We delivered a Transport & Carbon Baseline Report for the town centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells alongside LDA Design and Knight Frank, on behalf of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. Our Transport & Carbon Baseline was commissioned to support the development of a Town Centre Plan for Royal Tunbridge Wells, a document which will act as a Local Plan specific to that area, in order to ensure continued economic prosperity alongside a more sustainable approach to its energy and transport needs. We completed a comprehensive review of the current transport and energy situation within Royal Tunbridge Wells town centre and identified a number of opportunities for change and improvement in the future.
The Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Centre Plan will be a Supplementary Planning Document attached to the emerging Tunbridge Wells Local Plan, which was submitted for examination in November 2021. The purpose of our Evidence Base Report was to bring together a suite of different data sources covering transport, movement and decarbonisation in order to help develop a vision for Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Centre, which will then feed into the Town Centre Plan. The Report summarised current travel behaviour within the town centre area as well as the wider Tunbridge Wells urban area, the carbon emissions baseline of the town centre area, and provided an overall analysis of the opportunities and challenges facing Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, as a result of the findings.
City Science Response
Site Visit: Understanding the importance of local nuance and having a clear understanding of the study area, our local team visited Royal Tunbridge Wells to gather further information about the layout of the town centre area and gained first hand experience of some of the key issues from a transport perspective, such as permeability and safety for pedestrians and cyclists, access for public transport and wayfinding and potential urban realm improvements.
Policy & Best Practice Review: Our Evidence Base included an extensive review of local, regional and national policy to ensure the vision development and any future options generation exercises fit into the wider policy landscape. We also delved into best practice examples, including the RTPI’s Net Zero Transport, and the DfT’s Inclusive Mobility guidance. We delivered a comprehensive summary of the policy implications of the review for the future Town Centre Study.
Transport & Carbon Analysis: Alongside the policy and literature review, we also complied an updated transport and carbon evidence base using our in-house mapping tool, Cadence. Cadence allowed us to quickly assess the accessibility of the town centre via a number of different modes, including e-bikes as shown in the image below. This helps to identify gaps in infrastructure as well as opportunities for future development of these transport networks. We supported our own analysis with other tools such as the Propensity to Cycle tool, and Strava Metro data which is a valuable tool available to local authorities.
Our carbon baseline analysis provided a breakdown of domestic emissions by category, including gas, electricity and other heat consumption. We also examined transport carbon emissions by mode, and over time to understand the progress that has been made towards decarbonisation of the transport system in Tunbridge Wells Town Centre.
Stakeholder Engagement: We coordinated two stakeholder engagement sessions alongside LDA Design. The first was a workshop session discussing the transport barriers and opportunities around the town centre as identified by key stakeholders, combined with a walk around the town centre to give people a chance to demonstrate their concerns in real life. The second was an online session with the Tunbridge Wells Town Centre Working Group, which includes local officers, councillors, business owners and students, to share our findings and discuss any likely implications for the town centre area.
The outcome of this project was a comprehensive Baseline Evidence Report which was delivered on time and integrated with the work done by LDA Design and Knight Frank. The partnership with LDA Design ensured a consistent approach across the masterplanning, transport and decarbonisation themes of the work, and the Report will form the backbone of future work on the Local Plan and Town Centre Plan for Tunbridge Wells.