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Campaigners warn new development could create gridlock

15 June 2015

Campaign for Better Transport has highlighted the risk of the Government's house building and development plans creating gridlock on the road network unless more is done to make public transport integral to new developments. 

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Campaign for Better Transport Chief Executive, Stephen Joseph, says that without stronger planning policies supporting development based on public transport, new housing, retail and office developments risk jamming up the roads and pushing people into having to drive everywhere. 

This draws on research showing that building conventional office space alongside the trunk road network significantly increases both the number of vehicles on the road and journey times. 

Instead, land-use planning and transport policies which support public transport, walking and cycling should be used to promote development that generates less traffic while helping the economy, the environment and public health. New research published today by Campaign for Better Transport, ‘Getting there: How sustainable transport can support new development’ details a range of projects across the country which have successfully combined these objectives. 

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport said:

"You can tackle housing shortages and support new development without resorting to more sprawling suburbs, acres of car parks and big new roads. Our research shows that across the country new housing and retail development planned around public transport is successfully creating better, more economically productive places.

"There is clear evidence that when people are offered high quality public transport a lot of them use it. National Government, local authorities and developers urgently need the vision, skills and support to make this kind of development the norm.” 

With many new developments still being designed without good transport planning, the report cites a series of successful new retail and housing developments which are instead based around a sustainable, integrated transport. These include:

Housing: Scotland’s first new town in 50 years, Shawfair is being constructed on the re-built Borders Railway and has a new station at its centre (due to open September 2015). Shawfair is intended as a self-sufficient community of 4,000 houses, three schools, and shopping and leisure facilities. It will have a journey time to central Edinburgh of under 10 minutes.

Retail development: Kingston upon Hull has made sustainable transport and improved public realm integral to city centre regeneration. The City Council, Network Rail and train and bus operators have worked together to create an £18m transport interchange combining a renovation of the city’s railway station with new bus and coach facilities and an adjacent shopping centre development. This also lays groundwork for the £25m regeneration of Hull city centre as part of the city’s status as UK City of Culture for 2017 which will see a large pedestrianisation programme and other major improvements to the public realm improvements. 

Employment site: The Quorum Business Park near Newcastle consists of 1.5 million square feet of offices space with a maximum of 8,000 employees. Limits on car parking places, a full-time travel co-ordinator, strong public transport links initiatives such as free bike workshops have all contributed to only 55 per cent of staff arriving by car with a target of reducing this to 45 per cent.

The 'Getting there' report also sets out a number of recommendations to help make sustainable transport the norm. These include:

·  Stronger guidance from national Government on minimum standards in sustainable transport for new development

·  Joined up local planning and decision making, particularly where there is a two-tier local authority structure with one authority responsible for land-use planning and another for transport planning

·  More support for local authorities in working with rail and bus companies, where skills and experience are often lacking currently

·  Updated transport modelling that promotes sustainable transport rather than reinforcing past transport trends


1.  Research commissioned by Campaign for Better Transport from the Metropolitan Transport Research Unit looked at the effect of building a business park at 34 of the 40 junctions on a 175 mile stretch of the M1 between junction 8 (St Albans and Hemel Hempstead) and junction 47 (Leeds). This found that:

  • The average increase in traffic flow between junctions on the M1 was 16 per cent (100,000 vehicles per day to 116,000 vehicles per day), the equivalent of one motorway lane
  • Delays increased from the current Department for Transport average of 3.6 minutes per 10 miles, to 6.4 minutes
  • For someone driving the whole 175 miles from junction 8 to junction 47, the extra delay would be 50 minutes, increasing their expected journey time from 3 hours 37 minutes to 4 hours 27 minutes

2. New research ‘Getting there: How sustainable transport can support new development media copies are available from the Campaign for Better Transport website.

3. Text of Campaign for Better Transport's letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is available from Richard Watkins, Campaign for Better Transport – richard.watkins@bettertransport.org.uk