Ended on the 18 March 2021
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Chapter 11: A Sustainable Travel Town

(9) A Sustainable Transport Town

11.1 The approach to managing transport in Watford is a key challenge, given its significant impact on major factors, such as economic productivity, air quality, public health and carbon emissions. With respect to the Climate Emergency, transport remains the largest emitting sector of greenhouse gases in the UK[6], whilst the town also has the highest levels of deaths attributed to air pollution in Hertfordshire. Working collaboratively with transport providers including Hertfordshire County Council as the Local Highway Authority, Highways England, and both bus and rail operators, the importance of a strategic direction to the development of transport options for Watford is reflected in the development of a Sustainable Transport Strategy, which should be considered alongside the Local Plan. Without significant change, the transport network will increasingly be a limiting factor on the borough's aspirations for economic productivity, environmental sustainability, community vitality and public health, amongst others.

11.2 Watford's compact urban form has significant potential to encourage people to walk and cycle more to local destinations, services and facilities, reflected by the fact that of trips made by Watford residents, 19% are less than one mile, with a further 36% being between one and three miles. This highlights the opportunity for more active travel if people have access to routes that get them to where they want to be in a way that is safe, efficient and enjoyable.

11.3 The combination of the Climate Emergency, the dominance of the car in the current modal share, and the potential for active travel based upon the volume of short-distance trips, means that new developments will need to be designed to encourage a modal shift in the town that reduces local people's dependency on cars in favour of increased walking, cycling and public transport use. This will contribute towards reducing congestion, addressing climate change and air quality issues, as well as bringing health and economic benefits.

11.4 Hertfordshire County Council has adopted the Hertfordshire Local Transport Plan (2018). The South West Herts Growth and Transport Plan (2019) is the key supporting document to the Local Transport Plan, with an emphasis on improving health and generating modal shift away from car use. The Local Plan supports the Local Transport Plan and will facilitate delivery where possible. Additional county-wide transport strategies, to which development should align, include the Intalink Bus Strategy (2019), draft Rail Strategy (2020), and forthcoming Highways Network Management Strategy. To encourage more sustainable forms of travel, applicants should design schemes to reflect the Transport User Hierarchy priorities in the sequential order shown in Figure 11.1.

Figure 11.1: Transport User Hierarchy

11.5 Measures that encourage the uptake of sustainable modes, including new, high quality cycle networks, walking infrastructure and bus prioritisation will be supported. In addition, measures that reduce through traffic flows and speeds, including low traffic neighbourhoods and 20mph speed limits, will be encouraged. The enhancement of public transport provision will be prioritised through the safeguarding of land required for major interventions, such as new interchange spaces, mass rapid transit and upgrades to existing hubs, as well as supporting the County Council in delivering the public transport actions set out in its transport strategies.

11.6 Watford Borough Council aims for Watford to become a Sustainable Travel Town (Figure 11.2), as advocated by the Local Transport Plan, where the perception to all highway users is that pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users will have a greater priority than they do at present. It will be expected that major new development will be located in areas of high sustainability where there is existing, or the potential for, high public transport accessibility, and that key services will be accessible by walking or cycling, with developments contributing to significant improvements to sustainable transport routes. Where this is the case it is expected that the provision of car parking will be highly limited, effectively removing in-built car dependence.

11.7 Land use decisions made through the Local Plan development process can shape and facilitate change in transport provision and travel choices. However, to successfully achieve a meaningful and sustained shift in travel behaviour, attractive alternatives to the private car are required. This is the start of a long-term process of change that will continue beyond the Local Plan end date of 2036, and will work within the framework of the South West Herts Joint Strategic Plan and the multi-modal study that goes up to 2050.

(2) Strategic Policy ST11.1: Sustainable Travel Town

New development will be supported in principle where it contributes towards sustainable and active travel behaviour, respecting the Transport User Hierarchy (Figure 11.1) set out in the County Council's Local Transport Plan and Watford's ambition to be a sustainable travel town. It should create an urban environment where people choose to walk and cycle, whilst reducing the impact of cars on the transport network, and promoting the use of public transport. Proposals will need to demonstrate how they contribute positively towards the Council's Climate Emergency declaration and are expected to bring public health, air quality and economic productivity benefits.

Development proposals should align with the principles set out below that aim to achieve better integration of land use planning and transport planning and develop a Sustainable Travel Town with a more active population. They should support the objectives of Hertfordshire County Council's Local Transport Plan, and supporting strategies, plus contribute to the Growth and Transport Plan packages in the Local Transport Plan and subsequent updates, as well as aligning with Watford's forthcoming Sustainable Transport Strategy and Local Cycling and Walking Implementation Plan.

To promote active travel the following initiatives should be embedded in development plans:

  1. Developing Watford as a Walking and Cycle Infrastructure Improvement Town, supporting the growth of shared mobility offerings that include bike share schemes;
  2. Creating neighbourhoods that encourage people to walk or cycle, through the provision or contribution to high quality walking and cycle routes that enhance connectivity and reduce severance; and
  3. Measures that reduce traffic speed and flow.

Developments will be supported where they improve public transport connectivity through:

  1. Contributing to the development of comprehensive priority measures for buses with supporting high quality, accessible bus stops and service improvements where required, to enhance existing services and demand responsive transport throughout the town;
  2. Supporting the development of mass rapid transit in Watford;
  3. Preserving and improving Watford Junction as a strategic transport hub for both rail and bus users, with excellent access routes, interchanges and other facilities enabling sustainable 'first and last mile' travel; and
  4. Supporting a Sustainable Transport Hub within the town centre that serves as a focal point for multiple modes.

To reduce car dependency and the impact of private motor vehicles developments should:

  1. Contribute to traffic-demand management measures introduced that promote mode shift away from private cars;
  2. Provide provision for car clubs and electric vehicles, as set out in Policy ST11.5 'Car Parking, Car Clubs and Electric Vehicles'; and
  3. Produce Travel Assessments and Travel Plans where required by, and in line with, Hertfordshire County Council's relevant guidance.

(3) Protecting and enhancing future public transport routes and Watford Junction station area as a transport hub

11.8 Watford benefits from being home to a number of key transport interchanges and routes, and is an established transport hub for the South West Hertfordshire area. This transport infrastructure should be retained and enhanced where necessary to meet the needs of those who live, work and visit. There is an expectation that an uplift in densities will also aid the provision and maintenance of public transport on a borough-wide basis.

11.9 A variety of measures will need to be pursued and supported, including those identified in the South West Herts Growth and Transport Plan. The Council will support all of these where it can, including safeguarding routes for future active or public transport provision. The disused former Croxley Rail Line provides a potential future route for mass rapid transit, as well as an opportunity for a walking and cycling link. As such, the route and access to it should be safeguarded to maintain the possibility of its use by these modes; details of the land to be preserved are set out within the Watford Mass Rapid Transit Safeguarding Technical Report.

11.10 The Ebury Way cycle path provides a direct, traffic-free cycle and walking route between Watford and Rickmansworth, providing a valuable commuting and leisure route. It should therefore be preserved, including access to it, with opportunities sought to enhance its quality, particularly in making it an all-weather route.

11.11 The Abbey Line is an important public transport link between Watford and St Albans, enhancing regional connectivity. The status of this route, as being used for public transport, should be safeguarded.

11.12 Plans for an enhanced walking and cycling network are set out within the Local Cycle and Walking Infrastructure Plan. This network will be critical to Watford being a town where active travel is the natural first choice for short journeys. Thus, development should not prevent the ability of these networks to be delivered.

11.13 Hertfordshire County Council is developing plans for a new, mass rapid transit system to significantly increase connectivity across the county. This will bring significant benefits to Watford, and it is expected therefore that proposed routes for this system will not be prevented by new development.

11.14 Watford Junction is the busiest railway station in Hertfordshire. The adjacent bus station, along with taxi rank provision, cycle and walking links and car parking mean that it serves as a multi-modal transport hub for both the town and the wider region. Growth around the station is unlikely to be possible without alterations to the built environment to unlock sites and improve accessibility to sustainable travel. The ability to deliver key transport infrastructure must therefore be preserved. This should include the provision of two new pedestrian / cycle bridges to overcome severance caused by the rail lines. One of which should cross both the West Coast Main Line and Abbey Line, preferably as part of, or within the vicinity of, Watford Junction Station, and the second being between Penn Road and Colonial Way. Links to these should accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists, and be accessible to non-station users 24 hours a day, to maximise the permeability of the area.

11.15 A key requirement in developing Watford Junction as a transport hub is ensuring the existing bus station is well integrated with Watford Junction Station, as well as making travelling by bus as attractive as possible. Opportunities for improved infrastructure and facilities for passengers and bus operator staff should be preserved, and the bus and rail station should not be separated. A further element to the re-development of the area is a new multi-mobility hub, containing a multi-storey car park as well as facilities for a range of other modes, to be located immediately east of the station, space for which should be preserved. Improvements to the road network through an extension of Imperial Way, to provide a connection with the new proposed mobility hub and the rerouting of vehicle access to the concrete batching plant via Imperial Way, should also be facilitated.

(6) Policy ST11.2: Protecting and Enhancing Future Public Transport Routes and Watford Junction Station Area as a Transport Hub

To prevent development that would compromise future mass transit, bus prioritisation, walking, and cycling infrastructure, set out in either the South West Hertfordshire Growth and Transport Plan, the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan or Watford's Sustainable Transport Strategy, the following routes will be protected from development whose designs would compromise their ability to prioritise public transport and active travel routes:

  1. The disused, former Croxley Rail Line, including access points, as set out in the Watford MRT Safeguarding Technical Report;
  2. The current Ebury Way cycle path and access to it;
  3. The Abbey Line;
  4. Current and planned cycle routes identified in the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan;
  5. Planned mass rapid transit routes identified by Hertfordshire County Council.

All routes are represented in Figure 11.3.

The role of Watford Junction as a multi-modal hub should be preserved, meaning that development must not hinder the provision of the following on-site and cross-boundary infrastructure;

  1. New pedestrian / cycle bridges over the West Coast Main Line and Abbey Line and connecting Penn Road with Colonial Way, plus access to these;
  2. Bus and rail access that also provides for cycles, electric vehicles, drop-off movements, taxis, coaches and future mass rapid transit access;
  3. Extension of Imperial Way to provide a connection to the station and the rerouting of vehicle access to the concrete batching plant via Imperial Way;
  4. Upgrading of the bus station and bus priority improvements to roads in the vicinity of the station.             

(6) Providing sustainable transport infrastructure for major development

11.16 A number of areas within the town are anticipated to experience significant levels of development within the Local Plan timescales or are located around major transport infrastructure. These areas are shown in Figure 11.3. Without appropriate mitigations, new development will likely affect the functioning of the local transport network. A key mitigation will be the reduced provision of car parking (Policy ST11.5, 'Car Parking, Car Clubs and Electric Vehicles') that, in turn, will require the provision of alternative transport options. The sustainable transport requirements for these areas are set out within this policy. In particular, attention should be paid to providing internal permeability to walking and cycling, as well as complete, high quality routes to key destinations, overcoming severance where encountered.

Colne Valley

11.17 Modelling forecasts that, without mitigation, potential development will have an impact on all major links into Watford, with particularly high impacts on Lower High Street, Beechen Grove Gyratory, and Waterfields Way. Therefore, where development sits within the Core Development Area it is expected that sites will be car-lite, with car-free being encouraged for those in closest proximity to Watford High Street Station.

11.18 Given its central location, and proximity to existing public transport networks, there is significant potential for the area to be supported by sustainable transport. Development should support the creation of a sustainable, multi-modal transport hub at the High Street / Water Lane junction. The location of the site between the town centre, Bushey Arches, Watford General Hospital, and Watford Riverwell means that development will be supported where permeability for people walking and cycling is enhanced from current levels through the provision of direct, high quality routes and an internal road network that ensures traffic volumes and speeds are low. Provision should also be made for active travel links to the termination of the former Croxley Green Line on Wiggenhall Road.

Figure 11.3: Areas for transport improvements in Watford, and routes to be safeguarded

11.19 Lower High Street should be seen as a corridor primarily for sustainable transport, preserving the current high frequency bus service, as well as accommodating mass rapid transit, plus being a key walking and cycling route for the site. To enhance bus services, introducing bus priority measures on the ring road should also be supported. Ensuring access to the site for people walking and cycling should also be considered as part of development in the area, including upgrading the public realm and reducing severance at the Lower High Street / Exchange Road junction, plus providing high quality cycle routes on Lower High Street and Wiggenhall Road. As a noted accident hotspot, contribution should also be made to a revised junction layout at the intersection of Waterfields Way and Lower High Street.

Bushey Arches

11.20 Whilst the scale of expected development is relatively limited, Bushey Arches is a known congestion hotspot, and an Air Quality Management Area has previously been declared for Pinner Road and Chalk Hill, so the traffic impacts of any development will need to be carefully considered. Without additional intervention, modelling suggests increasing stress on Lower High Street, south of Waterfields Way, and the Bushes Arches Gyratory, as well as a number of further links, including Pinner Road being over capacity. It is therefore expected that development around Bushey Arches will support a package of sustainable transport interventions that is coherent with those to the north, around Lower High Street. Developments should make sure that best use is made of existing public transport in the area, in particular by contributing to high quality walking and cycling links to Bushey Station and upgrading those around the Bushey Arches Gyratory. Bus priority measures around the gyratory and connecting to a Lower High Street sustainable transport corridor should also be supported.

Watford Riverwell

11.21 Development beyond that already granted permission is not anticipated to be significant. However, new trips from development in the Riverwell area are likely to increase congestion and delays on the town centre road network and links such as the A4178, Vicarage Road and Harwood Road in the immediate vicinity. It is therefore expected that new development must contribute to sustainable transport infrastructure that makes the most of the area being within walking distance of the town centre and local transport hubs. Contributions could be expected to bus prioritisation measures on Vicarage Road, whilst permeability for cycling and walking should be substantially improved. In particular, active travel routes should link Watford General Hospital, Stripling Way, Thomas Sawyer Way and Ebury Way through the area, and additional infrastructure should be provided on routes around the site, such as Vicarage Road and Wiggenhall Road.

Ascot Road

11.22 Whilst the highway network of the Ascot Road Area currently operates without congestion at most times, several locations are expected to see large increases in traffic levels during the Local Plan period, particularly around the Ascot Road / Hatters Lane / Blackmoor Lane / Greenhill Crescent Roundabout.

11.23 To ensure bus services become a primary travel option for residents and employees in this area, development should support Ascot Road becoming a sustainable transport corridor, with significantly improved cycle infrastructure and bus priority measures. Existing pedestrian and cycle links between Croxley View and Greenhill Crescent improve local connectivity, and the Council will support new development that ensures this access is protected and enhanced, to maximise the permeability of the area. The road network within the area features few high quality cycle lanes. New developments will therefore be required to provide significantly upgraded cycle lanes on key routes to sites, and site layouts should integrate connections to these routes where possible, to deliver a cohesive cycling environment. The Council will support proposals to improve cycle links in the Holywell area including re-surfacing the Ebury Way (and new connections to it) to maximise use, alongside enhanced east-west cycle facilities along Harwoods Road / Chester Road / Queens Avenue to Whippendale Road and along Vicarage Road. New development in the Ascot Road Area should preserve the opportunity for providing mass rapid transit and walking and cycling on the disused Croxley Railway line, including safeguarding land for a potential terminus.

St Albans Road

11.24 Several congestion hotspots exist within this area, with St Albans Road, the A41 and the Dome Roundabout particularly under stress. It should also be noted that an Air Quality Management Area was required on St Albans Road (revoked in 2019) and journey times for bus travel are long. These issues will be exacerbated if new development does not support sustainable transport.

11.25 St Albans Road is a key strategic route serving the Dome Roundabout area for both car and public transport users, due to its connections with the town centre to the south and strategic roads to the M1. A shift to non-car-based modes of travel should be targeted for this corridor via improved highway infrastructure for bus priority. The corridor also has the potential to become a key cycle route, providing direct links to destinations and transport interchanges. Developments will therefore be supported that contribute to significantly enhanced, continuous walking and cycling infrastructure along the corridor, including overcoming severance and bus journey time delays caused by the Dome Roundabout.

Town Centre

11.26 Development sites within Watford Town Centre have high accessibility to public transport options, as well as services, amenities and employment opportunities within convenient walking and cycling distances. Many of the arterial roads leading towards the town centre are congested at peak times currently, and high traffic levels on the central ring road affect bus journey times and reliability as well as it causing significant severance. It will therefore be expected that parking provision will be minimised at all new developments with car-free development encouraged, and contribution made to the development of enhanced public transport and active travel infrastructure in the town centre.

11.27 This would include bus priority interventions along and in the vicinity of the ring road, as well as preserving its ability to become part of a mass rapid transit route. The potential to develop a sustainable transport hub and interchange point at the High Street / Water Lane junction should also be supported. High quality and convenient cycle routes, especially those that facilitate north-south and east-west movement are required to encourage people to choose cycling as a primary mode of travel for short-to–medium-distance trips, notably along Hempstead Road, Rickmansworth Road and St Albans Road. All developments should support significantly enhanced cycle and walking infrastructure provision, through being highly permeable and contributing to complete routes that overcome the severance of the ring road, particularly at the Derby Road, Water Lane, Lower High Street, Vicarage Rd and Market Street junctions.

Watford Gateway

11.28 Being focused on a strategic, multi-modal transport hub, public transport accessibility in Watford Gateway is high and thus it is expected that developments will be car-lite, with car free encouraged. In addition to the internal requirements set out in Policy ST11.2, 'Protecting and Enhancing Future Public Transport Routes and Watford Junction Station Area as a Transport Hub', contribution should be made to high quality cycle and walking infrastructure to access the area from all directions. This should include a link north via Bradshaw Road to Balmoral Road as well as infrastructure along, and to cross, St Albans Road.

(4) Policy ST11.3: Providing Sustainable Transport Infrastructure for Major Development

Major developments should maximise opportunities for sustainable transport, protecting and supporting current and future active and public transport routes.

Cycling and walking infrastructure should be high quality and provide complete routes to key destinations, such as the town centre, transport hubs, employment centres, educational or community facilities. In addition, for each of the following areas, as indicated in Figure 11.3, the principles set out below should be observed and the infrastructure requirements set out in Appendix C be positively supported by major developments, in addition to the safeguarding requirements set out in Policy ST11.2 'Protecting and Enhancing Future Public Transport Routes and Watford Junction Station Area as a Transport Hub'.

Colne Valley Strategic Development Area

Developments should expect that their transport needs here are met primarily by sustainable transport objectives, and as such should be car-lite. Lower High Street should serve primarily as a sustainable travel corridor, with high quality direct pedestrian access from sites. The provision of an internal travel network that is highly permeable to those who wish to walk or cycle, with direct, high quality links and low-traffic streets between the town centre, Oxhey, Vicarage Road, Watford General Hospital and Riverwell should be ensured. Bus prioritisation measures should be provided on key access links.

Bushey Arches

Developments should support the ambitions for sustainable transport options around Lower High Street, and also make best use of existing public transport infrastructure, by supporting the delivery of new and significantly improved high quality walking and cycle links to Bushey Station and Arches; overcoming the severance caused by the current highway layout.

St Albans Road

Developments will be expected to support significant improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure along St Albans Road and at the Dome Roundabout, alongside implementation of bus priority measures, mitigating potential junction delays for buses on main thoroughfares and junctions.

Watford Riverwell

Permeability for active travel should be substantially improved, linking to bus stops, Watford General Hospital, Vicarage Road, Stripling Way, Thomas Sawyer Way and Ebury Way. Developments should contribute to bus priority or cycle infrastructure on Vicarage Road and Wiggenhall Road.

Ascot Road

Development should contribute positively towards Ascot Road becoming a sustainable transport corridor through new and significantly enhanced bus priority measures and pedestrian / cycle infrastructure. Improvement to active travel permeability and routes should include significant enhancement to links between Croxley View and Greenhill Crescent, to Tolpits Lane, to the Ebury Way and further east-west routes to the town centre.

Town Centre Strategic Development Area

Development should at a minimum be car-lite, and car-free should also be considered. Bus priority interventions along, and in the vicinity of, the ring road should be supported. Development should support the delivery of high quality cycle and walking routes across and to the Town Centre, linking to key destinations. Development should contribute to reducing the severance caused by the ring road.

Watford Gateway Strategic Development Area

All major developments will be expected to significantly enhance pedestrian and cycle routes through the Watford Gateway area by providing high quality internal infrastructure and links to the Town Centre, North Watford and towards Bushey. The development of the station as a multi-modal hub should also be supported, including the access requirements for this across all modes.

(4) A walking and cycling infrastructure improvement town

11.29 Consideration of how best to facilitate walking and cycling trips must be integral to all design. A key principle of the Local Transport Plan is 'modal shift and encouraging active travel', noting that 'the potential public health benefits of increased levels of active travel indicate this should be a high priority, and a key feature of the future transport system we are planning for'. This contributes towards the wider objective within the Local Transport Plan promoting Watford as a Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Improvement Town.

Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Implementation Plan

11.30 The forthcoming Watford and Three Rivers Local Cycling and Walking Implementation Plan will identify routes and improvements that comprise, but are not limited to, the provision of pedestrian crossings, segregated cycle routes, and enhanced junctions, to facilitate a more comprehensive and safe cycling and walking network that connects to local destinations and encourages less reliance on private vehicle travel.

11.31 Developments should ensure that their design encourages walking and cycling and respects the Local Transport Plan Transport User Hierarchy that prioritises active travel, through being permeable to people both walking and cycling, with high quality footpaths, and design that reduces vehicle dominance and encourages cycling by all. This should be supported by signage that aligns with Watford's existing wayfinding approach.

Cycle parking

11.32 Consideration of the needs for cycling parking play a key part in ensuring that design encourages cycling. The absence of high quality cycle parking, with its resulting inconvenience and fear of theft, is a key barrier to people choosing to cycle. Without an easily accessible and secure place for people to store their cycle, both at home and at their destination, they are unlikely to choose to cycle their journey.

11.33 In designing cycling parking, attention should be paid to the difference in requirements for long-stay parking, required where people will leave their cycle for an extended period, for example, at home, work, place of education or a station, and thus place a premium on security, compared to short-stay parking, for example, outside a retail location, where convenience is the key factor. Cycle parking standards are set out in Appendix D and parking should be laid out in accordance to the Watford Cycle Parking Supplementary Planning Document.

Cycle parking in residential developments

11.34 The manner in which residential cycle parking is provided will depend on characteristics of the development:

  1. In large apartment complexes, single, large, communal storage does not provide sufficient security. Multiple cycle storage areas or individual storage compartments located outside the apartment, within the blueprint of the building, that are capable of taking cycles, prams and other large items, should be provided;
  2. For smaller developments or converted buildings, a secure, accessible communal area should be provided that includes space for non-standard cycles, such as cargo bikes, adapted cycles or tandems;
  3. For houses, cycle storage should be at the rear, the side or within the building, as storage at the front can be unsightly, and tends to advertise to thieves that cycles are there. Where adequate cycle parking cannot be provided within residential developments, alternative cycle parking arrangements for residents should be provided, such as the provision of a provision of a cycle hangar on the highway in a location agreed with the Council.

Cycle parking in non-residential developments

11.35 Secure cycle storage for staff and visitors should be provided as part of new non-residential developments. These should be part of a wider approach to encourage cycling that includes the provision of changing facilities and showers, encouraging a long-term modal shift away from single-occupancy vehicle use.

11.36 To support commuting to employment and education destinations, security is particularly important. Provision for employees or students should have employee-only access storage areas that are covered and include space for non-standard cycles, along with showering and changing facilities within the building. At primary and nursery schools, an appropriate proportion of long-stay cycle parking for students may be met through scooter parking.

Location of cycle parking

11.37 All major non-residential developments and residential developments should provide short-stay cycle parking for visitors who will not be able to access parking provided for employees or residents. This should be convenient and readily accessible, preferably in the form of Sheffield Stands within 15m of the main entrance where possible, so that the ease of cycling is not undermined by a lengthy search for suitable parking. For primary schools and nurseries, short-stay cycle parking should be located and designed to accommodate at least two parental cargo bikes or cycles with trailers.

Bicycle hire and share schemes

11.38 Not all residents or visitors to Watford will own or have access to a cycle within the town. The town's bike-share scheme provides access to bikes for those without access to a personal cycle. These bikes are stored at bays across the town and can easily be hired for use via a mobile phone app. Users collect and deposit the bikes at a bay at the start and completion of their trip, thus it is important that sufficient bays are available near to all potential destinations to support the scheme. The provision of bike share bays where it would support the wider bike share network, in agreement with the Local Authority, will be encouraged and could replace some on-site visitor parking provision.

11.39 In the largest of developments it is encouraged that this is in the form of a bike share parklet that combines standard cycle parking with bike share bays. The requirements for bike share bays is specified in the cycle parking standards in Appendix D. To preserve the ability to enhance the bike share infrastructure, any land set aside to support the installation of a bike share bay will be safeguarded should installation not take place immediately.

(4) Policy ST11.4: A Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Improvement Town

New development will be supported where it will contribute towards achieving a modal shift and make walking and cycling a convenient and efficient way to access local destinations. To be integrated into the adjacent and strategic walking and cycling network, proposals should demonstrate how they have prioritised walking and cycling through the provision of on-site infrastructure including cycle parking facilities, wayfinding measures and good design for safety and security. Major developments should contribute towards the delivery of significantly improved walking and cycling routes to key destinations, prior to first occupancy, where viable.


Developments should be permeable and safe to walk through, including high quality footways and pedestrian crossings, adequate lighting and signposting. They should facilitate or deliver the links required to connect to existing and proposed walking routes as well as local amenities and public transport. Developments adjacent to the borough's walking routes, as identified in the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, will be expected to accommodate them through allocating space and supporting off-site contributions.


Developments will encourage people to cycle by providing an urban environment that is accessible and safe for all cycle trips. This requires high quality cycle routes that are segregated, unless both traffic flows and speeds are low. These routes should connect to local amenities, transport interchanges and the existing and proposed cycle network, as set out in the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. Developments adjacent to existing and new cycle routes will be expected to facilitate and deliver these links through allocating space and contributing to infrastructure improvements.

Cycle parking

All development proposals will be required to provide on-site cycle parking facilities in line with the cycle parking standards detailed in Appendix D. Secure cycle parking facilities should be designed at the outset of the scheme. Should the standards for visitor cycle parking mean a requirement in excess of ten spaces, part of this provision can be replaced with a contribution to publicly-accessible bike share bays in a suitable location nearby, further detail on this is provided in Appendix D.

(1) Car parking, car clubs and electric vehicles

11.40 Controlling car parking and providing alternatives to personal vehicle ownership have been found to be some of the most effective methods for managing demand and thus addressing issues such as the perception of a car-dominated environment, congestion, unreliable journey times, diminished air quality and higher carbon emissions amongst others. Advancing transport technology has the potential to drastically change how travel is managed and undertaken and opportunities are to be taken through new development to help future-proof the borough to support electric vehicle charging and shared mobility solutions, such as car clubs.

11.41 There is limited space available to support new development, and new schemes will be expected to make the most efficient use of the land available for redevelopment. Continuing to provide excessive car-related infrastructure, particularly overgenerous parking, will exacerbate existing issues associated with the transport network and the environment. These requirements will also support Watford becoming a Sustainable Travel Town (Policy ST11.1 'Sustainable Travel Town') by encouraging mode shift away from private car trips and thus reducing the impact of transport on the environment.

(1) Car parking standards

11.42 New development in all areas of the borough is to provide car parking that is reflective of the needs of its location and encourages greater proportions of people to use alternative transport modes to the private vehicle in the long term.

11.43 Car parking standards (Appendix E) have been set in consideration to the Core Strategic Development Area, the availability of public transport modes and the type of development, in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework. The car parking standards provided are maximums, to support Local Plan objectives by helping reduce overall car use and pressure on highway networks and infrastructure. Provision should take into consideration alternative forms of mobility, such as car club vehicles and seek to minimise the risk of off-site parking impacts.

11.44 Developments that are likely to result in material impacts to highway safety as a result of insufficient parking will be refused. Development in the Core Development Area will be severely restricted (i.e. 'car-lite'), and this will be enforced via Section 106 agreements. This is to minimise congestion in this area by discouraging vehicles where there are excellent public transport options available.

Allocated and unallocated parking spaces

11.45 For all new residential developments, the standards set out a requirement for a proportion of parking spaces to be unallocated to any particular user. This is intended to accommodate vehicles that visit the site irregularly (such as visitors) who may otherwise struggle to find a parking space on site, and car club vehicles. Where parking spaces are allocated, they should be leased rather than sold. This will ensure that parking areas are used efficiently and reduces the risk of spaces being left vacant for any period of time. This policy requirement also supports development land being adaptable for the needs of subsequent users.

Car parking and controlled parking zones

11.46 There is a recognition that for low levels of on-site car parking to work most effectively, it needs to be combined with on-street parking restrictions, one of the most effective modes of traffic demand management. This is particularly important for the areas located in the Core Development Area. Controlled Parking Zones are well established in the borough and will be kept under review as part of the Council's approach to traffic management. New development should not increase parking demand in Controlled Parking Zones and users will therefore be exempt, or subject to restriction, from obtaining permits to existing Controlled Parking Zones.

Parking for disabled persons

11.47 Though parking may be restricted across the borough, the need to provide parking for people with reduced mobility remains an important requirement as part of Watford's ambitions to become a more accessible, inclusive borough. Disabled persons' parking should form a proportion of the overall parking provision, rather than being treated as additional. Demand for accessible parking spaces may change over time, and so developers are required to future-proof residential car parks by identifying additional parking spaces that could be converted to disabled persons' parking spaces if needed.

11.48 Disabled persons' parking spaces should not be allocated to specific dwellings, unless they are provided within the curtilage of the dwelling, and all disabled persons' parking spaces should follow relevant design guidance. Recommended parking provisions for non-residential land uses are also provided. Where it is not possible to provide disabled persons' parking at developments due to site constraints or highway safety concerns, the applicant will be required to demonstrate where a disabled person can park to access the development conveniently.

Parking for powered two wheel vehicles

11.49 Powered two wheeled vehicles, such as motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, contribute to reducing congestion and emissions and also provide more efficient use of space than car parking. Providing space to park powered two wheeled vehicles will increase the attractiveness of powered two wheeled vehicles as an alternative to car ownership, and reduce instances of illegal parking which often obstructs footways. Guidance on designing for powered two wheeled vehicles is available from the Institute of Highway Engineers and motorcycle industry groups.

(2) Electric vehicles

11.50 Electric vehicles, that is any road vehicle with a battery that is intended to be charged from mains supply, will be encouraged for use where people are unable to use public transport, walk, or cycle to destinations. Whilst not reducing congestion, a move towards electric vehicles will reduce air pollution in the borough and contribute to local and national carbon-reduction targets.

11.51 The number of electric vehicles is expected to increase further with the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030, and as electric vehicle technology becomes cheaper. It is therefore necessary to ensure that new developments are future-proofed to facilitate this progression. Sufficient electrical capacity in new developments for current and future demand for charging points will therefore be required.

11.52 The parking standards require consideration for the provision for electric vehicles, including one of two types of charging infrastructure:

a) 'Active provision' requires fully wired and connected charging points at parking spaces;

b) 'Passive provision' requires the necessary underlying infrastructure (e.g. capacity in the connection to the local electricity distribution network and electricity distribution board, and cabling to parking spaces) to enable simple installation and activation of a charge point at a future date.

11.53 As electric vehicles become more commonplace around Watford, locations for new electric vehicle charging infrastructure will naturally be focused on trip origins and destinations, where longer charges can take place (such as homes and workplaces). Where charging points are provided at commercial developments, the infrastructure must be able to support a rapid charging service (i.e. a 43kW connection, taking less than one hour for a full charge).

Car clubs

11.54 Car clubs are a form of shared mobility that allows individuals and businesses to have access to a locally parked vehicle for a short-term rental period. Various models are possible including 'back-to-base' and more flexible one-way trip options, and dedicated parking bays are sometimes provided. Coinciding with changing population demographics, there is a recognition that the desire to own a car is reducing, and access to a vehicle for occasional use is becoming increasingly favourable. To support this change, people need to have a choice of easy and convenient transport options on a daily basis to best meet their circumstances. Having car club vehicles located at key journey origins and destinations will mean people can rely on this method of travel being possible when needed, and new developments must therefore support the growth of car clubs in the borough.

11.55 For residential schemes above ten units, developers are required to identify, and safeguard, one unallocated parking space for every 50 units which would become a car club space if needed. Car-free residential developments will be expected to provide such spaces alongside disabled spaces, or contribute to the equivalent volume of on-street car club spaces within short walking distance, if required by the Council. This will help to facilitate and support effective travel planning measures being taken throughout the lifespan of the development.

11.56 Car club spaces should be situated where they are easily accessed and are visible to occupiers of the development and the surrounding neighbourhood. Where parking is inaccessible to the public, the Council may secure contributions to fund on-street car club spaces in the local area or require alterations to parking layouts to allow for accessible parking. Should a car club network become active in the borough, the Council will expect contributions to secure car clubs at new developments and incentivise membership as deemed necessary.

(4) Policy ST11.5: Electric Vehicles, Car Parking and Car Clubs

Electric vehicle charging

For all schemes, 20% of parking spaces should have active charging infrastructure for electric vehicles provided, all other spaces should have passive provision. Proposals to increase the availability of publicly accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure within the borough will also be supported and encouraged.

Car parking

Development proposals should only provide car parking where it complies with the car parking standards set out in Appendix E. All new development proposals within the Core Development Area should be car-lite. Where these standards and requirements are met, the parking element of the proposal will be supported.

For residential schemes of ten units or more, 20% of all parking spaces should be unallocated.

Disabled parking

For residential schemes of ten units or more, disabled persons parking should be provided for at least 5% of units, with a minimum of one space; potential disabled persons' parking spaces for a further 5% of units should be identified on a plan to facilitate conversion as required; wheelchair accessible or adaptable accommodation should provide one unallocated disabled persons' parking space per unit.

For non-residential schemes, provision for disabled persons' parking will be determined on a case-by-case basis through pre-application discussions and an accurate estimate of potential demand provided in the Transport Statement/Assessment.

All disabled parking spaces should be located within 50m of the entrance to the building that it serves, via level access.

Car club parking

The Council will support the development of car club networks within the borough, particularly those using low-emission vehicles. 

For residential schemes of ten units or more, developers should identify one parking space per 50 units that would be designated for car club use only, if supported by a car-club operator (minimum of one space). Where parking is inaccessible to the public, the Council may secure contributions to fund on-street car club spaces. If no car-club spaces are proposed, this should be supported by evidence that there is a no demand from car-club operators for a space within the development. Developers may also be required to provide a financial contribution towards car club memberships for new residents.

Powered two wheeler parking

For all schemes where parking is provided, one powered two wheeler parking space should be provided per 30 car parking spaces (minimum of two per site). All other schemes should provide sufficient powered two wheeler parking for the potential demand for their sites, as assessed in the Transport Statement / Assessment.

(1) Managing the transport impacts of development

Transport Statements and Transport Assessments

11.57 Transport Statements and Transport Assessments seek to assess and reduce the transport impact of a development, and allow the Council to evaluate the scheme's compliance with relevant policies and objectives. They identify the need for mitigation and describe interventions to reduce traffic generation, highway safety risk and environmental impacts, and maximise accessibility.

11.58 A Travel Plan is a long-term management strategy for the site that seeks to deliver sustainable transport objectives. This is regularly reviewed and monitored. It should identify a package of measures for the development to improve accessibility and encourage the use of sustainable modes of travel.

11.59 All Transport Assessments, Statements and Travel Plans should follow the Transport User Hierarchy, as outlined in the Hertfordshire Local Transport Plan.

11.60 Planning applications for developments that will generate significant impact on the transport network must be supported by a Transport Assessment. A Transport Statement may be sufficient instead of a full Transport Assessment, where the development will have relatively low transport implications. Applicants should determine whether a Transport Assessment or Transport Statement is required, based on the thresholds provided in Roads In Hertfordshire: A Design Guide[7].

11.61 Where negative impacts are identified within the Transport Assessment or Statement on the safety or operation of the transport network, mitigation measures should be developed to eliminate or significantly reduce these. Appropriate levels of financial contribution for mitigation measures will be sought from developers towards any interventions required to offset transport impacts via Section 106 planning obligations or planning conditions. Should Hertfordshire County Council's plans for a mass rapid transit system progress, it could be expected that the total value of contributions is agreed via the Transport Assessment process based upon interventions directly related to the site, but that some or all of this maybe ultimately delivered as a financial contribution to the development of the mass rapid transit system.

Travel Plans

11.62 A Travel Plan is required in all cases where a Transport Assessment is needed, as well as other circumstances where local factors make one necessary as determined by the Council. For smaller developments, a Travel Plan Statement, with a reduced quantity of detail, may be sufficient to accompany the planning application. Travel Plans should be produced with regard to Hertfordshire County Council's Travel Plan guidance[8]. Where the travel behaviour of the end user is unknown at the time of the planning application submission, applications will be expected to prepare draft Travel Plans with indicative modal shift targets for the planning application, before agreeing to update the Travel Plan with site-specific data upon occupation.

11.63 The Travel Plan should demonstrate how site users are being encouraged to travel in a sustainable manner, with a package of measures to support this. They should set targets or objectives, with accompanying monitoring, management and enforcement approaches. Monitoring of the Travel Plan's progress should take place on an annual basis for a minimum of five years following full occupation for residential developments, or first occupation for workplace or commercial developments. Travel Plans for educational establishments should be monitored for a minimum of seven years following first occupation. A Travel Plan Review document, covering results, implementation updates and recommended revisions, should be shared with HCC within 30 days of data collection, and this will be assessed and recorded in Hertfordshire's Travel Plan monitoring system. The Council will secure a fee as part of the financial obligations of the planning permission to cover Travel Plan monitoring. Potential Travel Plan measures and objectives are provided within Hertfordshire County Council's guidance, measures that would support take up of the Council's sustainable transport schemes − bike share and on demand bus service − will be encouraged.

11.64 Alongside discussions with Watford Borough Council, applicants are encouraged to engage with the Highway Authority (Hertfordshire County Council) via the transport pre-application advice service to discuss and agree the appropriate level of assessment and the need for other supporting documents to be provided, such as Construction Management Plans and Delivery and Servicing Plans.

(2) Policy ST11.6: Managing the Transport Impacts of Development

A Transport Statement or Transport Assessment is required to support planning applications for all developments that will impact upon the transport network, in accordance with Hertfordshire County Council thresholds. They should set out:

  1. How the development has been designed in line with the Transport User Hierarchy;
  2. How the development will facilitate greater use of sustainable modes of transport;
  3. The impact of all development users on the transport network during and after construction; and
  4. Proposed mitigations for any adverse impacts identified.

A Travel Plan that encourages sustainable travel behaviour should be developed for all developments, meeting the requirements set out by Hertfordshire County Council and should be structured according to their guidance. This should have a clear set of objectives, measures to achieve these and an approach to monitoring and enforcement. Where required, a Construction Management Plan and / or a Delivery and Servicing Plan must also be provided.

Significant negative impacts on the transport network as a result of new development must be satisfactorily mitigated. Developers will be required to contribute to and deliver appropriate transport infrastructure or other mitigation measures, with financial contributions required through planning conditions. This could include an agreement with the Council during the planning process instead for a financial contribution to the proposed mass rapid transit system equivalent to part of all of that required for local mitigations.

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