Active Travel England will now help deliver walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure on all future large developments, it has been announced.
As of today (01 June 2023), Active Travel England is officially a statutory consultee on all planning applications for developments equal to or exceeding 150 housing units, 7,500m2 of floorspace or an area of five hectares.
This will see Active Travel England review around 3,100 applications a year, equating to 60% of new homes.
The new role is designed to enable Active Travel England to help planning authorities in their work to implement active travel design – for example, by ensuring developments include walking, wheeling and cycling connectivity to schools and local amenities.
As well as aiming to help improve public health, save people money and reduce emissions, building in active travel at the design stage could also help to avoid large increases in vehicle traffic and reduce the need for potentially costly upgrades to major road junctions or other corrective action in the future.
Active Travel England 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.”
The establishment of Active Travel England’s statutory consultee status follows a pilot project, which saw Active Travel England work with 30 local authorities to assess more than 60 developments over nine months up until November 2022.
Feedback from a survey at the start of the pilot saw 80% of respondents agree Active Travel England should have a role in the planning system.
While Active Travel England 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 UK Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to ensure its thresholds as a statutory consultee are set at an appropriate level.