Creating a New Holistic Plan-making Framework: Hertfordshire’s Growth and Transport Plans

Creating a New Holistic Plan-making Framework: Hertfordshire’s Growth and Transport Plans


Simon Willison, AECOM, Barry Wickenden, AECOM, Giacomo Vecia, AECOM


Growth and Transport Plans (GTP) respond to the challenges of producing enduring plans while providing shovel-ready schemes based on strong business cases and evidence bases. Our conference paper traces the development of the pilot GTP Framework.



In 2014 Hertfordshire County Council were looking for a successor to their settlement-scale suite of Urban Transport Plans. They were seeking a replacement that would recognise planned housing and employment growth, be evidence-based, remain relevant and flexible over time and culminate in ‘shovel-ready’ schemes, each associated with a sound business case and supported by a strong evidence base.

The Growth and Transport Plan Framework has been developed to respond to these challenges, providing a new plan-making framework that attempts to bridge spatial scales and development narratives through evidence-led and interdisciplinary planning. As a concept, it is envisaged a Growth and Transport Plan will be an innovative form of transport strategy, intended to bridge the gap between ambitious high-level planning objectives and specific local contexts. Focusing on growth corridors or urban areas where significant changes in travel demand and associated effects are expected, the Growth and Transport Framework specifically seeks to:

• distil the policies and principles of local and regional transport plans to a growth-focused area;
• assemble a robust evidence base to assist the identification and justification of multi-modal infrastructure schemes, packages, and actions; and
• align these packages to growth objectives and quality of life priorities in order to maximise funding opportunities and deliver positive change.


This conference paper traces the development of the Growth and Transport Plan Framework, the initial project lessons learned, and the current form of the Framework. It seeks to stimulate discussions surrounding innovative and best practice in transport-led development discourses and generate comments from outside the project team to better situate the Framework within wider UK and European planning process discourses.


Three key narratives were identified in the drafting of the Growth and Transport Framework, presented below.

Developing Human Capital, Networks, and Engagement

Developing the Framework required extensive consultation. In doing this the Framework development process took stock of the needs of its consultees and determined what change the Framework could realistically achieve within the current planning context. Active listening was employed extensively allowing for a more meaningful understanding of different stakeholder and council requirements and standpoints. Engagement was also targeted to ensure key voices were heard throughout the process, generating meaningful links with human capital intended to improve plan longevity.

Evidence Based Strategies

Through the accessible presentation of a robust and extensive evidence base, Growth and Transport Plans are set to be led by data. This data, taken from disciplines within and beyond transport (such as public health) works to encourage broader transport-led improvements and empower policy-makers to make informed decisions while providing defensible support for key aspirations.

Enduring and Flexible Planning

Striking a balance between producing enduring plans that also remain flexible to a changing environment is paramount. The Framework explores and addresses this through a live scheme delivery programme and timeline management system. Proposed schemes can be triggered or delayed in line with development milestones, allowing for a well-defined planning programme that can fluidly respond to changes in development timelines or aspirations.


Lessons learned regarding active listening in consultation, the generation of human capital, data management and accessibility, and finding ways to incorporate broader social and public health improvements through transport-led development are all important contributions to the transport planning discourse. The Growth and Transport Plan Framework marks a departure from traditional reactive transport planning practices and offers an alternative process that generates significant human capital through active listening and strategic consultation, draws evidence for aspirations from interdisciplinary datasets, and can adjust and flex to changing development realities through scheme timeline management and planning triggers.

More broadly, the Growth and Transport Plan Framework could have implications for the direction of transport planning in post-recession economies. The challenge for transport planning practitioners to develop plans that both generate economic uplift while addressing problems in social and public health spheres is significant. The best practices developed through the Growth and Transport Plan Framework could carry over into other local and regional planning processes and help inform the future of planning in a more growth-conscious world.

Keywords: [transport strategy, human capital, organisational strategy, evidence-based policy, public health, local authority, planning process]


Association for European Transport