4.1 Given the geographic area that is covered by the District, a good transport system is fundamental to its efficient functioning. Eden is characterised by small, scattered settlements. Effective transport links are therefore important to the local economy, to residents and to visitors. However, the small size of many of the settlements means that they are unable to support a viable public transport system. Only Penrith is served by public transport links within the town and to Carlisle which meet journey to work needs, apart from those settlements with early morning services along the Settle-Carlisle Railway line. Elsewhere people are dependent upon the private car for such trips, although there are public long distance services both by road and rail. As has been indicated elsewhere, the Local Plan has responded to Government guidance on reducing the need to travel by allocating land both for housing and employment in rural centres. It is necessary to recognise that there will be continued dependence upon the private car, without which life in rural Eden would be impossible. A consequence of this circumstance is that it continues to be necessary to make parking provision at a level which recognises the reality of planning for the needs of a small, scattered rural population.
4.2 The control of traffic flows, access and parking contributes to the creation of a pleasant and safe environment for living and working, as well as ensuring the efficient movement of traffic. Reference is made in the Shopping chapter of the Local Plan to the need for sensitive improvements in the main shopping streets of some of the District's principal settlements in order that they offer attractive environments, as well as improve pedestrian safety. A major objective of this section is to work towards the achievement of a balance between the requirements of vehicles, for access, servicing and parking; and the needs of pedestrians for a safe and appealing environment.
4.3 A secondary, but nevertheless important issue, is that of public transport. Recent years have seen a decline in the frequency and number of bus services operating in Eden, and the future of the Settle-Carlisle Railway has also been in question. Whilst some 80% of households in the District have access to a private vehicle, public transport is particularly important to the remainder, providing access to services and employment opportunities. In order to allow these residents continued access, it is important that the present level of services is at least maintained.
4.4 Improvements in accessibility to services and facilities are also of vital importance to people with disabilities. In the interest of improving access for this part of the population, access issues must receive special attention.
4.5 Finally, the District draws considerable benefit from its access to the regional and national rail network. These links are important to business users, residents and visitors alike and their loss would result in significant disadvantage.
4.6 Having regard to the preceding issues, and to plan principles 5 and 6 set out at the beginning of this document, the following objectives have been identified for that part of the Local Plan dealing with access, parking and transport.
Objective 26 to promote improvements in accessibility for all people with disabilities.
Objective 27 to support the maintenance and enhancement of an adequate public transport network including access to and use of the rail services.
Objective 28 to support justified proposals for the improvement of the regional and local road network, especially where this will resolve safety problems or facilitate environmental enhancement and planned development.
Objective 29 to support proposals for improved traffic management.
Objective 30 to promote adequate parking provision throughout the Local Plan area.
Objective 31 to encourage sustainable forms of transport, including cycling.