Drivers for change

The way people move around and how well connected a place is from a physical movement perspective, affects a wide range of issues including health, wellbeing and economic growth. The choices people make about movement also affects how easy it is to accommodate and encourage growth and transport emissions are a key contributor to climate change.

This page identifies some ‘drivers for change’ or reasons why a shift towards more active and sustainable modes of transport is important across a wide range of agendas.

The ‘drivers for change’ identified in Cheltenham are listed below and the following sections illustrate why these ‘drivers’ are so important:

  • The need to accommodate the increase in travel demand as a result of growth and integrate new areas and communities effectively into the town
  • The need to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for all (includes highway safety)
  • The need to ensure equitable access to transport, employment, education and services through an effective and inclusive transport system
  • The need to reduce the local environmental impacts of transport such as air quality, noise and ecological impacts
  • Protect and enhance the quality and distinctiveness of Cheltenham and its neighbourhoods
  • The need to reduce the wider environmental impacts of transport such as the emissions of the gases that contribute to climate change


Significant growth is planned in the Central Severn Vale and within Cheltenham. To dealing with the associated increase in travel demand on an already congested and constrained highway network, highway space will need to be used more efficiently. A higher proportion of people cycling and using shared transport (bus based in the short to medium term) will help achieve this.

View the Joint Core Strategy area map.


Addressing congestion through prioritising and promoting more efficient modes of transport will help accommodate growth in travel demand without harming liveability or townscape.

Cheltenham’s highway network experiences significant congestion on its key routes during peak periods in particular. Although there are some locations where capacity could be increased, this is not generally the case without significant impact on living conditions or townscape in particular.

Childhood obesity

Map showing levels of childhood obesity in areas of Cheltenham

Childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is a national concern. Children’s diets and lower levels of exercise contributing to what has been described as an epidemic of obesity. The diagram above shows how Cheltenham’s childhood obesity compares with the national average. The warm colours show areas where childhood obesity is higher than the national average. These are concentrated in the areas of higher deprivation but any levels of childhood obesity is a cause for concern.

Increasing opportunities for outdoor play, walking and cycling is important for tackling childhood obesity.

Healthy life expectancy

Map showing healthy life expectancy in areas of Cheltenham

Healthy life expectancy

Healthy life expectancy is a good measure of the relative health of different places. Female healthy life expectancy is shown here for Cheltenham. The warmer colours on the map indicate where healthy life expectancy is below the national average. The areas where healthy life expectancy is lower for women also have higher levels of childhood obesity and lower than average healthy life expectancy for men.

A move towards enabling increased use of active modes of transport will help support improving health outcomes for these communities as well as more widely.

Cycle/vehicle accidents

In common with many places, Cheltenham has injury accidents spread across its network as well as a number of junctions where there are a concentration of accidents.

Highway safety - pedestrians

In common with many places, Cheltenham has injury accidents spread across its highway network but accidents between vehicles and pedestrians are more concentrated in the town centre.

There have also been incidents of verbal and physical assault on pedestrians. The need to improve highway safety also needs to include consideration of this type of incident.

Car ownership

Map showing levels of car ownership in areas of Cheltenham

Car ownership

The map shows how car ownership varies across Cheltenham. The warm colours show where car ownership is lower than the national average. The cold colours show where car ownership is higher. This shows that for large areas of Cheltenham car ownership is around or below national average. Car ownership rises towards the outer edges of Cheltenham. Although it could be anticipated car ownership would be lower in areas of higher deprivation lower levels of car ownership are more widespread than that in Cheltenham. This perhaps reflects the accessible nature of the town.

This map also illustrates that there are many households with low car ownership and therefore shows how important other modes of transport are for many people already.

Air quality

The whole of Cheltenham was designated as a an Air Quality Management Area in 2009 as a consequence of a number of locations exceeding limits for Nitrogen Dioxide. The purpose of an air quality management area is to identify those locations where action is necessary to improve air quality. In Cheltenham although the locations of lower air quality are localised there is a recognition that the effect of door to door transport choices is a key driver of reduced local air quality.

Townscape quality

Cheltenham’s Town Centre and immediate surroundings is known for its high quality townscape. This includes a number of very high quality streets and town centre public spaces and urban parks.

Accommodating the increase in travel demand   associated with growth whilst also protecting and enhancing Cheltenhams character and townscape requires a holistic design led approach to street design and also to the design of new transport infrastructure.

Climate change

On 18 February, Cheltenham Borough Council unanimously supported a motion with the following resolutions:

  • Declare a climate emergency
  • Pledge to make Cheltenham carbon neutral by 2030, taking into account both production and consumption emissions
  • Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make the 2030 target possible
  • Work with other governments (both within the UK and internationally) to determine and implement best practice methods to limit Global Warming to less than 1.5 degrees celsius
  • Continue to work with partners across the town, county andregion to deliver this new goal through all relevant strategies and plans
  • Report to full council within six months with the actions the council will take to address this emergency

Transport emissions make up 34 per cent of UK carbon dioxide emissions and carbon dioxide makes up 81 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions. Addressing the carbon dioxide emissions from transport is therefore a crucial part of tackling climate change.