In the rush to build new homes, too many estates are being built without public transport, local facilities or even pavements, leading to car dependence, congestion, pollution and unhealthy lifestyles. Now Transport for New Homes, a campaign group seeking to halt the spread of such car-based development, has produced a Checklist to enable local authorities, neighbourhood groups and others to easily identify housing plans that are likely to result in car-dependent lifestyles.
Conversely, the Checklist will help good housing plans to gain recognition for giving residents real, sustainable travel choices.
The lead author of the Checklist, Tim Pharoah of Transport for New Homes, said:
“Our country desperately needs more homes, but these must be located and designed to ensure that residents do not need cars to live a full life. Our visits to recent housing developments around the country revealed that too many had been built around car use. When housing is built on green fields, far from jobs, shops and services, with inadequate public transport and poor pedestrian and cycle links, residents are forced to drive for almost every journey.
“With traffic and air pollution blighting neighbourhoods, and transport being the UK’s main contributor to climate change, banishing the scourge of car-dependent housing is long overdue.”
Developed with input from bodies representing planning and transport professionals, as well as planners, academics and neighbourhood groups, the Checklist identifies, under ten broad headings, elements that make up a non-car-dependent housing development. These include:
- A location within or closely connected to an existing settlement that has a clear centre
- A welcoming environment, not dominated by car parking
- Local facilities easily accessible without a car
- Frequent public transport services in place from Day 1 of occupation
By considering each of these criteria, users of the Checklist can rate a housing plan as either Red, Amber or Green for how well it will avoid car-dependency.
Lynda Addison OBE FCIHT MTPS, Chair of the CIHT Sustainable Transport Panel, said:
“CIHT welcomes this important contribution to the radical changes needed in the way that homes and transport are designed to ensure that people can chose to live healthier and more active lives as part of their daily routine. This complements the forthcoming advice on ‘Better planning, better transport, better places’ that is about to be published by CIHT in partnership with TPS and the RTPI.”
Written without jargon, the Transport for New Homes Checklist is intended for use by local authorities, developers and neighbourhood groups alike to root out car-dependent housing plans. The Checklist will help to identify how such plans can be improved, or why they should be rejected altogether.
The Checklist can also be applied to developments that have already been built so that lessons can be learnt. Transport for New Homes has applied the Checklist to recent housing developments at Bath Riverside in the centre of Bath, and Castle Mead on the fringe of Trowbridge, Wiltshire.
Bath Riverside is a development of apartments and some town houses built on the site of a disused gasworks in the centre of Bath. It is well situated for walking to shops, entertainment, the railway station, bus station and bus stops. Car parking is limited and the public realm is shaped around walking. The development has contributed substantially to public transport improvements in the wider area and to new local pedestrian links.
Bath Riverside received high scores for its location, its walking routes and its public transport connections. It also scored well for its density, and for its attractive layout. When rated by different people its overall score ranged from 76% to 81%, giving it a GREEN rating.
Castle Mead consists of some 600 homes built on green fields on the fringe of Trowbridge, Wiltshire. The new homes in part financed the construction of a bypass for Trowbridge and this road effectively cuts the estate in half. With few facilities on site, people wanting to walk out from the estate to shops or services either face a circuitous walk including an underpass, or must walk along the bypass with no pavements. Bus links to Castle Mead are infrequent and the station is a forty-minute walk away.
Castle Mead received low scores for its location, its walking and cycling routes and its public transport connections. Its density was low and its streets were dominated by car parking. When rated by different people its overall score ranged from 11% to 22%, giving it a RED rating.