Active travel fund – consultation plan

Active Travel Fund projects

Following the Covid-19 lockdown in early 2020, the Department for Transport (DfT) made £848,000 of funding available to Surrey County Council (SCC) via the Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF) to provide temporary new infrastructure which would aid with social distancing measures. This included reallocating road space for non-motorised users, such as providing cycle lanes or widening footways.

The DfT has subsequently announced a second round of Active Travel Funding (Tranche 2), of which Surrey County Council has been awarded £6.445,750. This money is to enable the consultation and delivery of 10 Active Travel schemes as detailed within the funding application.

Requirement for consultation

We are keen to canvass the views of residents and stakeholders across the county for our ambitious plan for active travel. Therefore, we will be carrying out the following activities to ensure we gain as much evidence as possible;

  • Consult with key local stakeholders.
  • Implement a communications plan.
  • Discuss plans with local MPs and provided a summary of responses.
  • Consult specifically with disability groups and hold innovative consultations to ensure their views are heard.
  • Obtain broad support and make changes to account for feedback.

'Appropriate' Consultation

SCC will ensure that our consultation with key stakeholders and the local community happens in-line with the Gunning Principles for public consultation, to ensure that consultation activities constitute a fair and worthwhile exercise. These can be summarised as follows:

  • Consultation must be at a time when proposals are still at a formative stage;
  • The proponent must give sufficient reasons for any proposal to permit intelligent consideration and response;
  • Adequate time is given for consideration and response.

Consultation objectives

SCC considers the following to be the objectives for undertaking meaningful consultation with local stakeholders regarding the proposed schemes.

  1. To raise awareness of the Active Travel Fund (ATF) and its purpose.
  2. To raise awareness of the schemes among the local community and key stakeholders in the local area.
  3. To engage with local stakeholders to ensure that they are well-informed about the proposed schemes and their wider objectives.
  4. To encourage better informed decision-making.
  5. To seek to involve local communities and encourage them to give feedback on our proposals.
  6. To give local communities a real opportunity to shape designs.

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Our Approach

SCC proposes to adopt a two phase approach to consultation regarding the proposed ATF scheme. This approach will also reduce risk by ensuring that there is early engagement prior to the start of formal consultation. The phases will be as follows:

  • Pre-consultation planning
  • Phase 1 Engagement
  • Phase 2 Consultation

Pre-consultation planning

Prior to consultation (Phase 2), it has been necessary to identify the stakeholders that need to be communicated with regarding the plan.

SCC have undertaken a stakeholder mapping exercise which identifies local stakeholders as well as the relevant statutory consultees relating to the proposed ATF scheme.

We have also ensured that the stakeholder mapping stage includes the identification of key stakeholders in the business community as well as professional road users – such as haulage firms and taxi and bus operators.

Furthermore, to ensure that our consultation is inclusive, we will be seeking to communicate with seldom heard groups and disability groups. Undertaking an exercise to identify the key equalities groups. This includes contact with user groups and panels representing those with disabilities, or minority communities.

Throughout all consultation SCC will take all reasonable steps to provide materials in accessible formats. This includes providing a plain text version of the information materials, compatible with screen reader software.

Phase 1 Engagement

Since submission of the ATF Tranche 2 grant application, all the Tranche 2 schemes have been available for consultation via the Active Travel fund webpage, collecting feedback via the Commonplace Platform.

This has been used to engage with the local community at the earliest opportunity in the schemes development. Providing an opportunity to raise awareness of the proposals, as well as giving an early opportunity to provide feedback on the proposals in principle.

This has helped reduce risk to scheme delivery, and has enabled issues to be identified earlier which will be mitigated, where appropriate, prior to the next stage of formal consultation.

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Phase 2 Consultation (formal)

For Phase 2, we will be consulting on a more detailed concept plan that will be produced for each scheme, including specific design aspects of the proposal.

Feedback will be possible throughout the 4 week Phase 2 consultation period, using an online hosted questionnaire /Common Place platform and we will raise awareness of this through our social media accounts.

This Phase 2 consultation will be undertaken prior to the purdah period and elections planned in early March 2021, with members briefed before the consultation goes live.

Research approach

To ensure that consultation is robust and can stand up to scrutiny, we propose a two part research approach and a summary review of existing research streams;

  1. A series of demographically representative, deliberative workshops with recruited residents to understand more about which schemes should be prioritised at both a local and county level. In these, we will also explore where individualism (aka Nimbyism) over-rides other principles that an individual may otherwise prioritise in relation to health, sustainability, environmentalism etc.

    The key areas of focus will be;

    • To gauge the level of support for each of the individual schemes at both the local level and across the county among a representative sample of residents.
    • To gauge the level of support at both the local level and across the county among local businesses that will be positively or negatively affected by the schemes.
    • Understand the principles by which residents and local businesses are prepared to support active travel schemes more broadly to help us understand where opposition to a scheme is rooted in the effects it is presumed to have at a local / individual level.
  2. In conjunction with the qualitative work, we're also suggesting a statistically representative quantitative survey to enable us to prioritise schemes based on utility and other factors such as sustainability, environmental and health benefits.

Analysis and reporting

The feedback received will be used to finalise the detailed design of each scheme and ensure there is local support for its delivery. Any material changes to schemes will be reported to the Department of Transport.