While active travel is not a priority area for Transport Action Network, it is something we nonetheless promote amongst a suite of other sustainable transport measures. It is of course very important for new housing developments and rightly should receive a lot of attention in the design of these new communities.
In 2020 the Government published Gear Change: a bold vision or cycling and walking which marks a major shift in the promotion of active travel. It also published new national design guidelines for cycle infrastructure: Local Transport Note 1/20. While not perfect it is a huge step up in standards and should be the benchmark that is used by all developers and local authorities.
In addition, Highways England has funds to help improve facilities for walking and cycling along and across the strategic roads network and therefore it is important to engage with them to ensure that these funds are spent wisely, while at the same time ensuring that Highways England doesn't build in problems for the future with its new road building programme. While Highways England is doing some good things, it is still too inconsistent and disjointed with too many consultants working in silos within its regions.
However, for many people, it will be your local highways authority (county, metropolitan or unitary authority) that will be in charge of local transport. While these bodies may not be the planning authority, as in a two-tier system, the districts and boroughs will be in charge of planning, they will carry great influence when local planning applications are discussed. That's why it is important that local highways authorities understand sustainable transport and don't see it as some sort of luxury or afterthought only to be considered after they have sorted out a big new access road.
If you have any active travel issues, please try contact Cycling UK, Living Streets or Sustrans in the first instance. It is also worth looking at guidance that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have produced. All of these bodies have a wealth of information and resources to help you. If you can't find what you need or want some wider advice or support, please do get in touch.