Tag: Buses

New Checklist to help root out car-dependent housing developments

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
RATING: GREEN

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
RATING: RED

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.

Under development: the Transport for New Homes Checklist

Sorry, the deadline for feeding into our Checklist has now passed.

When it comes to avoiding car-dependency, what are the various elements that make up a good housing development?

Some are obvious: the development should have easy access to direct and frequent bus routes, for instance. Others are often forgotten: cycle routes should not end at the site boundary but should join up with a wider network. Homes should have secure, easy-to-access bike storage.

Transport for New Homes is developing a Checklist (currently in draft form) that can be used to assess new housing for how well it avoids car-dependency. We hope our Checklist will be used by a wide variety of people, and at the Local Plan stage of planning, not just when applications are made. It can also be used to score existing housing developments.

As we develop our Checklist we’re appealing to our network of planners, politicians and professionals, academics, campaigners and local residents to help us make it as useful as possible. What do YOU think the checklist should include?

Please read our draft Checklist and then use the form below to tell us if we’ve missed anything.

Feed into the Transport for New Homes Checklist

Sorry, the deadline for feeding into our Checklist has now passed.

Simon Norton

In Memoriam Simon Norton

We were deeply sad to learn that Simon Norton, a supporter of Transport for New Homes since its inception, passed away in February 2019.

A passionate and thoughtful campaigner for sustainable transport, Simon Norton helped to set up Transport for New Homes and funded the project through the Foundation for Integrated Transport, a grant-making charity that he founded and chaired. Simon was a member of our steering group, and he helped to research our Transport for New Homes report, visiting a number of new housing developments and assessing their public transport provision.

Jenny Raggett, lead author of the report, accompanied Simon on some of these visits. Jenny remembers Simon’s unique approach, his humour and the extraordinary depth of his knowledge:

 I could describe the unique experience of going to Priors Hall’s Park housing estate with Simon as part of the Transport for New Homes visits. This could include the detailed knowledge that Simon had of the naming of bus stops and the exact departure times of buses at Corby station on the way, the fruitless pursuit of somewhere for tea in the enormous development without any facilities, how we got a tour in the developer’s 4×4 because he had rarely seen any pedestrians and wondered what we were doing, and how Simon designed a bus service in his head on the spot and told the developer all about it in detail. Then there was a cross country walk afterwards organised by Simon to see a nice village followed by a race across a field with a very tall crop to get the bus back, Simon waving an OS map saying that the footpath was definitely this way and that if we missed the bus there wasn’t another one that day. We did catch it…”

Simon’s work was guided by a deep concern about climate change and a core belief that good public transport is a human right. Just days after his death, the Committee on Climate Change adopted the key findings and recommendations of the Transport for New Homes report – a great tribute to Simon’s vision.

The Committee on Climate Change says:

 New developments should enable sustainable travel, which should be a primary consideration from the beginning of the planning process. This includes planning neighbourhoods around infrastructure to encourage walking, cycling, the use of public transport and electric vehicles. Walking and cycling routes should be well lit, feel safe and be segregated from busy traffic. Integrating consideration of sustainable transport into plans for new houses should ensure developments are easy to serve by public transport. Local authorities must consider where best to locate new homes to minimise the need to travel to work and amenities such as shops and schools.”

This is just one way in which Simon’s legacy will live on.

The Transport for New Homes Charter is dedicated to Simon.