Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Car-based estates

An interesting report today from the campaign group Transport for New Homes, which found that, in general, developers in the UK don't think about public transport, walking and cycling when they plan new homes - and, in general, neither do the planning authorities.

Here are two important sections, which may ring bells for you around here...

"Landowners are often keen to sell farming land for housing. Developers do deals with landowners to gain ‘options’ on a number of fields and these are pushed forward as sites for residential
development. With the pressure on to locate sites to meet the five-year housing land supply that local
authorities must have ready according to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the fields that developers are promoting are selected by planners on the basis of ‘deliverability’. Transport assessments are done later, but building new homes in fields so remote from good public transport networks, major employment hubs and services, means that sustainable transport options are perceived as limited from the start and too difficult. The transport assessment instead therefore focuses on the impact of so much new traffic on junctions and sections of roads nearby. Developer
funding then goes into road capacity to enable new car-based estates to be built. "


"One of the consequences of car-based development is the generation of traffic. Using Google Maps you can look at the road network and see where the traffic jams are found. We animated Google maps with traffic switched ‘on’ to condense the rush hour down to under half a minute. We saw the congestion move in waves from junction to junction, revealing the network nature of bottlenecks.

"Many roads between new homes and the urban areas where people work were already full of traffic. It was also apparent that long distance traffic was being held up by local commuter traffic and that this trend is likely to get much worse if we continue to build as we are."

"What about building more roads to compensate? It is impossible to unblock the road network by attending to ‘pinch points’. It is the whole road network that is becoming widely congested around our towns and cities, aggravated by car-based out of town construction. A transport assessment may show two or three thousand new new car journeys a day emanating from a large area of new homes. However the cumulative effects of many new developments across an area is never modelled.

"Spending public money on road building in conjunction with new homes and using scarce developer funds for the purpose, is likely to make matters worse. It actually encourages more distant commuting by car."

"In some cases we heard that locations for new homes were actually chosen because they could fund road capacity – the other way round from choosing a site and then sorting out the roads."

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