To consider and comment on the attached report (and appendices A – E) prior to the Cabinet decision due on 6 December 2021.
N Polaine (HGGT Director) and I Braddick (HGGT Lead) were in attendance. I Braddick introduced the report with a short presentation outlining the reasons and ambitions crucial to the endorsement of the HGGT Transport Strategy. It had been developed to meet the ambitions for sustainable movement set out within the HGGT vision, against the backdrop of the challenges of future travel demand linked to planned growth as set out in the Council’s emerging Local Plan. The Council had declared a climate emergency in 2019. With transport now the largest contributor to UK greenhouse gas emissions, the HGGT transport strategy supported the highest commitment across the Garden Town Authorities to become carbon-neutral by 2030. Key to this was making it easier to choose to travel sustainably, by providing reliable and high quality sustainable and active travel routes, and by creating connected communities and safe, enjoyable streets that offered local facilities and travel options for everyday activities. Members were also advised that the decision would now be taken by Cabinet on 25 January 2022.
Questions raised by members during the meeting were summarised below.
How would communities be constructed to reduce travelling and promote sustainable transport and growth? I Braddick replied it was fundamental that people’s needs had to be met locally and hub set-ups were one of the first things to look at in masterplanning. The transport strategy was built into reducing travel, so the ability to work, live, play and visit locally was key. N Polaine remarked a modal shift of 60% of all trips starting and/or ending in the new garden communities of the HGGT should be by active and sustainable travel modes.
Not everyone was able to use bikes, buses or walk, some people might not work in the area and would the results from the 2021 Census in relation to zero emission vehicles be used to amend this data? I Braddick replied the transport strategy enabled a genuine alternative for short journeys but if people needed to use a car then it was not stopping these. Promoting a shift to public transport and 60% active travel was key, as sustainable modes must be in a transport strategy. The results from the Census were expected in 2023, but it was recognised that such vehicles played a large part in tackling zero emissions and the transport strategy would allow for updates to be done. M Polaine commented that 60% modal shift left 40% for other ways to travel, but this could include collective car ownership, car sharing etc. Zero emission cars could still cause congestion. The transport strategy would put in place sustainable travel for the next 20 to 30 years.
Regarding principle 1, which gave priority to reducing unnecessary travel, and action 5, maximising opportunities which meant exploring and introducing new and innovative transport technologies as they developed, what was the vision on this? People would use buses providing they were cheap, reliable and frequent. M Polaine replied an example was trips to schools and could we influence this. Cheap and frequent public transport was challenging. Behavioural changes were needed to encourage children and adults, and for people to be open to new innovations, such as hydrogen vehicles, and attract private investment. As this was being endorsed by the two highway authorities, Essex and Hertfordshire county councils, it should shape their work, as well as the five partnerships. It was acknowledged that schools should be built close to houses.
Hospitals also needed to be accessible and not out of the way? I Braddick advised there was much debate on hospitals being accessible by public transport and car. A large employment site was needed. The transport strategy tried to address this as trips must be safe, and to understand shift patterns when using demand responsive travel (DRT) to correlate with the working pattern.
It was difficult to impose restrictions on car ownership per household and controversial to block off certain roads to traffic using non-local traffic schemes (NLT) to encourage walking and cycling. As Harlow had cycle and walk lanes, would there be a cycling infrastructure in Latton Priory? I Braddick commented that these aspects needed to be built in at the masterplanning stage, so properties were being sold as healthy places to live and limits on car ownership linked into parking amenities at developments. It was about encouraging a behavioural change within the community. It was important that cycle and walkways connected up, so they did not stop at the end of a development and were safe to use.
Would there be the opportunity to scope the flow of traffic to stop the build-up of vehicle emissions through road infrastructure at junctions, 20 mph schemes and one-way systems? I Braddick said that correct signalising at junctions was key in junction design and the transport strategy was a hierarchy to uphold design. M Polaine added that this detailed design was with the highway authorities.
With the introduction of smaller shopping centres for local housing areas to reduce some of the travelling, it was noted that Harlow had been set-up like this already.
As commuters travelled to Epping to use the Oyster card on London Underground, could the scheme be extended to Harlow with cheaper fares? I Braddick replied this was not being pursued but within the transport strategy there was an understanding of price points and fare difference. It was noted that Greater Anglia had been lobbied by the local MP, but it had not come to fruition yet.
It seemed traffic was given priority and pedestrians low priority in Loughton regarding the hierarchy on the principles of use, in particular the Epping Forest Retail Park was difficult to walk to, so people had to drive.
I Braddick advised members’ comments / feedback should be included, so the report would be rewritten for Cabinet’s meeting in January 2022.
That the Committee reviewed the report on the endorsement of the HGGT Transport Strategy.