‘Get Down to Town’ with Modeshift partner Brightwayz
‘Get Down to Town’ is Modeshift partner Brightwayz’ project to develop a town centre travel plan for their local town – Kettering in North Northamptonshire. Here, Alison Holland, Projects and Partnerships Director at Brightwayz tells us more about the project and how Modeshift STARS is helping.
‘The ‘Get Down to Town’ project’s main objective is to encourage and enable people to choose active and sustainable ways of travelling to and from our local town centre, especially those who work there as their journeys are regular and therefore have the greatest impact. It’s also about encouraging more people to come into the town centre – to enjoy the active travel related events and initiatives we arrange with community partners and help boost the town centre businesses.
The timing is perfect for this project as the Kettering Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) has recently been completed and adopted by North Northamptonshire Council. As the travel plan will be mainly about engagement and community actions rather than infrastructure, it will really complement the LCWIP. Also, the local Greenway draft strategy is out for consultation – these are the initial plans for a network of safe walk and cycle routes across the county, linking towns and villages.
It’s a very short project – due to the funding requirements we need to complete it by the end of December 2023! So, it’s all systems go here at Brightwayz. By the start of November, we will have completed business surveys, the site audit and several of the initiatives and events. By early December we will have completed most of the events including our ‘pedal the Christmas tree lights’ event at the Christmas lights switch on. We’ll be putting in the Modeshift STARS accreditation and doing final events before the end of December.
How did you develop the initial support for the travel plan and what support is there for the initiatives you are looking to deliver?
The idea of a town centre travel plan for Kettering is something we proposed to our former local authority and discussed with the Modeshift team back in 2019 but there was no funding for it at that time. However, our newly formed unitary authority has funded the project from the DfT’s Capability Ambition funding. It is one of several projects we are delivering this autumn – others include cycle training and ‘learn to fix’ for refugees, youth groups and NHS staff. This means that needs identified in the travel plan have the chance of being fulfilled through the other project activities.
Who will be involved in developing the travel plan and delivering activities to promote sustainability across the area?
Brightwayz staff and volunteers will be developing the travel plan and activities with a wide range of local partners. These include existing community active travel groups – such as the GRAIN (Ghanaian Residents Association in Northants) walking group – as well as local councillors, council officers, businesses, schools, other organisations, a community bus operator, the main hospital and the local college.
How do you envisage Modeshift STARS will support this piece of work and how is it enabling you to report progress?
Modeshift STARS provides an excellent framework for us on which to base the town centre travel plan. Our team are already experienced using the system – we supported Rushden Lakes to become the first multi-business retail and leisure site to achieve Very Good ‘Silver’ STARS Accreditation. It’s trickier using it for a town centre as there is no central management for the area so we need different partners to get involved with different aspects. For example, we can monitor the levels of use of different modes of transport into the town with data from North Northants Council. To understand existing travel habits and the barriers to active travel we need to work with the businesses to get them to encourage their staff to take part in an online survey which will go into the Modeshift system.
We are very pleased to have Tom (Murray) from Modeshift on hand to help us when needed too!
As a town centre travel plan is such a novel thing for Modeshift STARS we are sure this project will help generate ideas of more initiatives that could be added to the system for future town centre travel plans. That’s one reason why we are so excited to be pioneering this.
What would you say to anyone thinking about starting their Modeshift STARS journey?
It’s a well-laid path if you choose to start with a school or business travel plan, and a very good structure to use. Many other Modeshifters have been there before so there are lots of good practice examples of activities to inspire you.
Keep an eye out for Modeshift and Brightwayz blogs and newsletters to get more ideas and tips.