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Proposed new government planning guidelines urge councils to prioritise cycling and walking

Draft National Planning Policy Framework is open for consultation until 10 May

A new draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) unveiled by Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday urges local authorities in England to make provision for cycling and walking within their planning policies.

As Carlton Reid reports on BikeBiz, the media’s attention was grabbed by May calling on house-builders to prioritise constructing more homes rather than focusing on profits.

But the NPPF, which guides councils on planning-related matters relating to issues as diverse as housing, communications and the natural environment, could provide support for local authorities looking to promote active travel.

According to paragraph 105 of the draft document, “Planning policies should [inter alia] provide for high quality walking and cycling networks and supporting facilities such as cycle parking – drawing on Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans.”

Under paragraph 110, “applications for development should give priority first to pedestrian and cycle movements, both within the scheme and with neighbouring areas,” as well as ease of access to public transport links.

Another provision of the same paragraph is that such applications should “create places that are safe, secure and attractive – which minimise the scope for conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, avoid unnecessary street clutter, and respond to local character and design standards.”

As Reid, author of the books Roads Were Not Built For Cars and Bike Boom: The Unexpected Resurgence of Cycling, points out, the draft document, which is open for consultation until 10 May, is not entirely positive when it comes to active travel.

There is no longer any reference to ‘Garden City Principles’ designed to encourage the development of sustainable communities, while other provisions may be less stringent on issues such as health and compliance with the Climate Act 2008 than the previous version of the NPPF was.

The draft NPPF applies to England only, with responsibility for planning guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland devolved to those countries’ own legislatures.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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