5 - Active travel, transport and air quality

silhouette of a figure walking on Cheltenham's promenade on a sunny winter's day

An estimated 70 per cent of car journeys within Cheltenham are under 2km. Many of these journeys could be made on foot or by bicycle. A modal shift to more active transport is needed to reduce emissions from privately owned vehicles. For those unable to make these journeys without a vehicle, public transport needs to become a more attractive option and fossil fuel consuming cars need to be phased out as soon as possible. The government has already started this journey by committing to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030. You can find out more in the Transitioning to zero emission cars and vans: 2035 delivery plan. Policies such as this will lead to reduced carbon emissions, a reduced number of petrol and diesel cars on the road, and will help to improve Cheltenham’s air quality.

Ongoing and completed

Whilst we are not the Highways Authority and therefore have limited control over this element of the pathway, CBC has a vision for how transport could work better in the borough. To deliver this vision, we must work with others who have the statutory powers and resources to help us.

In 2019, we published our Connecting Cheltenham report, to seek to influence GCC’s new Local Transport Plan, as well as articulating a clear aspiration of how Cheltenham wanted and needed to change.

Positive engagement has progressed with partners to look to develop a cycle hub in the heart of Cheltenham with secure, covered cycle parking, which is also suitable for cargo bikes. We hope this project will start taking shape in the first quarter of 2022, along with proposals for additional cycle parking provision across the town more widely.

Plans are underway to extend the Honeybourne Line beyond its current boundary at the underpass of the Queens Road Bridge, Lansdown towards the Lansdown Bridge. Developed by Great Western Railway and maintained by CBC, this key link to the existing Honeybourne Line will provide Cheltenham residents and our local communities with a much better connection between three key sustainable transport networks: the train station, the Cheltenham to Gloucester 94 bus network, and the Honeybourne cycle and pedestrian network into the heart of the town. This seemingly small link will play a big role in supporting CBC’s climate agenda, promoting modal shift and public transport, reducing pollution and car use, and encouraging walking and cycling which leads to healthier and happier communities.

CBC is required to produce an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP), relating to an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) declared around an area of High Street/Poole Way in 2020. This document is likely to be completed and submitted to DEFRA in early 2022. Our formal AQAP will be published as part of a town- wide strategy for improving air quality, backed by existing policies drawn from other documents.

To reduce the carbon footprint of our own CBC fleet, we are in the process of transitioning our heavy goods vehicles used for environmental services away from fossil fuels to Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), a fuel with much lower carbon emissions.


Priority in 2021-23

  • Work with GCC to prioritise transport investment in cycling and walking, with a priority of installing segregated cycleways, increasing space for pedestrians and introducing a 20mph speed limit in urban areas. Seek to safeguard routes for a future mass transport system to enhance and improve the sustainability of Cheltenham’s public transport offering
  • Introduce new ‘safe cycle hubs’ across the town, working with businesses to help facilitate these, as well as installing more cycle racks, wherever it is suitable and safe to do so
  • Enable a shift to electric vehicles by installing electric vehicle charging points within Council owned car parks and support GCC with the delivery of their Local Transport Plan (LTP)
  • Deliver a policy that will require all taxis to be electric, or another form of zero carbon as technology evolves, and support the provision of required infrastructure

Priority in 2024-26

  • Transition the council’s own fleet to electric vehicles. Explore interim measures such as the use of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel in place of traditional diesel in instances where electrification is not yet a viable option, particularly for the Council’s heavy goods vehicles delivering environmental services across the borough
  • Reduce the use of private vehicles used for commuting by council officers through a reinvigorated green staff travel strategy, including progressive flexible and home-working options
  • Reduce car use through measures available to the Borough such as promoting car-sharing schemes, supporting the continuation of the county e-scooter trial, introducing staff incentive schemes such as ‘Cycle to Work’ and reducing or removing direct car parking benefits
  • Work with GCC to develop and implement a “last mile” strategy that encourages greener deliveries across the area by setting up an area-wide distribution centre. This will help remove large delivery vehicles from the central road network and facilitate the introduction of efficient cargo bikes to Cheltenham, whilst creating new jobs and economic growth

Priority in 2027-28

  • Review our existing car parking strategy. We will continue to explore ways to ensure alternative travel options to car use are viable and seen to be more favourable than driving. Town centre parking charges will need to reflect this policy choice. Repurposing some car parking spaces (i.e. by creating urban gardens or for car share schemes) will be necessary to demonstrate the council’s ambition to remove priority for privately-owned vehicles and to amplify services and support for active travellers
  • Reduce the need to own and use a car by requiring that the location and design of new developments means they are demonstrably accessible by safe cycling, walking routes and good quality public transport and situated close to essential services
  • Explore the feasibility of introducing Clean Air Zones within Cheltenham town centre, similar to schemes recently introduced in other areas such as Bath and Birmingham