Report of the Director of the Department of the Built Environment.
The Committee considered a report of the Director of the Built Environment seeking approval of the City of London Transport Strategy for onward submission to the Court of Common Council.
The Group Manager, Strategic Transportation, reminded the Committee that they had approved the draft strategy for consultation in October 2018. The consultation ran from November 2018 to January 2019 and attracted over 3,000 responses and 7,000 comments – the vast majority of which were supportive of the strategy and, as such, only minor amendments (which were tracked in the document before Members for ease of reference) had been made as a result.
The Group Manager, Strategic Transportation, went on to state that proposals around the delivery of the strategy were clear and that the intention had been to publish a three year delivery plan (to be updated on an annual) basis alongside the document however, this would now need to await the Corporation-wide fundamental review. Nevertheless, it was anticipated that a number of projects outlined within the strategy could commence in the near future.
He concluded by emphasising that this was not intended to be a static document with the proposal being to update the Strategy every 5 years and bring regular update reports to the Planning and Transportation Committee to map progress against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and the like.
The Chairman highlighted that there had been much opportunity for Members to discuss the contents of the Strategy in advance of this meeting with various Briefings offered. He added that the Local Plans Sub-Committee had also debated the document at length.
A Member commented that it was difficult to overstate the significance of this document to the City as a whole. He went on to state that, whilst, he felt that this was a very good starting point, much work would be needed to deliver on the Strategy over the next few years. He also expressed concern at the impact on projects such as this from the large Capital projects currently being pursued across the City Corporation and encouraged all Members to emphasise the importance of this work to the future of the City.
The Member added that it was important to underline that this was a living document that must change and evolve as progress was made. He expressed the view that a 5 yearly review was too infrequent and questioned whether it would be possible to provide Members with a rolling programme instead.
Another Member stated that a summary of key projects would be useful and suggested that it would be helpful for the Committee to view such a document quarterly in order to maintain momentum.
The Deputy Chairman agreed that this was one of the most important documents that this Committee would have to consider. He commented that, to date, the City Corporation had adopted a piecemeal approach to transportation and the challenges faced here and this now, helpfully, brought things together. He also emphasised the need to drive this Strategy forward and thanked Officers for the production of an excellent document which had been extremely well received by TfL and other London Boroughs to date.
A Member stated that, whilst he was supportive of the Strategy, he was concerned to see a lack of detail in terms of financial implications.
A Member questioned the need to await the outcome of the corporate, fundamental review before giving Members sight of the delivery plan that sits alongside the strategy. He suggested that this Committee be provided with a draft of the delivery plan so that a view could be taken in terms of priorities going forward. The Committee agreed with this point and suggested that Members should look to have proposals around the delivery of the strategy ready to put forward once the wider review had concluded.
A Member referred to recent news around Crossrail delays and highlighted that whatever the City Corporation decided would have limited impact until this was delivered. The Group Manager, Strategic Transportation, clarified that discussions around understanding the true impact of delays to Crossrail were continuing.
A Member expressed support for the document but made the point that the Strategy would also need to take into account those developments recently approved but not yet constructed as well as technology and how this might be used to help achieve the proposals within the strategy. The Group Manager, Strategic Transportation, confirmed that a lot of work had been undertaken in terms of engaging with technical providers and that an advisory board had also been established.
A Member made the point that there were some elements that could be delivered immediately without enormous costs such as proposals around 15mph speed limits and allowing people more time to cross at pedestrian crossing which had attracted supportive comments from respondents to the consultation as well as TfL. The Member commented that it was important to move forward and capitalise on this support.
A Member made specific reference to Proposal 17: Keep pavements free of obstructions. She commented that there was a duty under public realm here and requested that the wording therefore be amended to read:
“We will ensure that pavements are free of obstructions by:
• Not permitting a-boards on the public highway”
This would reflect what had been agreed by the Streets and Walkways Sub-Committee. The Group Manager, Strategic Transportation, recognised that a wider review was underway regarding A-boards and undertook to amend Proposal 17 in the manner proposed.
The Member went on to congratulate Officers on the huge amount of work that had gone in to producing the Strategy. She also thanked those who had responded to and engaged with the consultation around the document.
Another Member agreed with the point made previously around a lack of financial implications within the report. He suggested that this point may be questioned by the Court of Common Council and questioned the timing of submitting the Strategy to the Cpurt on this basis.
Other Members were satisfied that the strategy described what it was hoped would be achieved and that detailed costs would be difficult to provide at this stage. They disagreed with this being an obstacle to submitting the Strategy to the Court for approval.
In response to the questions and comments put by Members, the Group Manager, Strategic Transportation, highlighted that KPIs and targets were set out within the document and that these would be brought back to this Committee on a regular basis. He clarified that much work had already been undertaken on a three year delivery plan to sit alongside the Strategy and was happy to share a draft of this with the Committee in the future, as opposed to awaiting the outcome of the fundamental review.
In terms of indicative costs, the Group Manager, Strategic Transportation, clarified that these would be largely funded through development contributions, as is tradition. Funding would also be drawn from off-street parking reserves, TfL funding and other ring-fenced funding.
The Group Manager, Strategic Transportation, reported that he was content to provide quarterly updates to the Committee with a fuller update provided on an annual basis. He went on to assure Members that this would be treated as a live document with timelines and projects adjusted as necessary.
The Chairman emphasised the need to keep up momentum on the Strategy corporately. He underlined that the document contained a number of aspirations and felt that, as such, it was correct that not all of these were costed at this stage. He went on to underlined the need for immediacy and, in some cases, urgency on a number of ‘quick wins’ outlined within the document. For these reasons, he outlined the need to submit the final strategy to the Court of Common Council in May and underlined that both he and the Chairman would be pushing the matter forward as much as possible. He did not envisage great resistance from amongst the Court on this matter but urged Members of this Committee to actively support the adoption of this ground-breaking piece of work. He added that, in fact, a number of respondents to the consultation had voiced the opinion that the Strategy was perhaps not radical enough. It was felt that where the City Corporation led on this matter and pushed boundaries, others would follow.
Members proposed that the Strategy be reviewed in its entirety every 3 years as opposed to every 5. The Group Manager, Strategic Transportation, indicated that he was content with this proposal, at least in the first instance. He clarified that any such review would be based on internal monitoring as well as some public engagement and discussion with City businesses.
RESOLVED – That the Transport Strategy be approved for onward submission to the Court of Common Council and that the document, if formally approved, be reported on quarterly to the Planning and Transportation Committee with a full, formal review of the document to take place every three years.