Transport assessment, statement or travel plan

Last Updated: 21 February 2023

Used to enable the assessment of development upon the highway network and minimise the use of private motor vehicles.

When required

For more information on the thresholds for transport assessments, travel plans and transport statements, please refer to government guidelines.

Cumbria County Council have also published guidance on the preparation of travel plans and transport statements.

Contents of a transport assessment and statement

The scope and level of detail in a transport assessment or statement will vary from site to site but the following should be considered when settling the scope of the proposed assessment

  • information about the proposed development, site layout, (particularly proposed transport access and layout across all modes of transport)
  • information about neighbouring uses, amenity and character, existing functional classification of the nearby road network
  • data about existing public transport provision, including provision/ frequency of services and proposed public transport changes
  • a qualitative and quantitative description of the travel characteristics of the proposed development, including movements across all modes of transport that would result from the development and in the vicinity of the site
  • an assessment of trips from all directly relevant committed development in the area (that is development that there is a reasonable degree of certainty will proceed within the next three years)
  • data about current traffic flows on links and at junctions (including by different modes of transport and the volume and type of vehicles) within the study area and identification of critical links and junctions on the highways network
  • an analysis of the injury accident records on the public highway in the vicinity of the site access for the most recent three-year period, or five-year period if the proposed site has been identified as within a high accident area
  • an assessment of the likely associated environmental impacts of transport related to the development, particularly in relation to proximity to environmentally sensitive areas (such as air quality management areas or noise sensitive areas)
  • measures to improve the accessibility of the location (such as provision/ enhancement of nearby footpath and cycle path linkages) where these are necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms
  • a description of parking facilities in the area and the parking strategy of the development
  • ways of encouraging environmental sustainability by reducing the need to travel and measures to mitigate the residual impacts of development (such as improvements to the public transport network, introducing walking and cycling facilities, physical improvements to existing roads

In general, assessments should be based on normal traffic flow and usage conditions (e.g. non-school holiday periods, typical weather conditions) but it may be necessary to consider the implications for any regular peak traffic and usage periods (such as rush hours). Projections should use local traffic forecasts such as TEMPRO drawing where necessary on National Road Traffic Forecasts for traffic data).

The timeframe that the assessment covers should be agreed with the local planning authority in consultation with the relevant transport network operators and service providers. However, in circumstances where there will be an impact on a national transport network, this period will be set out in the relevant Government policy.

Contents of a travel plan

A travel plan should identify the specific required outcomes, targets and measures, and set out clear future monitoring and management arrangements all of which should be proportionate. It should also consider what additional measures may be required to offset unacceptable impacts if the targets should not be met.

A travel plan should set explicit outcomes rather than just identify processes to be followed (such as encouraging active travel or supporting the use of low emission vehicles). It should address all journeys resulting from a proposed development by anyone who may need to visit or stay and they should seek to fit in with wider strategies for transport in the area.

It should evaluate and consider:

  • benchmark travel data including trip generation databases
  • information concerning the nature of the proposed development and the forecast level of trips by all modes of transport likely to be associated with the development
  • relevant information about existing travel habits in the surrounding area
  • proposals to reduce the need for travel to and from the site via all modes of transport and  provision of improved public transport services
  • parking strategy options (if appropriate – and having regard to national policy on parking standards and the need to avoid unfairly penalising motorists) and proposals to enhance the use of existing, new and improved public transport services and facilities for cycling and walking both by users of the development and by the wider community (including possible financial incentives)
  • these active measures may assist in creating new capacity within the local network that can be utilised to accommodate the residual trip demand of the site(s) under consideration
  • it is often best to retain the ability to establish certain elements of the travel plan or review outcomes after the development has started operating so that it can be based upon the occupational and operational characteristics of the development
  • any sanctions (for example financial sanctions on breaching outcomes/ processes) need to be reasonable and proportionate, with careful attention paid to the viability of the development. It may often be more appropriate to use non-financial sanctions where outcomes/ processes are not adhered to (such as more active or different marketing of sustainable transport modes or additional traffic management measures). Relevant implications for planning permission must be set out clearly, including (for example) whether the travel plan is secured by a condition or planning obligation.

A travel plan can only impose such requirements where these are consistent with policy on planning obligations (Section 106 agreements).