Travel plans: an introduction
What is a travel plan?
A travel plan is a long-term strategy which aims to encourage people to use alternatives to cars. It should include a range of measures which encourage people to walk, cycle, use public transport and share car journeys. A travel plan will usually include any travel issues which need to be addressed, details of how people travel to the site, an action plan, a specific car reduction target and details of how the travel plan will be monitored and reported on.
Generally, travel plans focus on the journey to work. However, they can also be an effective way to address:
- road safety issues;
- reducing business travel costs, by promoting remote or home working or using video or teleconferencing;
- making a site more accessible to visitors and deliveries; and
- efficient management of company fleet vehicles.
When are travel plans required?
Travel plans are nearly always required to accompany planning applications for large scale developments. The National Planning Policy Framework states that all developments that will generate significant amounts of movement should be required to provide a travel plan.
For smaller developments, travel plans are often secured once planning consent has been granted. In these cases, a planning condition sets out when a travel plan is required – generally, this is once a development has been built, but before it is occupied.
Travel plan content is required to contribute towards the objectives of Surrey County Council's Local Transport Plan. The four objectives are:
- Effective transport: To facilitate end-to-end journeys for residents, business and visitors by maintaining the road network, delivering public transport services and, where appropriate, providing enhancements.
- Reliable transport: To improve the journey time reliability of travel in Surrey.
- Safe transport: To improve road safety and the security of the travelling public in Surrey.
- Sustainable transport: To provide an integrated transport system that protects the environment, keeps people healthy and provides for lower carbon transport choices.
Organisations are increasingly developing travel plans voluntarily. Travel plans can help to tackle specific problems such as car parking pressures or road safety issues. Some organisations develop travel plans to address environmental concerns or to improve conditions for their workforce, visitors, customers, patients and/or students.
What are the benefits of travel plans?
Employers can tailor measures to appeal to a wider range of prospective employees. Travel plan measures should help improve absenteeism rates, due to improved employees' health and more flexible working options should lead to better staff retention. Employers looking to reduce their carbon footprint, spend less on car parking provision and free up land for expansion would benefit from producing a travel plan.
Employees will benefit from measures which result in a better work/life balance, reduced fuel, travel and parking costs, more manageable workloads through the use of video/teleconferencing and regular daily exercise, if they are able to walk or cycle to work.
Schools with travel plans report improved attentiveness from pupils on arrival at school. Pupils are also able to put their road safety skills into practice and improve their knowledge of the local area, when they walk, scooter or cycle on the school journey. Schools find that having a travel plan helps achieve Eco-Schools accreditation and can improve relations with local residents.
Developers of residential sites can improve marketability by installing facilities which enable sustainable travel, such as secure bike storage and car club vehicles.
Local communities benefit from fewer park problems, less congestion generally and improved air quality.