The Long and Short of LCWIPs (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans)

The Long and Short of LCWIPs (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans)
Streets are for all. It is possible to share. Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

This article comes from CA-WN's transport correspondent Peter Doveston, very ably assisted by Dave Anderson. We are grateful to both of them for this, and for representing CA-WN at the recent stakeholder workshop on the Northampton LCWIP.

In 2017 the Government published its first cycling and walking investment strategy, which sets out the ambition to make cycling and walking the traveller’s natural choice for short journeys or even as part of a longer trip.

In 2020, Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans (LWCIPs) were introduced as an update to the ambitions of the 2017 strategy. An LCWIP provides a long-term approach to developing local cycling and walking networks, usually over a 10-year period. They are used to assist local authorities to:

• Identify and prioritise cycling and walking infrastructure improvements for future investment in the short, medium and long term;
• Ensure that consideration is given to cycling and walking within both local planning, transport policies and strategies; and
Make the case for future funding for walking and cycling infrastructure.

All good so far. It is important to remember that an LCWIP is a high-level strategy which sets out governing principles for future work. It is not a plan of implementation for specific projects. The document is commissioned by the local authority, written by a consulting company, and paid for by the government.

Without an adopted LCWIP a local authority cannot access certain pots of funding for future projects from central government. It is vitally important that West Northamptonshire has adopted LCWIPs as the funding pot is steadily being reduced. In March 2023, the government cut the available Active Travel funding by two thirds. If, like us, you’re concerned about this then please contact your MP and raise this concern. 

Keep in mind that the LCWIP is a local strategy document and each project the authority wishes to implement will need to be defined along with a full justification probably requiring the consultants to help do this. The road is long but it is one we must all engage with despite memory of previous set-backs. 

This is, after all, not the first time members of CA-WN have been involved in supporting LCWIP and a great deal of input was given to a previous consultation that Northants County Council failed to take forward. However, if we fail to engage with the latest one, we forgo the right to complain should it not include our interests.

LCWIPs are much further along in Daventry, Towcester and Brackley, now is the turn of Northampton with a first stakeholder session having been held at Delapre Abbey on 13th February 2024. Attendees were primarily councillors (parish and unitary), officials (council departments and Highways Agency) followed by interest groups: ramblers, horse riders, Living Streets and CA-WN.

The introductory session was led by an overview of the strategy development process from PJA, the consulting company commissioned to create the LCWIP for Northampton. Questions and comments were raised by those present and feedback was noted for follow up.

What is CA-WN's view?

With the current state of our decaying walking and cycling infrastructure (as well as the roads!) in mind, we are sceptical of our local authority’s appetite to embrace this process and then to get on with the various resulting projects. It is crucial that West Northants leaders get involved to lead the LCWIP, its adoption, and delivery of projects. We urge them once and for all do the right thing and make a difference to improve people’s mental and physical health, improve our local micro economy and improve air quality.

We urge them to focus and avoid getting embroiled in the political debating chamber of cars vs cycling. This is not a them and us. It is all of us.

The current infrastructure is decaying and the LCWIP needs to highlight this.

Former LCWIP network plan map and information - from 13 February 2024 presentation

What can CA-WN readers do?

We need to raise awareness across West Northants that the Northampton LCWIP is taking place. The published timeline is as follows:

From 13 February 2024 presentation

CA-WN are actively engaged in the LCWIP for Northampton with ideas both new and previous. We are keen to spread the word about the LCWIP as it seems they go under the radar; we would also like to help other interested groups or individuals contribute. The next session date is yet to be confirmed but we will be sure to keep you updated here on The CA-WN Exchange. If you are interested, please email your details (or the contact of your group) or leave a comment below. We will let you know when the next meeting is scheduled and what to expect.

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