Active Travel England (ATE) will now help deliver walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure on all future large developments, enabling more people to make healthier, greener and cheaper travel choices. It will not, however, have any statutory powers to direct the outcome of planning applications.
As of 1 June 2023, ATE is officially a statutory consultee on all planning applications for developments equal to or exceeding 150 housing units, 7,500 m2 of floorspace or an area of 5 hectares.
The establishment of ATE’s statutory consultee status follows a pilot project, which saw ATE work with 30 local authorities to assess more than 60 developments over the 9 months up until November 2022.
Feedback from a survey at the start of the pilot saw 80% of respondents agree ATE should have a role in the planning system.
The new role will now see ATE reviewing around 3,100 applications a year, equating to 60% of new homes.
The new role will enable ATE to help planning authorities in their work to implement good active travel design – for example, by ensuring developments include walking, wheeling and cycling connectivity to schools and local amenities. This will help improve public health, save people money and reduce harmful emissions.
Building in active travel at design stage will also help to avoid big increases in vehicle traffic and reduce the need for costly upgrades to major road junctions or other corrective action in the future.
Active Travel Commissioner Chris Boardman said: "Active travel is essential to improving public health, reducing emissions and tackling the cost of living crisis. That’s why we’re working to ensure millions more people have the opportunity to walk, wheel or cycle from their doorstep to where they need to be.
"Designing activity back into our neighbourhoods and creating places where children have transport independence is achievable – it just needs smart planning.
A"s a statutory consultee, ATE will work with planning authorities and developers to help them ensure new estates give people what they need to get fresh air and exercise, save money on petrol and help fight climate change."
While ATE will be consulted on developments at and above its thresholds, it will not have any statutory powers to direct the outcome of planning applications. Active Travel England has been working with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to ensure its thresholds as a statutory consultee are set at an appropriate level.
In addition to carrying out this new role, ATE continues to invest to help councils deliver walking, wheeling and cycling schemes across the country and recently announced the 65 local authorities receiving a share of the latest Active Travel Fund (ATF4).
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