Recent Developments in Accessibility Planning and Analysis - ScotStat 2/05
1.1.1 Accessibility concepts describe links between transport, the economy and society so as Government seeks to integrate transport with other policy areas there has been an increasing need to measure accessibility.
1.1.2 This paper summarises some of the recent developments in measuring accessibility and the ways that new accessibility measures are being used to assist with joint delivery of transport and non-transport policies.
1.1.3 Accessibility assessments are designed to improve the evidence base for taking decisions to tackle accessibility problems. In England there are formal processes for accessibility analysis within the statutory local transport planning (LTP) process, and in Scotland, where there is currently no statutory local transport planning process the requirement for accessibility analysis is set out in Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance. Land use planning guidance also suggests that the STAG approach is adopted when assessing land use plans.
1.1.4 Within the English guidance on accessibility planning accessibility assessments are made up of three main components:
· mapping audits using data on the local transport network, and the location of services, disadvantaged areas and people groups, to identify particular accessibility problems; and
· a review of evidence held by the local transport authority and other relevant bodies (such as the PCT if considering access to health).
· Review of several national ward based indicators which will be published annually as part of neighbourhood statistics.
1.1.5 As well as providing an evidence-base for accessibility planning, this assessment can be used to help to engage local partners, by highlighting where accessibility improvements can deliver benefits for their sectors.
1.1.6 Integrated measures of accessibility have been generated within research for many years but the cross-over to practice has been limited. To help overcome this in 1999 the Scottish Executive commissioned software to automate the calculation of integrated indicators for use in specific development planning applications, combining local census data with local transport data from journey planning and transport modelling. To support the new accessibility planning process in England DfT has incorporated the functionality from the Scottish software within accessibility mapping software to produce new accessibility-planning software- Accession- to assist authorities in identifying and addressing accessibility problems through mapping audits. A range of products exist that could be utilised for accessibility mapping but DfT has invested in Accession and is providing a copy of the software to each LTP-producing local council and local highway authority in England outside London, along with key centrally-available data sets.
1.1.7 The remainder of this paper is as follows:
· Section 2 summarises the available DfT Guidance on accessibility planning;
· Section 3 summarises recent accessibility-research commissioned by the Scottish Executive;
· Section 4 considers the possible future estimation and use of accessibility indicators within the context of Neighbourhood statistics and Deprivation Indices; and
· Section 5 provides a number of useful web-links related to the topic of accessibility.
2 Summary of DfT Accessibility Planning Guidance for England
2.1 Accessibility planning - the context
2.1.1 Improving social inclusion lies at the heart of Government policies. The Government wants to improve access to opportunities, and to enable individuals and communities to realise their potential. Achieving these aims means making sure that everyone can get to work, schools, healthcare, food shops and other key services.
2.1.2 The DfT guidance sets out how the accessibility problems faced by people from disadvantaged groups and areas can be identified and addressed through local transport plans (LTPs) and local authorities' other functions, and through working with local partners. It builds on the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) report Making the Connections (http://www.socialexclusionunit.gov.uk/page.asp?id=238), which demonstrated the importance of transport and accessibility to social inclusion, and set out a cross-Government strategy for improving access to the services with the greatest impact on life opportunities - jobs, health care, learning and food shops.
2.1.3 Improving accessibility to jobs and services not only addresses social inclusion, but also helps to:
· support economic regeneration;
· facilitate the transition from welfare to work;
· reduce health inequalities; and
· improve participation and attendance in education.
2.1.4 Local transport authorities have a pivotal role to play in improving accessibility through:
· their transport strategies, policies and programmes;
· transport schemes and initiatives specifically designed to improve accessibility;
· influencing the authority's wider policy areas and the corporate centre;
· influencing the location of new facilities and retention of existing ones; and
· influencing the decisions of external bodies on location and delivery of other services and opportunities.
2.1.5 Other local bodies have an equally important role to play and can benefit significantly from improved accessibility, notably:
· Local Planning Authorities;
· Primary Care Trusts;
· Local Education Authorities;
· Learning and Skills Councils; and
· Jobcentre Plus.
2.2 Accessibility Planning in Local Transport Plans
2.2.1 Local transport authorities in England, outside London, are due to submit their provisional Local Transport Plans (LTPs), covering the period 2006/7 to 2010/11, to the Department for Transport (DfT) in July 2005, and their final LTPs in March 2006.
2.2.2 Guidance on preparing the next LTPs has been issued to Local Authorities in England. This includes a new requirement for accessibility strategies, including local targets for accessibility improvements. These strategies should be underpinned by accessibility assessments.
2.2.3 Authorities should include their framework accessibility strategies within their 2005 provisional LTPs. These should include their visions and objectives for accessibility, and explain how their accessibility objectives link with, and are integrated within, their wider vision and objectives, including other objectives within the LTP. They should also set out their proposals for further developing their accessibility strategy. Authorities should submit their completed accessibility strategies as part of their final LTPs in March 2006.
2.2.4 The quality of accessibility strategies in LTPs will be one of the factors taken into account in allocating LTP integrated transport block funding.
2.2.5 The accessibility strategy should:
· be set in the context of the wider vision and objectives for that area, as set out in the community strategy and the development plan, for example for the development of jobs and housing;
· aim to improve accessibility for all, but particularly for disadvantaged groups and areas;
· focus on accessibility to employment, learning, health care and food shops together with other services and opportunities of local importance, e.g. leisure facilities;
· be based on an assessment of the accessibility needs and problems of the area;
· set out accessibility priorities within the five year period and demonstrate how they result from the assessment;
· provide targets for improving accessibility, with clear linkages to the wider strategy, and on the ground delivery;
· include a series of more detailed local accessibility action plans, developed with partners, to tackle initial priorities identified from the assessment; and
· show how accessibility considerations are to be incorporated into wider policy and scheme development and delivery in transport, land-use planning and non-transport sectors.
2.3 Accessibility Planning - the Process
2.3.1 The DfT guidance recommends a five-stage process for accessibility planning, comprising:
· Stage 1 - Strategic (e.g. LTP wide) accessibility assessment, involving
- strategic mapping audits for the main destination types (work, health care, education and food shops / major centres);
- establishment of 'strategic partnerships' around specific themes (including partners with both policy development and delivery roles), to consider the findings of the audit and to review existing knowledge on accessibility issues; and
- prioritisation of areas, groups and issues for further action;
· Stage 2 - Local accessibility assessments, focussed on priority areas, groups and issues, to assist in the development of more detailed local action plans
· Stage 3 - Option appraisal (including the identification of resources);
· Stage 4 - Accessibility action plan development; and
· Stage 5 - Monitoring and evaluation.
2.3.2 The involvement of partners, particularly those in the land-use planning, health, education and welfare to work sectors is considered to be crucial to the accessibility planning process, including the implementation of agreed action plans.
2.4 Other DfT guidance
2.4.1 DfT has also established the 'within reach' programme to provide guidance and advice to authorities on development and delivery of their accessibility strategies and action plans.
2.4.2 Other relevant central government departments have issued guidance to their local service delivery agents about how they should be involved in the accessibility planning process. These include:
· Office of the Deputy Prime Minister;
· Department of Health;
· Department for Education and Skills;
· Department for Work and Pensions / Jobcentre Plus; and
· Department for Culture, Media and Sports.
2.4.3 The DfT guidance emphasises the benefits that improving accessibility, and the accessibility planning process, will have for all sectors, and encourages the relevant delivery agencies to participate fully in the accessibility planning process.
2.4.4 In addition to providing further advice of the 5-Stage process to Accessibility Planning described above, the DfT guidance contains further guidance on the following topics:
· Crime Reduction and Accessibility
· Education and Accessibility
· Healthcare and Accessibility
· Land Use Planning and Accessibility
· Transport and Accessibility
· Welfare to Work and Accessibility
2.4.5 These guidance documents can be found on the DfT website at:
3 Recent Accessibility-Related Research in Scotland
3.1 Scottish Household Survey Topic Report on Accessibility
3.1.1 The Scottish Executive has recently commissioned a Scottish Household Survey Topic Report on Accessibility. The aim of the research is to report on the statistics on various aspects of accessibility and the extent to which they are inter-linked, using data from the SHS and, where appropriate other sources, in order to inform discussion of and the development of Scottish Executive policy on 'accessibility' and issues related to it.
3.1.2 The research will examine:
· access to public transport;
· access to the seven types of service recorded in SHS;
· feelings of safety from crime when using buses and trains - as fear of crime may reduce the 'accessibility' of services;
· other indications/measures of accessibility which the contractor considers relevant and for which data are available.
3.1.3 The research will also look at the travel attitudes and behaviour of various sub-groups including the elderly, the disabled, those living in rural areas and those without access to a car.
3.1.4 The study is being carried out by the Transport Research Institute at Napier University and the Derek Halden Consultancy. It is due to report by the summer 2005.
3.2 Earlier Research
3.2.1 Additional research on accessibility commissioned previously by the Scottish Executive can be found on their website, as follows:
· www.scotland.gov.uk/cru/kd01/blue/ruac-00.asp - rural accessibility
· www.scotland.gov.uk/cru/kd01/blue/accessibility-00.asp - accessibility measurement techniques and their application
· www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/social/mdis-00.asp - Measuring Deprivation in Scotland: Developing a Long-term Strategy Final Report
4 Accessibility Indicators and Neighbourhood Statistics
4.1.1 Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics ( www.sns.gov.uk) currently provides approximate shortest drive times to a range of services. At present, the set of services covered is [supermarket, post office, petrol station, primary school and GP].
4.1.2 These access indicators provide the basis for one of the six 'domains' used in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). The SIMD Access domain ranks each data zone according to their accessibility to these services. For further details see Measuring Deprivation in Scotland: Developing a Long-term Strategy Final Report, ( www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/social/mdis-00.asp)
4.1.3 This Access domain could be used to target improvements and/or serve as a partial measure of changes in access to services in rural and remote disadvantaged areas through the 'Closing the Opportunity Gap' initiative.
4.1.4 There are some issues with the quality of the location data used and assumptions about congestion and network speeds. It also fails to handle remote areas which are reliant on ferries. More importantly, this measure fails to take account of the limited access to services for households or individuals without access to a car.
4.1.5 In addition, analysis of the SIMD shows that average drive times to the five services tend to decrease as deprivation increases (as measured by the other Domains). It is felt that further work is required to decide how best to include accessibility to services and rurality/remoteness within the SIMD framework.
4.1.6 It is understood that the Office of the Chief Statistician team are currently exploring possibilities for developing these measures further.
4.1.7 There is also considerable interest in adding various appropriate and useful measures of accessibility directly to the Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics.
4.2 National Accessibility Indicators in England/Wales
4.2.1 The feasibility of national indicators was explored as part of the development of the accessibility planning process in England (DHC et al 2004 - Developing and Piloting Accessibility Planning - Final Report). During the piloting project the DfT/MVA software Accession was still under development, so the Scottish Executive/DHC ACCALC software was used to calculate the prototype indicators. Accession has now been released and, together with a range of other modelling techniques across the country, is in active use by Local Transport Authorities and private consultancies for the preparation of accessibility audits for the Draft Local Transport Plans.
4.2.2 Part of the piloting process in England involved reviewing all the available data sets and identifying practical indicators based on available national data. National data assembly for these data has now largely been completed and data for use as origins and destinations have been provided by DfT on a Data CD. They are also working to provide a service to allow LTAs to download PT data for their area. Public transport data will be provided in ATCO CIF format and comes from the Traveline database. The expected date of release for this is late February.
4.2.3 Alongside this, DfT are to provide a set of indicators calculated at Output Area level for the whole of England and reported at Ward and Super Output Area level. MVA are working with DfT on this in the form of a multi-stage project. The first stage is underway which involves studying the makeup of England and working out the most efficient way in which the country can be partitioned into manageable chunks.
4.2.4 The output from this work includes threshold indicators such as:
· % of a) pupils of compulsory school age; b) pupils of compulsory school age in receipt of free school meals within 15 and 30 minutes of a primary school by public transport/walking;
· % of a) pupils of compulsory school age; b) pupils of compulsory school age in receipt of free school meals within 20 and 40 minutes of a secondary school by public transport/walking and cycling;
· % of 16-19 year olds within 30 and 60 minutes of a further education establishment by public transport/walking and cycling;
· % of a) people of working age; b) people in receipt of Jobseekers' Allowance within 20 and 40 minutes of work by public transport/walking and cycling;
· % of a) households b) households without access to a car within 30 and 60 minutes of a hospital by public transport/walking;
· % of a) households b) households without access to a car within 15 and 30 minutes of a GP by public transport/walking; and
· % of a) households; b) households without access to a car within 15 and 30 minutes of a major centre by public transport/walking and cycling.
4.2.5 Continuous indicators are also to be produced.
4.2.6 Should the work be undertaken, MVA will develop an Oracle version of Accession which will allow the processing and storage of much larger runs than possible at present. It will also involve MVA performing the runs and reports to produce the outputs required. The geographic partitioning exercise is due for completion around mid-February and the development of an Oracle version would start shortly after this.
4.2.7 MVA are also in conversation with the Welsh Assembly, who are showing a good deal of interest in Accession and have similar requirements for National Indicators.
5 Useful Links
UK Government's main Accessibility Planning web-site
Overview of Accessibility Planning (by topic area)
Main DfT Guidance documents
The within reach advisory programme
Making the Connection
Accessibility: Review of Measuring Techniques
Derek Halden Consultancy's web-site
Measuring Deprivation in Scotland: Developing a Long-term Strategy Final Report
Measurement Techniques and their Application
Rural Accessibility in Scotland
Other useful links