Transport Planning Associates

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Transport Planning Associates's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Transport Planning Associates is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Founding Director RupertLyons
Elwick Place, Ashford for
Local highway authorities can be a thorn in the side of
transport planners, according to the founding director of
Transport Planning Associates, Rupert Lyons. His company
seeks to work with public and private sector clients to provide
optimal transport infrastructure solutions. However, they report
facing considerable obstacles from highway authorities, often
without good reason. This, they believe, is detrimental to
themselves, the public and their clients. Despite this climate, they
continue to move from strength to strength, working in the best
interests of everyone. Rupert tells
The Parliamentary Review
We’re a company of transport planners and transport infrastructure designers, and the
great majority of our time is spent working with private and public sector developers
and their project teams to secure planning permission for new development for
a wide range of land uses. We focus on optimising the mode of travel and the
movement strategies required to ensure a high standard of accessibility – as well
as the associated investment in transport infrastructure improvement required to
ensure successful, viable development. We constantly balance our professional
integrity with the commercial pressures facing our clients, but the biggest challenge
we face (perhaps surprisingly) is the lack of constructive engagement with, and the
absence of pragmatism from, representatives of local highway authorities.
Throughout the course of my career, beginning in the late 1980s, transport
planning in the United Kingdom has evolved from being an engineering science
to becoming more of a political science. Occasionally, some projects still seem
to me to be fairly judged on their merits, but many more seem to rely on their
»Founding Director:
»Established in 1997
»Based in Bristol, Cambridge,
London, Manchester and
»Services: Transport planning,
infrastructure and services
»No. of employees: 45
Transport Planning
Highlighting best practice
compatibility with an agenda. In a
sector that should be truly forward-
looking and people-focused, the
evolution of land use and transport
planning policy in our country feels
pretty uninspired and, more often
than not, reactive. Transport planning
policymakers appear to be led rather
than leading.
Challenging ourselves to
We’re a company of educated and
professionally qualified practitioners,
ably supported by a team that take
good care of our business support
functions. Early in my career in the firms
I previously worked for, it became clear
to me that often the most talented and
able practitioners became the managers,
while the day-to-day project work was
completed by more junior and less
experienced practitioners. At Transport
Planning Associates, we endeavour
to do things a little differently: we
work hard to impart knowledge and
experience and encourage our juniors
to challengethemselves.
Our competitors are the larger
(often international) multidisciplinary
practices that forever seek to
cross-sell associated development
planning services and offer a fully
comprehensive solution to prospective
clients. We also compete with the
smaller (often single-practitioner)
practices with negligible overhead
costs. We distinguish ourselves by
being experts in our field, maintaining
a niche consultancy service and
balancing the capability that we offer
with the capacity that we have.
We thrive because we continue to
invest in the education and training of
our people and in the analytical tools
of our profession, thereby ensuring we
remain at the top of our game. Long
ago, we made the mistake of seeking
to grow by acquisition, only never to
recover the initial investment made.
Since then, we have instead grown
organically, at a slow and steady
pace. This has helped us weather the
difficulties in the market demand for
our services, and it continues to serve
us well as we expand our practice into
new regions throughout the country.
We believed in, and sought, the
accreditation of our systems and
processes – however, as those external
voices began to cause unduly large
changes in our business practice, it
made us uncomfortable. In the end,
we decided to return to our previous
reliance on the entrepreneurship
and people skills of our senior
Our first major succession-of-
ownership event
That team, and its continuing
development, is our future; we are
midway through a process that will
see the controlling ownership of our
practice transfer from the founder
director to the senior leadership team.
It is a complex challenge, with some
competing agendas, but we have
taken the view that it is both sensible
and desirable to separate succession
Elwick Place, Ashford for
We’re a
company of
educated and
ably supported
by a team that
take good
care of our
of ownership and the retirement of
the founding director by as much time
as possible. They are both significant
events that will require adjustment by
everyone in the firm, as well as clients
and professional colleagues.
A large challenge remains
Our biggest challenge continues to be
local highway authorities. It can feel as
though there is an agenda to frustrate
development, be that for new homes,
new places of work or new places of
shopping, education or recreation.
We work hard to understand the
scope and extent of the transport and
travel issues that arise from proposed
development, and we think deeply,
sensitively and creatively about
the range of solutions available to
accommodate them as optimally as
possible. It is always a balance.
Yet officers of local highway
authorities seem to be convinced
that we endeavour to make overly
optimistic assumptions in the analyses
that we carry out and value-engineer
our proposed solutions to such an
extent that they risk overburdening
transport infrastructure. In our
experience, the opposite is true.
Developers’ customers – whether
they’re prospective homeowners,
employers, shoppers, students or
leisure seekers – are easily influenced
people who can be quite easily put off
by inadequate access arrangements
that frustrate and add time to their
journeys. In a period of increasing time
poverty, they are inevitably attracted to
those developments where the access
arrangements are commensurate with
their needs. Successful development
relies on transport planning consultants
like us striking the right balance.
We respect and support the
requirement of local highway
authorities to maintain the capability,
capacity and resilience of the transport
network. That agenda, our agenda and
our clients’ agendas are not mutually
exclusive. They are inclusive, and they
should be expected to be so. They
should require a far more collaborative
approach to transport problem-solving
than we currently experience.
Successful development is one of
the primary building blocks of the
economy of the country. We shouldn’t
be expected to scenario-test a
development proposition until it is no
longer viable – often amounting to
onerous assumption upon onerous
assumption. The answer to the
question should be, “Yes, let’s make it
work together.” If we’re struggling to
do that, let’s work together to find the
optimal outcome that meets the needs
of every user of the transport network.
Since then, we
have instead
organically, at
a slow and
steady pace
Newmarket Street,
Hereford for Widemarsh
Gate Developments

This article was sponsored by Transport Planning Associates. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster