Walking and cycling can make an important contribution to the health and wellbeing of our communities and steps are being taken across Government to improve provision.
The Government invested over £850 million in active travel between 2020/21 and 2022/23. It has also committed to spending at least a further £100 million capital into active travel over the remainder of the spending period, as part of a £3 billion investment in active travel over the course of this Parliament.
The Transport Decarbonisation plan promotes the principle of 20-minute neighbourhoods to encourage more children and adults to walk local, everyday journeys while Active Travel England will act as a statutory consultee with the planning system.
Within the planning system, it is already the case that planning policies should support healthy lifestyles, especially where that would address identified local health and wellbeing needs – as laid out in guidance and the Government has committed to review the National Planning Policy Framework to ensure it contributes to climate change adaption and mitigation as fully as possible.
The Framework makes clear that transport issues should be considered from the earliest stages of both plan making and development proposals. This ensures that opportunities to promote cycling, walking and the use of public transport are identified early on and pursued. Where significant new housing developments are planned, the framework sets out that they should be focused on locations which either are or can be made sustainable and offer a genuine choice of transport modes.
The Government has published a National Model Design Code which advises local authorities to create a vision statement setting out the ways in which developments will deal with traffic, parking, public transport, walking and cycling.
Finally, the Government is updating the Manual for Streets which also helps local planning authorities to consider street design on housing developments and recommends creating a hierarchy when considering the needs of different groups for street development which places pedestrians and cyclists at the top.
The West Sussex Walking and Cycling Strategy is designed to complement these national plans and sets out the County Council’s aims and objectives together with their priorities for investment. They will continue to implement a range of activities that support walking & cycling in West Sussex including training and skills, road safety, school travel plans, promotion and information provision.
In Mid Sussex, the District Council has, earlier this year, committed to delivering sustainable infrastructure and promoting sustainable travel options including green travel plans. New developments should demonstrate an increase in biodiversity and the Council will continue to set aside areas of public open space for rewilding as part of their green commitment.
I will continue engaging with ministerial colleagues and others on this important issue.