(Why haven’t we got one?)
Back in 2017 the government introduced the idea of a “Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans” (LCWIP) and all local highway authorities should by now have published one. In recent weeks Active Travel England has been asking councils to self-score themselves to determine how much money they might be given. One of the categories asks whether there is a plan that has been published and whether engagement is ongoing.
Unlike a standard local authority strategy or plan an LCWIP is an ongoing process where continuous engagement should feed back into regular additions to the plan. It isn’t supposed to be a secretive document that sits on a shelf. Any plan written before Covid should have already been revised.
The key outputs of LCWIPs are:
- a network plan for walking and cycling which identifies preferred routes and core zones for further development
- a prioritised programme of infrastructure improvements for future investment
- a report which sets out the underlying analysis carried out and provides a narrative which supports the identified improvements and network
Local planning authorities should consider incorporating LCWIPs into Supplementary Planning Documents where this would build upon and provide more guidance on the policies in the Local Plan.
Key things that our North Tyneside Campaign Group would want to see in any North Tyneside LCWIP would be:
- Evidence of sustained engagement with stakeholders through the process and a plan to continue this beyond into implementation
- Accurate and through analysis of existing networks and town centres which clearly states the current condition of the borough’s infrastructure
- Separate Cycling & Walking network maps of appropriate scale, we’d expect each town centre to have it’s own walking network map whilst the cycling network would be considered at a scale above this.
- Evidence that the plan is balanced from the point of view of gender and other equality issues, this can’t be something that just delivers for “men who work in offices”.
- Evidence that the plan prioritises investment where it will deliver greatest returns and benefit the largest number of people e.g. a focus on key entry points into town centres where both walking and cycling routes aren’t good enough.
So why hasn’t North Tyneside got a published plan and why hasn’t more engagement happened? The short answer is that we don’t really know. There is a lack of public information not only on the LCWIP but also on the walking and cycling plans published last year, many of which needed significant improvement.
Now that government has been absolutely crystal clear that the lack of an open published plan of very high-quality infrastructure proposals will affect future funding we’d hope this gets corrected quickly and look forward to supporting engagement.
One thing we do know is in North Tyneside’s unpublished LCWIP is a “tube map” of cycling routes which may or may not be the same as those published in the 2018 cycling strategy. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with this as a starting point it looks dated and only a small fraction of what is shown is close to town centres.
We’ve found it almost impossible to use this map in practice. Connections that you might assume would be there such as Rake Lane to Cullercoats apparently aren’t in the plan. It’s difficult to see how this might tie in with key walking gateways into Whitley Bay. We also remain concerned about the quality of planned gateways into North Shields.
The key thing about an LCWIP, when we eventually get one, is it’s used well as a reason to positively push for change. What it shouldn’t ever be is a reason not to fix problem streets which “aren’t in the LCWIP”, we and our members will continue to push for this.