I am aware of some confusion caused by the proposed adoption of the Joint Local Transport Plan 4 (JLTP4), which is due to be discussed by North Council’s Executive at its meeting on Wednesday 5 February.
Concerns have been raised about the links between this policy document and the withdrawn Joint Spatial Plan (JSP). Although we have been producing them in parallel, and there are links between transport and planning, the two are separate.
The importance of having an up-to-date joint transport plan with our West of England partners remains the same as it was when the first was adopted in 2006. It gives us a voice in central government and helps us build strong cases to win funding for major transport schemes. Its aims are based on evidence and cover every aspect of transport policy including, but not limited to, public transport and sustainable transport development; road safety; highways maintenance; and technological advances in the sector.
Since the JLTP4 went to consultation in February and March 2019 it has been reviewed to make sure the proposals are still relevant. Alongside more than 4,000 responses received it has seen more than 3,500 edits. These include replacing all references to the JSP with ‘regional development planning or local plans’ and updating major scheme proposals to make sure they are still relevant.
The JLTP4 sets out the transport and travel policies for the West of England area. The aspirations set out in the document were developed in response to evidence collected about what the area’s transport needs will be up until 2036. The five authorities involved (North Somerset Council, Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, South Gloucestershire and West of England Combined Authority) have decided to go ahead with the process to adopt the JLTP4 for many reasons, including:
- It would be difficult to win funding bids for major transport schemes with an outdated plan
- The need to reflect the recent Climate Emergency declarations
- Responding to the findings of the Joint Transport Study, which used data to project what the area’s transport needs will be between now and 2036
- Setting out proposals and a stronger policy to make mass transit – moving more people, more efficiently, using less carbon – a priority
- Replacing the JLTP3 because most of the current schemes have been delivered
- Reflecting the creation of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).
However, as transport and planning are strongly linked it is likely work will begin almost immediately on a new JLTP (JLTP5) to ensure that the two remain aligned and that strategic cross-boundary issues are addressed.
Following our withdrawal from the JSP process, North Somerset will be producing a new Local Plan that will cover a wide spectrum of development, not just that of building homes. It will also explore employment space, transport infrastructure, town centres, shops, leisure facilities and open spaces.
It is not the council’s intention simply to dust off the proposals of the failed JSP and represent them in a new form.
The Local Plan is a key document that will eventually become an overarching planning policy that guides development across our area. It’s vitally important that we get it right and we’ll be inviting residents and other partners to get involved in the creation of the document in the coming months.
We must all recognise that the need to provide more homes, employment and infrastructure has not gone away.
We need honest conversations about what our community needs, now and in the future and we need to make sure all sections of our community are listened to, not just those with the loudest voices.
Our priority is to deliver sustainable growth in a way that best meets the needs of our community. We will listen to the arguments, look at the evidence and try to make the best decisions we can.
Councillor James Tonkin
North Somerset Council Executive Member for Planning and Transport