preston to Cottam, Preston East and other destinations in Central Lancashire are included in the Infrastructure Delivery Schedule. These are subject to current funding bids. Similarly, bus lanes to serve the proposed Park and Ride sites at Broughton and Riversway are also identified.
New bus and rail facilities within the City Centre are considered in more detail in the City Centre Plan.
Although rail services are run by private companies, the lines and signalling belong to Network Rail. Local authorities can have a role to play in the provision of local rail services and enhanced or new stations.
Preston station is an important hub for rail services. It is well served by trains on the West Coast Main Line, whilst also being the centre of rail services to Manchester, Liverpool, Blackpool, Cumbria, East Lancashire and beyond.
There are existing electrification schemes planned for the Blackpool-Preston-Manchester railway line to provide an enhanced level of service. It is hoped that this will provide additional capacity and ease the current problems of overcrowding.
High Speed Rail Network (HS2)
In January 2012, the Secretary of State for Transport announced the decision to go ahead with plans for a new high speed rail network to connect London, the West Midlands and the north of England.
Known as 'HS2' this new infrastructure will release space on crowded railway lines for more passenger and freight services, including along the West Coast Main Line. It will significantly reduce inter-city journey times between major cities, with the prospect of encouraging more journeys by rail, reducing the environmental effects of car and air travel, and stimulating investment and creating jobs in areas outside the south-east.
Although not currently part of phase two, engineering options have also been considered and published by HS2 Ltd for a high speed route extending north of Preston. Whilst the city could be served by 'classic-compatible' trains using the existing station and West Coast Main Line to join the high speed network, route options for a new high speed line have been explored and an 'optimum' route presented.
The route presented as an engineering option would entail a new high speed rail line constructed crossing the West Coast Main Line to the south of Coppull and heading to the west of Leyland and crossing the River Ribble to the west of Preston on a line similar to the Central Lancashire Highways and Transport Masterplan's 'corridor of search' for a new Ribble road crossing.
The engineering route then follows a similar line to the Preston Western Distributor, and includes a new station and motorway junction in the Cottam/Bartle area. The route then re-joins the West Coast Main Line to the south of Bilsborrow.
It is important to emphasise that this engineering option has no formal status and does not currently form part of the HS2 phase 2 proposals. In delivering the transport infrastructure in this Local Plan, the County Council and other transport providers will need to be mindful of the plans for the HS2 network, to ensure that infrastructure is not precluded and that opportunities are taken if they present themselves.
Tram power, a private company, has proposals to develop a tram network within Central Lancashire. This network, based primarily on disused railway lines, links the city centre and railway station to Preston East. Tram power aspires to extend this network in the long term through South Ribble and on to Chorley and Ormskirk.
It is Trampower's intention that the tram network will be privately funded. There is still uncertainty as to how it will be delivered; therefore the proposals in this Plan do not rely on it coming forward.
Preston experiences problems with traffic congestion. This is particularly severe on the main arterial roads coming in to the city centre including the A6 (from the north and the south), the A582 (Penwortham Bypass), the A59 (Samlesbury), and the B6243 (Longridge).
Major road improvements at Broughton are discussed in the delivering infrastructure section, as are the implications of the development of the North West Preston Strategic Location. A number of other improvement schemes are identified in the Infrastructure Delivery Schedule to be funded through developer contributions.
It is important that new developments address key transport issues so that they can operate satisfactorily. This means looking at a wide range of transport issues, and not just access by car.
The Framework says that plans should ensure developments that generate significant movement are located where the need to travel will be minimised and the use of sustainable transport modes can be maximised. However, it recognises that car travel will continue to have an important role to play, particularly in rural areas where it is often the only real option for travel.
The Framework does not include parking standards. It says that if local parking standards are to be set then they should take into account the accessibility of the development; the type and mix and use of development; the availability of and opportunities for public transport; local car ownership levels; and an overall need to reduce the use of high-emission vehicles.
Car Parking provision
The availability of car parking can have a major influence on the choice of means of transport, and we support, encourage and promote measures to reduce car journeys through the promotion of alternatives, such as public transport.
At the same time, though, the aspiration to be a car owner remains high. Research by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) demonstrates that the public often feel that the level of provision in new residential developments is inadequate. There is also evidence locally in relation to student accommodation, for example, which suggests that on-site parking provision has not been sufficient and this has led to on-street parking congestion.
The partial review of the Regional Spatial Strategy for the North West (March 2010) proposed changes to car parking standards which were largely agreed across the Central Lancashire authorities.
The partial review was never completed because of changes to government policy, but the evidence underpinning the changes to the standards remains valid.
The following policy therefore endorses the standards contained in the RSS partial review. In addition, parking standards for new student accommodation are also proposed.
General Transport Considerations
To ensure that safe and convenient access is afforded to everyone, new developments should reduce rather than increase the dependence on private cars. Whilst much attention is usually given to road improvements to cope with additional traffic, it is important that other transport issues are taken into account if car use is to be reduced.
Transport Assessments should be submitted in support of major developments and any other proposals which would have significant transport implications. A Travel Plan should be submitted alongside any planning applications, outlining how these are to be managed in order to ensure the minimum environmental, social and economic impacts.