Trudy Dean, Member for Malling Central and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at Kent County Council asked Matthew Balfour, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, the following question:
"Would the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport please say what the Government's current policy is with regard to assessing submissions from Local Authorities and individuals to Planning Applications on the basis of the impact of traffic generation?
Could he in his reply include the cumulative effect of multiple applications feeding onto the same road network, and say what effect this policy has on the County Council's ability to obtain adequate contributions towards particularly road improvements, and the County Council's ability to influence the preparation of Local Plans."
The Government policy which applies to how highway authorities advise on local plans and assess planning applications is contained within the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework. As highway authority KCC is a statutory consultee in the planning process, but not the final decision maker.
KCC is consulted when local planning authorities are developing local plans and will advise on transport strategies needed to accommodate growth and where necessary improvements should be secured.
Where our views are sought on planning applications, the Framework states that developments must be assessed in terms of their 'residual cumulative impacts'. This means we must take into account the traffic generation from the established land use of the site and its' highway impact in determining the net impact of the planning application.
We take account of the cumulative effect of developments which have been granted planning permissions when assessing projected traffic flows on the highway network, but in accordance with the Framework, applicants can only be reasonably required to put in place measures that mitigate the net impact of their proposal on the network.
The overall Government policy in this area is a presumption in favour of development to contribute to housing targets and facilitate growth. Development can only be prevented or refused on transport grounds where its' impact is considered to be 'severe'. The use of the word severe is not defined, but it effectively prevents highways authorities from recommending objections to proposals that could result in some worsening of an existing congestion problem.