Tag: Car clubs

Bath Riverside

Transport for New Homes Award: Bath Riverside

Bath Riverside was announced as winner of the Transport for New Homes Award 2019 in the non-metropolitan category. Judge Tim Pharoah, who visited the development, tells us why.

All too often new housing is built around car use, but Bath Riverside bucks the trend in a positive way by providing really good walking, cycling and public transport options. One resident remarked: “My car is parked in the underground car park, but mostly I just walk or cycle”.

All new developments should be located so that people living them are not required, or even tempted, to use cars for getting around. Generally the best way of achieving this is to locate new homes within the existing urban envelope of the town or city. Bath Riverside is an excellent example of this.

The development of apartments – and some town houses – occupies the site of a disused gasworks about 1 km west of the centre of Bath. Located on the banks of the River Avon, it is well situated for walking to shops, entertainment, the railway station, bus station and bus stops. Car parking is limited and mostly out of sight, while the public realm is shaped around walking.

Attractive and direct pedestrian routes through the development link up with two traffic free walking routes into the centre of Bath. One of these is a shared walking and cycling path (the well-known Bristol-Bath traffic-free route). The annual monitoring report for the scheme shows that the great majority of residents walk or cycle to get about the city.

The development is also highly accessible by public transport, with local bus stops a few minutes’ walk away on main roads either side of the development, served by no fewer than 14 bus routes, some of them operating at high frequency. A bus into the centre arrives every 5-10 minutes, and the key bus stops have real-time information screens. A free one month bus pass is on offer to every Bath Riverside household, as well as free car club membership and a £100 cycle voucher.

Bath Riverside, built by Crest Nicholson, exploits its position on the south bank of the River Avon with two attractive public spaces and views across the river from many of the apartments.

When checked against the Transport for New Homes Checklist, Bath Riverside received high scores for its location, its walking routes and its public transport connections. It also scored well for its density, which maximises the benefits of the location, and for its attractive layout. There are many facilities nearby, including an excellent playground for children of all ages within Victoria Park. Bath Riverside has already won several other housing awards, including the WhatHouse? award in 2017.

Unfortunately the quality of the walking and cycling environment outside the development itself is quite poor. The local highway authority should be giving much greater priority to the environment for active travel modes. The bus stops also could be better located, and with better pedestrian access across the main roads. Come on, City of Bath, you can do more to support the new riverside developments!

Responsible for Bath Riverside:
Developer: Crest Nicholson
Architect: The masterplanning architect was Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. Five other firms of architects were used for the design individual phases.
Planning Consultant: Savills.
Transport Planning Consultant: WSP.
Local Authority: Bath and North East Somerset Council.

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.

How new housing developments can benefit from car clubs

Guest blog by Rebecca Townend, Co-wheels Car Club.

A car club based within a community can have a whole host of benefits for those who live there. An ideal way of introducing car club cars into a community is to mandate their inclusion in all new residential and mixed-use developments.

A car club is access to a personal vehicle without being tied to ownership, offering flexible use to book and drive. Cars are there to be used when you need them, for a long as you need them, but provide no burden the rest of the time. The upkeep of the vehicles, the insurance, fuel and logistics of a car club will all be taken care of by the provider.

Co-wheels is a car club operator based in Newcastle. It currently operates with over 600 cars UK-wide, including in new housing developments from Bournemouth to Aberdeen.

  • Stoke Quay, Ipswich. This housing development on the waterfront in Ipswich has a shared Toyota Aygo which has become essential in a lot of residents’ day-to-day lives.
  • Barns road, Oxford. The demand in this development in the South East of Oxford is enough to hold two cars – a Toyota Aygo and an Auris Hybid.
  • Aberdeen. Co-wheels have car clubs at four different small local communities in Aberdeen. These support the 25+ vehicles already located in Aberdeen City Centre.

This blog post is going to look at some of the main benefits that car clubs bring and why they can be a great addition to new residential developments:

Enabling residents to access opportunities that would have been otherwise unavailable

Typically, around 1/3 of car club members join in order to gain additional personal freedom. Car clubs provide affordable access to a car without the often-large purchase cost which for some is unaffordable. The main uses for residential car clubs are leisure, shopping and visiting friends and family.

Increasing disposable income

Car club members without a car spend no money on buying or maintaining private vehicles. Additionally, those who use car clubs as a second car or back-up option still save money. The cost of signing up and paying for a car only when you need it is notably less that having a car sitting outside your home that is not regularly used. These members therefore have more disposable income, which is often spent within local communities.

Increasing the use of electric vehicles

Buying an electric vehicle can be very costly. This, alongside the necessary charging infrastructure and electricity use can make EVs difficult to incorporate into everyday life. By using a car club and letting the provider do the hard work for them, members can enjoy electric vehicles without the hassle of private ownership. The increased use of EVs will have a positive impact on the air quality within the local community.

Combating air pollution

There are strong links between the social, economic and environmental demographics of an area and the increased rate of pollution. Rather than residents buying old, environmentally harmful cars for a low price, they could have an option to become a car club member. This saves money and stops unnecessary pollution.

Benefits to the developer

The inclusion of car club cars within a new residential site also brings significant benefits to the developer and is a valuable sales tool. Space that may have been used for personal parking or garages is freed up, providing additional outside green space for the residents. The cost of installing electric car recharging posts is significantly lower than that of providing land for parking and a car club is an attractive additional feature for prospective residents, especially when the developer also offers free membership for its residents.

The relevant local authority will often work with the developer for car club provision through Section 106 Agreements. These agreements would usually ensure that the developer provides suitable space and recharging infrastructure, and some level of pump priming to support the costs of the vehicles as they are established. Developers often recognise the benefit of subsidising membership and driving time, or an associated marketing plan.

Guest blog by Rebecca Townend, Co-wheels Car Club.