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What Is Best Practice When Carrying Out A Transport Assessment?
Planning, preparing and writing Transport Statements or Transport Assessment Reports is the core business activity for transport planning consultants. These reports are mainly needed to accompany planning applications in cases where the development proposals may have an effect on the public highway.

In the first instance, after receiving instruction to proceed, and as long as the proposals are not secret, the transport planning consultant (or Highways Consultant) will approach the local Highway Authority and discuss the scheme in general and scope the parameters required to carry out the project. This will have the advantage of not only getting to know the Highway Officer involved, by agreeing whether the transport evidence required need only be in the form of a Transport Statement, a requirement for smaller developments, or the lengthier and more in depth Transport Assessment Report.

In addition, scoping the development proposals with the Highways Officer will agree what parameters or information would be required in the report as well as getting an early indication as to what are the local issues and what sort of contributions, if any the Highways Authority would look for. This should result in saving time later on once the Application is submitted and reports sent to the client who can then raise issues and make comments.

When carrying out the highway study, the Highways Consultant will generally follow the typical 4 stage model approach. This is where the consultant will look at the developments likely traffic generation, secondly look at how the traffic distributes across the highway network. Next the consultant will consider the modal split of the traffic, such as the split between types of vehicle (car, bus, cycle etc) as well as considering pedestrians or any other mode of transport, and finally to assign the traffic to the local highway network.

By following the 4 stage model, the Highways Consultant will have a good prediction of travel characteristics of the development proposals. By comparing these with what is currently happening on the local highway network, this may need traffic surveys to get a present day snapshot, The consultants can assess the significance of the additional development traffic, if any, would have on the operation of the local highway network for the opening year of the development proposals or the design year which could be a number of years ahead.

However, if there is no significant impact then there may be no need for any off-site highway works, but if there is a significant impact then the highways consultant can assess and advise the Client on what highway works will need to be carried out, such as junction improvements or road widening. Any such highway schemes would then require a Road Safety Audit, carried out by an independent highway consultancy.

In some instances the impact of additional development traffic could be mitigated by encouraging the developments end users to make fewer car journeys by car sharing, promoting cycle, bus and pedestrian forms of travel. In such cases the consultant would prepare a separate document called a Travel Plan which would bring all this information as well as advising on how to monitor the effectiveness of the Travel Plan and identify targets for the end users to achieve.

After all the above information has been prepared, the consultant will continue to liaise with the local Highway Authority in order to discuss any other issues or concerns that may arise with the aim to get the Highways Officer to recommend the scheme to the Planning Officer.

Peter Jessop Price is a director at Modal Group Ltd who are leading transport planning consultants in the UK. As transport consultants, Modal Group provides a full range of consultancy services including transport assessments, travel plans, road safety audits and traffic surveys as part of both residential and commercial development schemes.

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