Transport planning

Carbon emissions from transport in Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth are affected by national policies and by the planning strategies of Hertfordshire County Council, East Herts council and the town councils.

National government

The UK Government has recognised that transport has a huge role to play in the economy reaching net zero and committed to setting out policies in a Transport Decarbonisation Plan, in 2020. The covid pandemic resulted in a huge reduction in transport which will have reduced emissions from transport in 2020, but on some days in August and September 2020 car use returned to pre-pandemic levels and in May 2021 was nearly back again, while light vans are higher than previous levels. The Government is yet to produce its Transport Decarbonisation Plan. It is now due in “Spring 2021”.

Existing elements of national policy:

  • the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be phased out date from 2030
  • from 2035 all new cars and vans must be fully zero emission at the tailpipe, following this government consultation
  • the desire to see a step change in cycling and walking in the coming years, with a vision for cycling and walking at the heart of transport, place-making, and health policy

The Government provides funding for cycling and walking initiatives which local authorities can bid for, £2 billion over 5 years was announced in 2020.

Despite these positive statements, the Government’s Roads Programme has not been reviewed to switch funding into support for more sustainable transport. It is currently £27 billion, for 2020-25.  

Hertfordshire County Council

HCC is responsible for highways, footpaths and local bus strategy. 

HCC consulted on a Transport Vision for 2050 and then set its Local Transport Plan (LTP4) for 2018-31 to “accelerate the transition from a previous transport strategy that was largely car based, to a more balanced approach which caters for all forms of transport and seeks to encourage a switch from the private car to sustainable transport (e.g. walking, cycling and passenger transport) wherever possible” [10].

HCC has a raft of strategies to support its LTP4, including a policy of working with selected towns named as Sustainable Travel Towns. In 2020 it rejected the bid from East Herts District Council (Shaping Stortford) for Bishop’s Stortford to become a STT.

HCC consulted in 2020 on a draft Growth and Transport Plan (GTP) for the Eastern area, including Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth. Together with Bishop’s Stortford Civic Federation we concluded that this did not adequately address the local transport pressures nor provide a ‘Making Best Use’ Strategy to respond to the impacts from growth in our area [12]. The HCC capital strategy shows that there is very limited funding for the delivery of GTP schemes across the county: active travel funding of £3m 2021/22 and 2022/23 and other budgets for 20mph policy, climate change policy, local roads maintenance.

The draft GTP includes a route from Stansted to Lea Valley, via Bishop’s Stortford, Sawbridgeworth, Harlow etc which is at conceptual stage. This route includes options for crossing the M11, which are also being considered by the Flitch Way Action Group, to provide linkage to disconnected National Cycle Network routes 1 and 11.

HCC’s Sustainability Strategy also includes a strand of work on transport, addressing emissions from its own use of transport and aiming to enable use of low/zero carbon transport and to inspire others to adopt them. Detailed actions have not yet been disclosed.

East Herts District Council

EHDC is responsible for parking policy and development planning

The District Plan requires developers to comply with policy TRA1 on Sustainable Transport, but we, and others, have repeatedly identified that proposed new developments in the town/area do not plan to fully mitigate their impacts on traffic and financial contributions to off-site sustainable transport schemes are derisory.

The East Herts Sustainability Action Plan includes actions to encourage electric taxis; a few limited actions on support for e-vehicle charging and to discourage idling; and generic work with HCC Transport “to review existing funds/projects and future allocations to ensure facilitation of the Council’s climate and sustainability ambitions with a joined up approach”.

EHDC established Shaping Stortford to “look at the future of the whole town”, collectively with HCC and Bishop’s Stortford Town Council, which has overseen production of reports on Transport Options, Parking and 20 mph policy to inform HCC’s highways planning. EHDC has not endorsed the Transport Options report. Shaping Stortford is currently steering work on a permanent scheme for timed pedestrianisation of South Street and Potter Street.

Bishop’s Stortford Town Council

The town council engages with the environment in the town and seeks to influence planning decisions taken by the District Council and transport planning by the County Council.

The Town Council has a Walking and Cycling Strategy for the town. It proposes a ‘spine’ route alongside the railway through Castle Park, Grange Paddocks to the north of the town and this is considered fundable, with HCC/EHDC Countryside Management Services tasked with project managing its delivery. The Town Council has funded design work on three of the ‘spoke’ routes into the town – from Bishop’s Park, Sainsbury’s Thorley and Parsonage Lane. The Councils have not identified funding for their delivery (each will cost between £200,000 and £550,000). The Council has funded and installed some additional cycle parking in the town centre.

The Bishop’s Stortford and Part of Thorley Neighbourhood Plan seeks to secure development which supports solutions to congestion and poor air quality; creates and promotes sustainable travel networks; provides adequate car parking; manages traffic speeds and promotes road safety; and contributes to improved town accessibility and connectivity