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Government must plan to avoid car-dependent ghettos

29 October 2008
Government plans in the Thames Gateway growth area outside of London are set to see almost three-quarters of transport expenditure directed to roads [1], putting plans for the growth area at risk of creating car-dependent developments where no one will want to live, according to a new report from Campaign for Better Transport [2].

Based on a worldwide review of research, the report proposes an original and comprehensive checklist of planning measures which would emphasise local travel as a fundamental part of sustainable communities [3]. This is intended as a practical guide for planning authorities, developers and others. Communities should be located near public transport, not the major road network. Housing densities, street design and land use mix should be such as to make it easy to walk and cycle to local facilities and would support public transport services. Other measures would cover car parking, changing travel behaviour and making travel more convenient by other means than the car.

Richard Bourn, the organisation's London campaigner, said:

"The way that developments are planned can generate travel, particularly by car, and have a huge negative effect on our quality of life and on our ability to tackle climate change. Government and planners must reduce the distances that people need to travel by ensuring that shops and other services can easily be reached on foot, by bicycle and by public transport."


Notes for editors

[1] Transport expenditure in the Thames Gateway areas outside London is heavily weighted towards roads. In the Thames Gateway area of Kent, 76% of expenditure on transport schemes is on roads projects. In the Essex areas of the Thames Gateway, the proportion is 68%. In the London Thames Gateway, only 21% of expenditure is on roads projects. (All figures derived from Thames Gateway 2007 Transport Summary, Department for Transport. The figures do not include Crossrail expenditure but Crossrail will not serve either the Kent or the Essex Thames Gateway areas.)

[2] Masterplanning Checklist for Sustainable Transport in New Developments (PDF, 756K), researched by Transport for Quality of Life for Campaign for Better Transport, September 2008.

[3] The Sustainable Transport Masterplanning Checklist covers the following eight topics:


  1. Location of new development
    -- Not close to motorways, or high-speed dual carriageways; within walking distance of major public transport and adjacent to or within urban centres
  2. Density of development
    -- Minimum of 100 dwellings per hectare, 200 if close to very good public transport
  3. Local facilities and jobs
    -- Developments should include everyday facilities and be within walking distance of a local centre; employers should be able to source staff from within a 30-minute travel time by public transport or within walking and cycling distance; car access to employment sites and local shopping centres should be slower, more expensive and less convenient than access by walking, cycling or public transport
  4. Street layout and design
    -- Filtered permeability; low speed limits throughout (maximum 20 mph); home zone street design for residential streets; a network of safe cycling and pedestrian routes; pedestrianised local centres; people-centred attractive street design; cycle storage at local destinations
  5. Public transport
    -- High-quality public transport providing rapid connections to the nearest major employment centre and urban facilities; sites with poor public transport should not be developed until public transport has been improved; direct high-quality pedestrian and cycle links to public transport; cycle storage but minimal car parking at transport hubs
  6. Parking
    -- Maximum parking standards of less than 0.5 spaces per dwelling (that is, at least 50% of dwellings should be car free); parking segregated from homes; a high proportion of car-free housing in new development; limited parking at local facilities and shops
  7. Restraint to car movement
    -- Design developments so that other modes are faster and more convenient
  8. Programmes to change travel behaviour
    -- Residential travel plans from first opening of a development; school and workplace travel plans; car club up and running before first residents move in.

The full report (PDF, 756K)