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Building Car Dependency: The Tarmac Suburbs of the Future

Date: February 2022

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Many new greenfield housing estates are adding to traffic jams, carbon emissions and are trapping communities into car-dependence.

Our new research, Building Car Dependency, examines 20 new housing developments across England to find out whether they are built around sustainable transport – or the car.

When we first looked at many of these sites as part of our 2018 flagship report, we were told that things would improve. We understood that the new estates would have shops and services within walking distance so that residents wouldn’t have to rely on cars. But with the exception of a few good examples, little has changed and the developments are almost totally car-based.

Priors Hill, Hertfordshire: more cars than homes?

Rather than the walkable, green, and sustainable places that both the Government and developers envisage for future living, new greenfield housing has become even more car-based than before and the trend has extended to surrounding areas, with out-of-town retail, leisure, food outlets and employment orientated around new road systems.

  • Almost all of the developments examined in detail will encourage car-dependent lifestyles, with the car the primary mode of transport.
  • A typical new greenfield development is designed around the car – with as many as 2 – 3 car parking spaces per home.
 At a time of climate emergency and with a need to cut congestion on our roads, this is not the way we should be building for the future. We have to draw the line and do things differently.” – Jenny Raggett, Project Coordinator at Transport for New Homes