Southampton City Council receive £1.225m from Government's Active Travel Fund

Southampton City Council has successfully secured £1.225m from tranche two of the Government’s Active Travel Fund, launched to support the nationwide delivery of walking and cycling infrastructure and ensure safe and sustainable travel throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. The £1.225m awarded to Southampton is 125% of the council's indicative allocation - the maximum funding award available - making Southampton City Council one of the best performing Local Authorities in the country. It comes after the council received a £245,000 share of the Government’s initial £225m Emergency Active Travel Fund announced in May.

This success signals the Government’s endorsement of the council’s approach to supporting active travel during the Covid-19 pandemic, and of the transport schemes proposed in its bid for tranche two funding. The Government has made clear its intentions to back councils which are prepared to deliver meaningful plans that support walking and cycling and has cited the results of a national Department for Transport survey which found that 65 per cent of people across England support such measures in their local area. Similarly, a recent Bike Life study conducted by Sustrans found that local residents in Southampton are equally in support of a re-balancing of transport, with 71% in favour of more protected on-road cycle tracks - even where this means less room for other road traffic. 

This latest funding announcement will see a further £175m awarded to councils across England and forms part of an overall package totalling £2bn. The Government has set out new conditions for this second tranche of funding, which is intended for permanent schemes with Local Authorities being given more time to deliver projects and carry out thorough engagement ahead of their implementation. This is different to the delivery of the tranche one emergency transport schemes that were put in place during the first wave of Covid-19, when councils like Southampton were asked to act swiftly and meaningfully to introduce social distancing measures at the peak of the pandemic and to lock in a positive increase in active travel. This saw measures delivered at pace and experimentally, allowing consultation and scheme adjustments to take place during the trials.

In line with a change of emphasis for tranche two, Southampton City Council will be delivering a range of permanent schemes that will be consulted on to ensure that all road users’ needs are balanced appropriately, while continuing to cement greener, cleaner travel behaviours. In this way, the funding will lend vital support to the council’s Local Transport Plan and the delivery of other planned major schemes over the next two and a half years as part of its Transforming Cities programme. It will also boost the ongoing development of the Southampton Cycle Network (SCN), a key component of the council’s long-term Cycling Strategy.

Schemes expected to be delivered through this funding include:

  • Better cycle connections to Southampton General Hospital through the development of the SCN4 route. Improvements as part of this will consist of:
    1. Cycle route from Lordshill to the Hospital;
    2. Cycle route improvements and crossing facilities on Winchester Road;
    3. Better cycle facilities at the junction of Hill Lane and Bellemoor Road into the Common; and
    4. Further improvements to pedestrian crossings and the pop-up cycle lanes currently being trialled on Hill Lane.
  • On St Mary’s Road, the SCN6 route will be extended, connecting SCN5 on Dorset Street with East Park Terrace.This will also provide better cycle access to the Royal South Hants hospital.
  • The creation of ‘Active Travel Zones’ in the Polygon and around St Mark’s C of E Primary School to help people travelling in these areas to walk and cycle for local journeys. Active Travel Zones are designed to make it easier and safer for everyone to walk and cycle in their local neighbourhoods by reducing through traffic and lowering traffic speeds.
  • A new ‘Park & Travel Hub’ at Bitterne, enabling people to park their vehicles outside of the city centre and access a range of sustainable onwards travel options including cycling, public transport and e-scooters.

Finally, the tranche two funding will support the ongoing expansion of Southampton’s ‘School Streets’ programme, which sees the roads outside of schools closed at drop off and pick up times to encourage active travel and create a safer, greener and more attractive environment on the school run. The Department for Transport’s evaluation of early School Streets projects has shown traffic outside schools has reduced on average by 68%; children cycling to school has increased by 51%; and harmful vehicle pollution outside schools is down by almost three-quarters. In Southampton, School Streets continue to go from strength to strength, with five schemes already in place at schools across the city and more in the pipeline.

Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City and Place, says:

“Southampton is one of only a handful of Local Transport Authorities that secured the maximum funding allocation from the Active Travel Fund. This is testament to the strength of our bid and the scheme specifics that will support the continued recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and, through ongoing investment in active travel, make a crucial contribution to the goals set out in our long-term transport plan.

The expectations of this second round of funding have taken a significant shift towards more permanent schemes, delivered over a longer period of time and closely consulted on with local residents, businesses, emergency services and others. As with all of our transport schemes, we are committed to taking this collaborative and measured approach to achieve long-lasting and impactful changes that will transform how people get in and around Southampton and drive us ever forward towards our vision for a fairer, greener and healthier city.”