Location and geography
Cheltenham is situated in the Central Severn Vale in Gloucestershire. It is well connected with direct access to the M5 motorway to the west of the town and also being on the main railway line between Bristol and Birmingham.
Cheltenham is well known for its Spa heritage and its beautiful built and natural environment. The quality of the town is reflected in the extent of conservation areas that it contains. It is a very desirable place to live, work and visit.
The town sits at the base of Cotswold scarp which rises above it to the east and south east. This scarp and the Cotswolds area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) limits the growth of the town to the east and south east.
Several watercourses run through Cheltenham, falling in a broadly south east to north west direction including the Hatherly Brook and the River Chelt.
In terms of land use, Cheltenham has three main areas of employment the Town Centre, Kingsditch retail and employment area and GCHQ. The Cyber Park proposals will also build further employment along the western edge of the town expanding the employment offer in the broad area of GCHQ.
Cheltenham’s town centre is located broadly centrally and is connected into the surrounding neighbourhoods by a well connected and relatively level street network. Local and neighbourhood centres and schools are also well distributed throughout the town.
The combination of an attractive, compact, well structured town with level topography and a well connected street network are all key urban attributes which encourage and enable walking and cycling for a wide range of trip purposes.
The maps on this page show the different charactaristics of Cheltenham. Tap/click images to view full size.
Cheltenham’s ambition and vision is set out in our Place Vision. The Place Vision has three key areas: business, culture and community, and states that the ambition is for Cheltenham to be a place where:
- All our people and the communities they live in thrive
- Culture and creativity thrives, celebrated and enjoyed throughout the year
- Businesses and their workforces thrive
- Everyone thrives
To deliver The Place Vision, there are a number of key challenges which the town faces and to which it must respond and which are summarised in the following paragraphs.
Economic and jobs growth is below the national average and there are areas of high worklessness within some areas. Recruitment to entry level and mid level management can also be challenging. The retail environment is also challenging at a national level.
Cheltenham has an international reputation as a thriving centre for Culture, Heritage and Sporting events, but it is still in competition with many other places for visitors. It also has to address funding challenges for Arts and Cultural organisations.
Cheltenham’s communities are diverse. Cheltenham has some of the most wealthy areas of the UK but it also has communities who are within the 10% most deprived.
Cheltenham’s population is ageing and forecasts indicate that by 2029 there will be fewer under 18s than over 65s if current trends continue.
The Place Vision goes onto to identify Ambitions, Aspirations and Actions that local partners will work together to deliver to address these challenges. There are several Actions that relate directly to transport and this transport strategy.
- Deliver a Transport Plan focussed on increasing connectivity across the town and work with partners to bring about fast and secure digital infrastructure.
- Facilitate the delivery of the Cyber Park that will create 45ha of new employment space along with employment and training initiatives to benefit local residents.
- Develop a vision for the Town Centre which delivers investment into the delivery of world class public spaces that link people businesses and entertainment.
- Commitment to create socially sustainable communities in both new residential developments and in our existing communities and increase opportunities for community based health and wellbeing projects
This Place Vision is supported by four values which will guide how the town responds to the long term challenges:
- Being environmentally friendly
- Being pioneering
- Being nurturing
- Connecting and reconnecting
The Place Vision provides a key framework for ‘Connecting Cheltenham’ both in terms of its broad and inclusive approach but also in terms of the support for the delivery of the Cyber Park and investment in the town centre.
Cheltenham has adopted a Joint Core Strategy (JCS 2017) with Gloucester City Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council. This sets out a target of 11,000 new homes and 55ha of new employment land for Cheltenham by 2031.
In Cheltenham strategic growth is planned in North West and West Cheltenham through the development of new urban extensions. Strategic urban extensions are also proposed in Gloucester and Tewkesbury. The plan illustrates the proposed areas of growth relevant to this strategy.
The JCS is supported by an infrastructure delivery plan which identifies the following specific transport projects within/near to Cheltenham:
- M5 junction 11
- A40 Benhall Roundabout
- Cheltenham Spa station remodelling to provide additional track and platform capacity and passenger facilities including interchange, cycle parking, car parking and station amenities.
- Elmbridge Transport scheme - new park and ride facility and associated capacity and safety improvements
- A40 bus lane Benhall
- Desire to implement smart card ticketing and real time passenger information along strategic public transport routes
A review of the JCS is now planned and an issues and opportunities consultation was undertaken between November 2018 and January 2019. This indicates that further urban expansion to the west of Cheltenham may be considered.
Current travel behaviour
Census data from 2011 provides us with a detailed snapshot of journey to work data for people both living and working in Cheltenham. The diagram opposite gives a summary of the journey to work travel behaviour. Key points that can be drawn from this data are:
- 40 per cent of travel to work trips start and end in Cheltenham
- Of these internal trips there is already a relatively high non car mode share
- There is a high internal walk to work mode share (32 per cent)
- Cycle mode share for trips within Cheltenham is healthy but much lower than the car or walking (11 per cent)
- The bus mode share is similar for trips into and out of Cheltenham as it is for trips wholly within Cheltenham and relatively low for an urban area. (Between 6 and 8 per cent)
- Rail mode share is low (3 per cent outgoing trips and 2 per cent incoming trips).
- Car mode share is high (78 per cent) for travel to work trips both to and from Cheltenham.
The census data has also been analysed to explore where people are travelling to from Cheltenham and from to Cheltenham for work. Bishop’s Cleeve which is within Tewkesbury Borough has a significant travel to work relationship with Cheltenham and is very close and so offers a significant opportunity to promote mode shift to bus, cycle and car share in particular.
Analysis was also carried out to identify areas where people are travelling short distances to work by car (2 km and 5 km). This revealed that many very short trips (less than 2 km) are being driven.
Limited data was available for travel to primary school. This revealed that mode share is highly variable. There were some high levels of people walking, relatively high levels of people using cars and generally very low cycle mode share.
From the review of travel data, we can make the following overall conclusions about the opportunities for mode shift:
- There is a significant opportunity to increase levels of cycling and bus (mass transit) use for travel to work in particular
- There is an opportunity to significantly increase travel to school on foot and by bicycle in particular
- There is an opportunity to increase the proportion of car trips that are car share. Although if the overall proportion of car trips reduced significantly it may result in an overall reduction in the number of people car sharing
- There is an opportunity to divert incoming and outgoing trips via park and ride or other ‘hub’ type interchange
- For trips to and from Gloucester and Tewkesbury there is an opportunity to improve mode share for cycling and bus and also to divert single occupier car trips to the ‘park and interchange’.
- Opportunities to increase rail mode share through improvements to service patterns should be explored, although rail mode share for journeys to work is likely to remain low overall