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Making residential travel plans work: guidelines for new development

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4. Poole Quarter, Poole, Dorset

Organisations

  • Developer: Crest Nicholson (South)
  • Local Authority: Borough of Poole Council

Overview of development

Poole Quarter is a centrally located residential development to the east of Poole town centre, consisting of 512 homes, including flats, houses and sheltered housing. It has 35% affordable housing. The site was formerly occupied by a gas works and its development has brought about environmental improvement for the area. The scheme is a catalyst for the delivery of the Central Poole Regeneration Strategy. Construction began in Autumn 2004 with first occupation in Summer 2005.

Reasons for the travel plan

Specific guidance helps to set the policy context for residential travel plans in the borough. Poole's Supplementary Planning Guidance on Parking Guidelines (February 2004), states that

"recent experience of residential developments with low car parking provision has shown that all developments of 50 dwellings or more should be required to produce an active residential travel plan, and in some circumstances it will be a requirement for smaller developments."

Poole also has Supplementary Planning Guidance on Travel Plans (April 2003), which outlines the process by which these will be developed and implemented in relation to new development. In the case of Poole Quarter, council members were concerned about the overspill parking and traffic likely to result from this large, high density scheme and the travel plan helped to address these concerns. The need for the travel plan was considered from at an early stage, as part of initial planning discussions, and Crest Nicholson, working with the consultant Foxley Tagg, was proactive in integrating the travel plan into the design of the scheme from the outset. An Environmental Impact Assessment, including a Transport Assessment, was submitted as part of the planning application, and the detailed residential travel plan was subsequently developed through discussions between the borough's travel plan officer, the developer and the developer's consultant.

Main elements of the travel plan

Location - Poole Quarter is close to the town centre with good access to many off-site facilities, including bus and rail stations, several large employers, a hospital, shops and a school. In addition, land yet to be developed to the north of the site is to have a surgery and food retailers according to the Poole Local Plan.

Parking - parking on the site will be provided at 1 space per unit plus visitor spaces giving a ratio of approximately 1.1. Visitor parking will be managed and charged for.

Site design and facilities - a pedestrian and cycle route crosses the site and is designed to encourage access on foot or by bicycle to the town centre. The design includes a central focal space with a children's play area and other play areas are incorporated into housing courtyards. A toucan crossing is to be provided on the main road into Poole from the site. Secured covered cycle parking for residents and visitors is distributed across the development. New bus stops and shelters will be installed in the immediate vicinity.

Off-site infrastructure - the developer is funding a series of off-site highways measures, including a contribution of £10,000 to a Safe Routes to School scheme, £15,000 for a cycle link between the development and a nearby recreation space and £25,000 for a one-way system to prevent rat-running in an adjacent area. Improvements will also be made to a nearby roundabout.

Public transport - the developer will provide a five year subsidy towards an enhanced bus service (to be operational on occupation of the 50th unit). The scheme is to be reviewed on payment of the third instalment, with an option to move funding across to other measures if the bus service is not performing in terms of passenger use.

Car club - a car club is to be established on the site, with additional vehicles added according to demand. This will be set up in partnership with Western Challenge - the housing association developing the nearby Seldown site.

Promotional measures - the developer is funding an extensive promotional package to encourage new residents to use travel alternatives:

  • Sales and marketing literature will emphasise the sustainable nature of the development in terms of location and transport choices, and will also promote the travel plan. A travel plan notice board will be located outside the sales office and regularly updated.
  • Residents moving into the development will be offered a flexible voucher to obtain discounts on public transport or cycle purchase, worth up to £100 per household. Alternatively, they can claim one free car club membership for a year. The voucher will be awarded to up to three successive occupiers of the property.
  • A residents' travel plan pack will introduce the plan and provide lots of promotional materials for travel alternatives, including easy-to-read rail and bus timetables; details of regular travel offers; car club literature; cycling and walking route maps; information about joining the local walking bus scheme for travel to school; details of discounts on cycle purchase and cycle accessories; application forms for the flexible voucher offer; and details of a personalised journey planning service.
  • The development's sales and marketing staff will be trained in personalised journey planning techniques and will undertake this for new occupiers as part of the normal induction process, in order to promote sustainable travel to work, school and leisure activities.
  • A travel plan web site will be set up and maintained for the development, and a confidential car share database created from first occupation.

Targets and outcomes

The overall target is to achieve, on average, a maximum of three car trips per day per unit. The target is only triggered once 50 units are occupied.

Arrangements for monitoring and enforcement

The plan is secured through a section 106 agreement which states that the developer cannot commence development until the residential travel plan has been submitted and approved by the council. The agreement includes both a schedule of obligations under Highways Works and a schedule of Essential Travel Plan Obligations, covering the car club and bus services. Under the agreement, if the developer fails to meet its obligations in relation to the travel plan then the council will serve a Travel Plan Notice specifying the steps that must be taken. If this is not complied with the council may then take this action itself, and recover the cost from the developer.

Monitoring of the plan includes:

  • A snapshot travel survey of residents, including trip diary information, after 50 units are occupied and again 12 months later;
  • Annual surveys to monitor take up of alternatives and information from the sales office on the take up of travel incentive measures;
  • A trip diary of households one year after initial occupation of the first phase and then in years three, four, five and the year after 486 units are completed.
  • Data analysis from automated traffic counters installed at site entrances;
  • Data from the personalised travel plan visits to each household carried out by sales staff.

Monitoring falls initially to Crest Nicholson, though the section 106 includes a contribution by the developer to cover the authority's involvement in the monitoring process.

Management of the plan

The developer is responsible for implementing the plan and is expected to undertake the role of travel coordinator. This includes ongoing negotiations with public transport operators and the local authority and setting up and running a travel plan steering group for three years after occupation of 486 units. The travel plan steering group is expected to include the developer, the developer's consultant, the managing agent, housing associations, the local authority travel plan officer, bus and train operators and the developer from a neighbouring site (which also has a travel plan). Once construction is completed, custody of the travel plan falls to the residents' management company, which will select a managing agent to deal with this and other issues.

Emerging good practice

  • The scheme has a wide breadth of measures, and combines infrastructure improvements, such as enhanced public transport and pedestrian-friendly site design, with an extensive promotional package;
  • The plan integrates promotion for sustainable travel into the normal sales and marketing activities of the site, and includes special training for sales and marketing staff;
  • The section 106 agreement includes the mechanism of a Travel Plan Notice to ensure that the travel plan can be implemented in the event of non-compliance;
  • Provision has been made for the management of the scheme by a travel coordinator and a steering group, with subsequent handover to the residents' management company;
  • The section 106 agreement includes a funding contribution towards the cost of the council's future involvement in the monitoring and review process for the travel plan;
  • The need for a residential travel plan is explicit in local authority Supplementary Planning Guidance
  • The need for the scheme was introduced early in the planning process and an appropriate package of measures developed through close partnership working.

Further information

Doug Evans, team leader, development control, d.evans@poole.gov.uk

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