Two key changes to the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames Council (LBRUT) planning policy come into effect this week, both are intended to improve air quality in the borough. The first is how developers build in the borough and the second is on the role new development plays in travel and parking.

The Council’s Air Quality Action Plan 2019/20 – 2024/25 was agreed earlier this year in March. One of the actions was to produce this guidance, to ensure developers focus on air quality throughout the build and for the life of the development.

Cllr Julia Neden-Watts, Chair of the Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sport Committee, said:

“Clean air is vital to our health. Air pollution has been linked to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes and possibly dementia.

“We have all seen over the past few months how much our air quality has improved – with fewer people driving and more people walking or cycling. We need to build on this.

“In the consultation on this SPD, one thing was clear – residents support the Council’s ambition to be as robust as possible when reviewing air quality implications for planning applications.

“Richmond’s growing air quality problem mostly relates to emissions from traffic. However, other sources also play a role, such as domestic and commercial heating. With an ever-increasing population, managing the air quality impacts of new development is crucial.

“Whilst planning policy cannot solve air quality issues, it has an important role to play. We need to make sure that future developments reduce or mitigate any potentially harmful impacts on the locality, whether from buildings or transport wherever legally possible.”

A guidance document has been approved outlining the role new development should play with active travel, public transport, roads and parking in Richmond upon Thames.

following a public consultation, a Transport Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) has now been finalised to help people when they are submitting planning applications. The SPD supports the Council’s adopted planning and transport policies by detailing the expectations for planning applications and signposting to existing plans and further information that may assist in the development of applications.

The SPD includes information on travel plans, deliveries and servicing, sustainable development and active travel, cycling, car clubs, electric vehicle charging, car parking, dropped kerbs and vehicle crossovers. By promoting best practice in transport provision and highway design we aim to maintain or improve the borough’s already high-quality environment.

The Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sport Committee approved the SPD last week, taking into account the current coronavirus pandemic, and the increased number of people using active travel modes of transport, for example, cycling, walking etc. to travel around the borough.

Whilst current Government guidance advises people not to travel unless it is essential, particularly on public transport, it is important that the Council capitalise on the current behaviour change of residents, and understand that the long term environmental impacts caused by Climate Change and carbon emissions will require even more people to change the way they move around the local area.

Creating space in the borough that encourages walking and cycling, both in the short and long term, is a high priority for the Council as part of its sustainability ambitions. This will also make it easier for people to observe social distancing measures and avoid the increased risk of public transport, where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Cllr Julia Neden-Watts, Chair of the Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sport Committee, said:

“The Council has been working hard to ensure walking, cycling and public transport are the natural choices for trips to and from new development, reflecting our transport strategies and our response to the climate emergency. We have seen many more people using sustainable forms of transport recently and we need to harness the shared desire for sustainability in a well-planned future of which this SPD forms part.”

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