Summary of the report
Connecting Cheltenham sets out a proposed long term strategy and delivery plan for transport in Cheltenham. It has been developed by working collaboratively with key stakeholders and members through a series of workshops.
These started by identifying the issues that exist in Cheltenham and aspirations that stakeholders wished to deliver here. Key emerging strategy ideas were then tested with stakeholders to ensure the emerging strategy reflects issues and aspirations that are specific to Cheltenham. The enthusiastic and knowledgeable input of stakeholders and members has been critical to the development of this strategy. Key stakeholders included Gloucestershire County Council, Cheltenham Cycle Campaign and bus companies Stagecoach, Pulhams and Marchants.
The component parts of Connecting Cheltenham are shown in the diagram and described in the following paragraphs.
Note on images
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Connecting Cheltenham is framed and informed by the recently completed Place Vision. This sets out the aspiration that 'Cheltenham is a place where everyone thrives'. The delivery of Connecting Cheltenham is key to achieving this.
Drivers for change
The way people and goods travel around impacts on a wide range of issues. A number of these impacts are harmful and provide clear reasons why change is necessary. A key consideration is climate change. Cheltenham Borough Council declared a climate change emergency on 9 July 2019 and this strategy seeks to respond directly to this. There is also a need to provide for increases in travel demand as a result of growth. There are therefore a number of things which are driving the need to change how people move around Cheltenham. These 'drivers for change' can be summarised as:
- Accommodating growth
- Liveability, health and wellbeing
- Equitable and inclusive access to transport
- Local environmental impacts such as air quality
- Townscape quality
- Wider environmental impacts such as climate change
Modes of travel
The strategy recognises that the 'drivers for change' mean that in future people need to travel around using more active, shared and sustainable modes of transport. The use of street space also needs to be more efficient and streets need to be attractive and pleasant and accessible for all.
Connecting Cheltenham sets out a strategy for each mode of transport to achieve this which can be summarised as follows.
In Cheltenham the aim will be to at least maintain levels of walking (which are already high), significantly increase cycling and increase public and shared transport use which is currently mainly bus based.
To significantly increase cycling it will need to appeal to people of all ages and abilities from door to door. To achieve this, there will need to be a transformation in ease of movement and perceived (and real) safety for all cyclists including the least confident and most vulnerable.
Bus based public transport needs to be more reliable in peak hours and to compete with the car it needs to be cost effective, efficient, convenient and pleasant to use. Transforming quality and ease of interchange, introducing bus priority at delay points and moving towards cleaner buses and multi-operator ticketing will all be key to achieving this.
Transforming the town centre interchange into a high quality 'hub' and creating a high quality sense of arrival at the station will also be important.
The strategy recognises that personal motorised transport such as the car is always likely to be part of the transport mix in Cheltenham but recommends that the focus should be on moving people around and reducing the impacts of doing so. Investment to increase vehicle capacity should be limited to accessing development and strategically important pinch points.
Outcomes and targets
The strategy proposes six desired outcomes and four targets. Projects coming forward should be tested against both outcomes and targets. The purpose of this is to ensure that the wide range of issues that transport impacts are addressed, not just those that can be measured. This includes climate change. The targets include a mode share target and two 'Vision Zero' targets. These Vision Zero targets reflect the desire to set high long-term aspirations for key areas of concern and then pursuing year on year progress towards these targets. The proposed outcomes and targets are listed below.
- The design of streets and transport infrastructure enhances the character and distinctiveness of Cheltenham
- The way people move around Cheltenham enhances and does not harm health and wellbeing
- Cheltenham has a strong cycling and walking culture and people of all ages and abilities enjoy moving slowly, walking and cycling for all types of journeys
- Public transport is high quality and convenient and people of all ages and abilities can use it and choose to use it
- The environmental impact of transport in Cheltenham is continually reduced
- New development is fully integrated into the town and growth in travel demand is accommodated without increases in congestion
- Mode share
- To double cycle trips
- To increase bus trips by 30 per cent
- To retain levels of walking
- Air quality - Vision Zero - a long term aspiration that there are no air pollutants present in Cheltenham and that there is year on year progress towards this.
- Safety - Vision Zero - a long term aspiration that nobody is killed or seriously injured on the boroughs roads and that there is year on year progress towards this.
- Congestion - Reduce total delays due to congestion year on year
Connecting Cheltenham proposes six cross-cutting programmes to deliver the aspirations set out above.
These programmes are listed below and the identified projects and programmes within them are briefly described. Where it is possible at this stage to identify a likely broad cost range this is also included.
This programme will aim to deliver enhanced strategic connections to other urban areas as well as within the Central Severn Vale the proposed key elements are listed below.
- Strategic Bishop's Cleeve / Chelt / Gloucester Cycleway - this is a proposed scheme to provide a high quality cycle link from Bishop's Cleeve through Cheltenham to Gloucester - £5 to £20 million
- Junction 10 - this scheme is being developed and will provide an all movements junction and improved access to north and west Cheltenham
- Rail Service Enhancements - the opportunity to improve rail services to Cheltenham needs to be explored in parallel to the development of a transformational masterplan for the station; building on the current phase 1 project
- Oxford Cambridge Corridor - the opportunities for, and economic impact of, improved connections from the Central Severn Vale to Oxford and beyond should be explored
- Central Severn Vale - Strategic Bus Routes - There is a need to improve public transport take up across the wider Central Severn Vale both to accommodate and provide access to areas of growth and also encourage mode shift more widely. A plan to deliver this strategic public transport core should be developed in parallel to the next stage of the development of the Joint Core Strategy.
The design and management of Cheltenham's streets will have a critical impact on the delivery of the proposed outcomes and targets which Connecting Cheltenham seeks to deliver. Ensuring good street design is challenging because of the wide ranging and often conflicting demands on streets.
Connecting Cheltenham proposes that Cheltenham's streets should be liveable and defines what this means as follows:
- Walking is enjoyable and feels safe for all ages and abilities
- Cycling is enjoyable and feels safe for all ages and abilities
- Crossing is safe and convenient for all
- Interesting and, in places, delightful
- It's not too loud to talk
- Green and well landscaped
- There are places to stop, rest and socialise
- Vehicles are accommodated safely and used efficiently
- The air is clean
To deliver Liveable Streets a number of key programmes are proposed:
- Speed limit strategy - A speed limit strategy is proposed that reduces most residential, town and local centre streets to 20mph. Strategic routes within the urban area would be 30mph with higher speed limits only on the approaches to the town. Less than £5 million
- Local cycle improvements - In addition to providing a high quality cycle network (Cycle Cheltways - see below) at the top of the cycle network hierarchy, cyclists need to be enabled to travel from door to door on all streets. This means that there will also be short links, local connections and specific barriers that will need to be addressed by cycle specific infrastructure. This is in addition to the delivery of the broader liveable streets approach and in particular the speed limit strategy. Less than £5 million
- Public realm improvements - providing high quality public realm in key locations such as the town centre and local centres will be key to encouraging their long term commercial viability and walking and cycling to access them
- Community Led Projects - the community have a key role to play activating and humanising local streets through the delivery of events and projects such as play streets and parklets. A mechanism for establishing a pot of money and bidding process for communities to bid for funding should be established. Less than £200k
- Seating and Cycle Parking Programme - an ongoing programme of providing seating in key destinations and along key walking routes and cycle parking at key destinations such as centres and schools should be established. Less than £200k
- Main Streets - The busiest streets can form barriers to people walking and cycling. A programme of providing improved crossing facilities, including side road crossovers and gateways is proposed. This is anticipated to be predominantly focussed on those roads which will have speed limits of 30mph. Localised enhancements to vehicular capacity maybe required to accommodate new developments and at strategic pinch points. Less than £5 million - side road treatments only
To deliver a step change in the number of people that are cycling and deliver the outcomes and targets identified cycling needs to appeal to people of all ages and abilities and also be enjoyable.
The approach to increasing cycling identifies the need for people to be able to cycle from door to door. Three elements of the cycling network are identified (see below) and behaviour change programmes are also proposed.
- Cycle Cheltways - This would be the primary high quality branded cycle network connecting key assets including interchanges
- A programme of Local Cycle specific improvements are also proposed to address local barriers and these will form part of the secondary cycle network. These will be delivered as part of the wider Liveable Streets programmes
- The Liveable Streets programme more widely will support walking and cycling from door to door.
Cheltways programme £5 million to £20 million
Interchange and public transport
Enabling and encouraging interchange between all modes is critical and a key part of the Connecting Cheltenham strategy addresses interchange. There are a number of different types of Interchange proposed which are briefly identified below:
- Park and Interchange - these will build on the successful approach to providing Park and Ride but would expand that offer to explicitly include interchange between all modes
- Town Centre Access and Interchange - The town centre bus interchange is proposed to be consolidated and access routes for buses simplified. This will improve Interchange and sense of arrival and will allow the Promenade to be enhanced. - £5 million to £20 million
- Station Interchange - It is proposed that the station sense of arrival and quality of Interchange needs to be transformed building on the current stage 1 project and also exploring the opportunity for platform expansion to accommodate service enhancements where these would have an economic benefit
- District Centres and Microhubs - Local opportunities for interchange are also important and opportunities for providing small transport and services 'hubs' in existing and new local centres should be explored
- Partnership working - transport operators will be key to delivering enhanced services and facilities. In relation to buses the opportunities for an advanced partnership should be explored to support this
Behaviour change programmes, particularly associated with the delivery of new transport infrastructure are an effective way of encouraging people to use more active and sustainable modes of transport. A range of approaches are recommended including:
- Awareness raising
- Travel Planning - schools, new developments, existing housing and employment
- Travel Information and Journey Planning
Technology and information
The application of technology to transport problems is evolving rapidly. Developments include connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) and the collection of vast and rich data sets about transport behaviour. It is challenging to know how to respond to this but the following key actions are proposed.
- Ensuring that publicly generated transport data can be made available on a common platform
- Enabling the expansion of electrical charging infrastructure
- Working to enable multi operator ticketing
- Developing a clear policy approach to addressing the risk that CAVs and other technologies could lead to increased vehicle numbers through promoting sharing trips
Roles and responsibilities
A coherent and integrated transport strategy is important both to influence partners and bid for funding. Furthermore, delivery of Connecting Cheltenham will only be possible through partnership working but it is also important to identify key roles and responsibilities.
Key delivery partners are:
- Gloucestershire County Council
- Cheltenham Borough Council
- Public transport operators
- Community organisations
- Highways England
You'll find more detailed information about the roles and responsibilities of our partners on the delivery page.