Tag: Travel to work

Poundbury

Transport for New Homes Award: Poundbury

Poundbury is an urban extension to the Dorset county town of Dorchester, built according to the principles of Charles, Prince of Wales, on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. Poundbury was highly commended in the Transport for New Homes Awards 2019. Judge Jenny Raggett, who visited the development, tells us why.

One of the few properly walkable places we found, with a full diversity of community provision integrated with new homes, was Poundbury in Dorset.

Although the architectural feel of Poundbury might not be to everybody’s liking, as a greenfield urban extension it is highly unusual in its achievement of a new walkable community, much along the lines of the visions we have seen for the new ‘garden settlements’ that the government hope we will build. Poundbury is green with urban trees and parks. There is a mix of all kinds of homes including rented and affordable accommodation, with offices, cafes, pubs, small shops, a garden centre, supermarket, community facilities and school all within the actual fabric of the town. There are over 2,000 people working in Poundbury and this daytime influx of people, in addition to the 3,500 residents themselves, creates a good footfall during the day for the many eating establishments and shops close by.

We have seen so many greenfield sites that are essentially housing estates with little else apart from a primary school and perhaps a convenience store by the ring road. There is normally a very large supermarket by a roundabout out of town, with a large car park, and the business park off another large junction also comes with a large car park. The nature of destinations as much as the housing itself tell the story. Out of town retail, employment and leisure on separate parcels of land mean driving everywhere.

Poundbury is completely different in this respect. The garden centre with its cafe and the supermarket are right in town, and so is everything else. You can collect the children from the school and walk to the supermarket or other shops; you can go to one of the parks or have tea. If you work in one of the offices or factories you can enjoy a meal out at lunch or pop into the shops without jumping into the car. Walkability is a lot to do with having things to actually walk to – and in the case of Poundbury there are many.

Poundbury

Perhaps it helps also that walking around Poundbury is interesting compared to the other urban extensions we have seen. Different views greet the pedestrian and the varicose nature of the streets beckons you on to see what is around the corner. The number and variety of urban trees very much add to the public realm.

Many urban extensions are cut off from their parent towns so that you can’t reach them on foot or cycle along overlooked streets. In the case of Poundbury, great care has been taken to integrate the new area with its parent town Dorchester so that streets join up – an entirely different model from the roundabout and link road concept so often seen in the ‘classic’ urban extension. What this means is that the new area and its shops and its many community facilities are accessible to a wider population, not just to Poundbury residents.

What about public transport? If you come from a small town in the rural south west as I do, the bus services in and out of Poundbury seem remarkable. The number 10 bus which goes between Weymouth, Dorchester and Poundbury (at Mansell Square) runs 7 days a week at turn-up-and-go frequencies, and continues into late evening, albeit at reduced frequency. Other buses go through Poundbury itself, providing services to Dorchester (half hourly) and to Bridport and Axminster (2 hourly), though not in the evenings or on Sundays. There are two railway stations in Dorchester and if you don’t want to take the bus, there is always the option of cycling to them from Poundbury (10 minutes) or you might enjoy the half hour walk with pavements all the way.

For a greenfield urban extension, Poundbury is eminently liveable; for this it earned the high commendation of our judges.

Poundbury bus

Responsible for Poundbury:
Estate Director: Ben Murphy
Masterplanner: Léon Krier
Architects: Ben Pentreath of Ben Pentreath Ltd and George Saumarez Smith of Adam Architecture
Highways Consultant: Andrew Cameron of Andrew Cameron & Associates
Council: Dorset Council (from April 2019, previously West Dorset District Council)

It’s difficult to produce sustainable travel patterns if you don’t build in the right places

Guest blog by Gordon Stokes, Visiting Research Associate at Transport Studies Unit, University of Oxford

Finding the right places to locate large numbers of new homes and jobs in crowded areas of the South East will need great care if we’re trying to encourage modes other than the car. New mapping shows graphically how people travel to work using 2011 census data, which recorded people’s usual residence location, and where they normally worked, and also asked the main mode of transport that they used. It’s by far the best available data available for looking at how travel to work varies between areas, even though there are many caveats about its accuracy.

I’ve mapped the data in a number of ways, and have recently produced a ‘traffic light’ form of mapping that shows the areas where large amounts of car travel are generated, and where there is much less. The two maps below show the relative distance driven to work, for residents (left hand map) and for each job (right hand map).

Kilometres driven per resident (left) and per job (right) in Oxford to Milton Keynes area. Green circles show low mileage and red/mauve high.

Residents near the centre of Oxford are in the lowest quartile of distance driven (green) while those in Bicester are all in the highest quartile (red and violet). While Milton Keynes fares averagely for residents (yellow and amber), for jobs it creates mileage in the highest 10% (violet). And while central Oxford seems relatively sustainable the workplaces to the South and West produce high mileages.

The maps above are part of a series with commentary relating to the ‘Oxford-Cambridge Expressway’, a sort of outer M25 proposed which would come with 1 million extra homes built before 2050. You can interpret the maps in different ways, but to me they show that the problems of locating those homes and related jobs in a way that could be described as sustainable are immense. Oxford and Cambridge are unique in their makeup and ‘traditions’ of cycling, and it’s difficult to replicate that elsewhere. The maps can be viewed on my website. The pages take some time to load and are pretty useless on a phone, due to their complexity and scale – sorry about that if you’re a phone user!

You can remove the introduction and then view different layers of the map, and read about the patterns shown. More general national mapping can be found at the link at the bottom right, or here.

The Oxford-Cambridge maps show the difficulties for the proposed road and building, but other areas of the country show different issues. London’s well developed public transport network, large scale and centralised jobs (in conjunction with the impossibility of high numbers reaching the centre by car) shows that low driver mileage can be achieved there. Other major conurbations don’t fare so well, with strong centres and strong economy being a key issue. Residents in most large cities use cars less, but jobs in centres such as Leeds and Manchester with strong economies produce much more car travel than Liverpool, Hull, Blackpool and others. But it tends to be those with weaker economies and least developed public transport and least centrality that have the highest rate of travel by modes other than driving, active modes and public transport (which mainly means high levels of travel as a car passenger).

My next stage of this work will be to measure how factors such as distance from motorway, and relative concentration of jobs affects driver mileage, which may help provide better explanations for some of the ‘surprises’ in the maps. At the moment, from this mapping, it’s difficult to say how new development and sustainable travel can be synergetic – it just helps show where not to locate. Hopefully more analysis will provide some pointers as to where it should be.

Guest blog by Gordon Stokes, Visiting Research Associate at the Transport Studies Unit, University of Oxford