Monday, 7 October 2013

Transport Assessments feedback from Lambeth and Wandsworth

My recent posts on the numbers projected not to cycle to planned new Vauxhall and Battersea schools have attracted informative responses from Lambeth and Wandsworth, the respective boroughs.

The responses were kindly obtained, and sent to me today, by Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership (@NineElmsTeam) who introduce themselves as follows.
It might be useful to explain in the first instance who we are and what is our mandate. As the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership we are the informal partnership for the Nine Elms Vauxhall Battersea Opportunity Area (or VNEB, now known as Nine Elms on the South Bank), working with Wandsworth and Lambeth Councils, TfL, the GLA and the various large developers and landowners in the area. Our role in the Partnership Delivery Team is strategic, in that we aim to create cohesion across all partners and to bring all their plans together; our partners are delivering the regeneration of the area.
I reproduce the replies from each borough in full below. My interpretation of these replies (without re-reading the Transport Assessments)  is that the Assessments predicts what form of transport will be used for the new building, based on similar existing buildings in places with similar transport infrastructure to that which currently exists, but don't make a second prediction incorporating the planned infrastructure developments such as the new tube line or 'better than Amsterdam' cycling facilities, based on a location where such infrastructure already exists. It seems to me that the absence of this second assessment can lead to flawed decision making.

Lambeth Council replied as follows:
All large developments are required to submit a Transport Assessment (TA) as part of their planning application. The purpose of this document is to set out the existing baseline transport and traffic conditions of the surrounding area; to make a robust prediction on the number and type of trips to be generated by the proposed development and then to assess the impact that those new trips would have on the highway and public transport network.

Therefore the figures quoted in the Waterman Boreham TA for Keybridge House stating the number of people cycling to and from the new school are predictions based on existing levels of cycling at other schools in similar locations. It is important to note that they are definitely not intended to be a target and are certainly not an aspiration. Lambeth Council works with all its schools to develop bespoke Travel Plans that seek to increase levels of cycling and walking. This includes providing cycle training for anyone who lives, works or studies in the borough. Lambeth Council have recently adopted an ambitious Cycling Strategy and are actively working with TfL to deliver major improvements to cycling routes through the borough in the near future.

All developments within the VNEB Opportunity Area are required to make financial contributions to overarching public realm improvements across the wider area. Better provision for cycling will be at the very centre of these improvements with proposals for improved cycle routes as set out in the Lambeth Cycling Strategy, major infrastructure projects such as a new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the river from Nine Elms to Pimlico, and a requirement for cycle parking as part of all new developments.

In addition to this developments are also required to fund improvements to the public highway directly related to their site and this will be the same for Keybridge House with the likelihood of contributions towards public realm improvements on both Wyvil Road and Miles Street, including improved cycling infrastructure.

Options are currently being investigated to remove Vauxhall Gyratory and return the streets to two-way operation. This would lead to improvements for cycling and walking at Vauxhall and to reduce traffic dominance. This is in accordance with the Vauxhall SPD and the council's aim to develop a district centre at Vauxhall with significantly improved public realm and permeability.

For the 415 new homes proposed within Keybridge House only 115 car parking spaces will be provided which equates to less than 1 space for every 3 homes; conversely every home will have at least 1 cycle parking space with more provided for the larger units. The car parking ratio has been negotiated down by around 50% from the developer's original proposals. The application has yet to be determined but the council will work with the developer to ensure that a comprehensive package of sustainable transport measures are delivered.
 Wandsworth Council said:
The point of the TA is to use known data as a proxy for what might happen. TAs have to apply a methodology compliant with TfL's Best Practice Guidance

It is not for the TA to make aspirational assumptions about future cycle use as this could then underestimate the likely impact on the bus and highway network.

However, we expect schools to develop more cycling as a result of planning and transport policies (cycle parking/travel plan etc), investment in cycling and schools cycling, and the cultural/demographic shift to cycling. We are statutory required to increase cycling mode share in the Borough from 2.7% of all journeys in 2008/09 to 7% in 2031 and are well on course for that (currently 4.2%). Have a look at Paper 13-526, including Appendix 3.