Traffic congestion is a major problem in the town and this plan seeks to encourage the use of other forms of transportation where they are viable. This is unlikely to reduce the number of cars per household so as the number of homes rises so will the number of cars. Air quality is a public health issue for which Wiltshire Council and the Government have a responsibility. Whilst traffic congestion does not have legal standards against which it can be assessed this is not the case for air quality.
The European standards are measurable with direct statistical links to public health and ultimately deaths. This suggests that there should be no large scale housing development to meet the 778 requirement until satisfactory air quality management actions are in place, and the frequency of traffic gridlock has been addressed. Wiltshire Council has invested in the development of a Devizes Traffic Model that can forecast both congestion and air quality levels. In order to achieve improvements all development applications must be subject to congestion and pollution assessments using this model.
Proposed development sites should be approved only when it can be demonstrated that their effect on the town and its environment does not threaten the health of the community or create increases in traffic congestion. This Community Area Plan encourages cycling as an alternative to motoring. All planning applications for new dwellings should have storage provisions for cycles and show how they connect to the planned cycle network. Wiltshire’s Public Protection Department is ultimately responsible for ensuring that planning decisions do not damage the community’s health and well-being. Operation of the Traffic Model and interpretation of its outputs is the responsibility of Wiltshire’s Highways and Transport Department. The Coalition Government has a responsibility to ensure that the Planning Inspectorate do not take decisions which exacerbate air quality and consequently public health.
This artcle is an extract from the Devizes Community Area Plan