Transport conference sets agenda

The RTPI and TRICS have joined forces for an event that will get transport planning professionals up to speed on important issues, writes Colin Black.

Do you know whether your local development framework (LDF) or regional spatial strategy (RSS) is deliverable in transport terms? Is it sound? Does it show how the transport demand management strategy will work, or is it based on unrealistic assumptions? Transport has often been the province of civil engineers concerned with turning radii and signal controls. But the nature of transport planning has changed dramatically over the last decade.

To help planning professionals understand the implications of the latest transport requirements, the RTPI has teamed up with TRICS, the organisation that provides the trip rate and mode share database, to offer a transport planning conference. The event on 20-21 November in London will allow you to get up to speed on transport issues that affect planning decisions.

The conference starts with views on how recent policy developments, including the planning and local government white papers, are knitting together in practice. Transport secretary Ruth Kelly will set out the government's approach and the opposition parties will share their ideas for modifying the way we work, drawing on policy reviews that were carried out in the run-up to the election that never was.

The event will tackle the thorny issue of soundness in relation to LDFs and RSSs. The Planning Inspectorate's deputy chief executive and a former chief planning inspector will outline their views. Meanwhile, professionals from the Confederation of British Industry, Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London will participate in a debate led by the Campaign for Better Transport on why the economic appraisal of transport strategies usually favours highway schemes, in spite of government policies that prioritise an approach based on smarter choices.

The event incorporates helpful workshops, which are designed to provide practical advice that can be deployed in everyday scenarios. There will be a session on forthcoming DfT guidance that sets out how travel plans should be secured through the planning process. Another talk will explain how to avoid over-specification and select appropriate transport modelling techniques. There will also be a session explaining how to calculate carbon footprints for development plans according to internationally recognised standards. This will enable professionals to test the validity of the environment benefits that are claimed.

More detailed masterclasses will explain how the latest guidance on transport assessment marks the death of the traffic impact assessment. The session will detail what is expected from planners, development control officers and applicants. It will emphasise the importance of the relationship with travel plans. Another masterclass will explore whether the much-hyped manual for streets lives up to expectations.

The conference and dinner provides a networking opportunity for planning and transport professionals. It promises to attract up to 400 people. With such high demand and limited space, places are going fast.

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