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Government needs to urgently review private car access in new developments or face gridlock, warns campaign

Campaign for Better Transport says we don't need to resort to sprawling suburbs to tackle housing shortage...

The Government urgently needs to integrate cycling, walking and public transport into its house building programme and other new developments to avoid gridlock, warns the Campaign for Better Transport (CfBT).

In a letter to the new Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DGCLG), Greg Clark, the campaign says planners need to move away from new development designs that risk "jamming up the roads" and "forcing people to drive everywhere".

A report released by the CfBT yesterday, gives examples from across the country where people are being incentivised out of their cars, from an £18m public transport interchange in Kingston upon Hull to restricted car parking and bus vouchers in new developments. According to the figures from the Valuation Office Agency 795,000 homes have been built since 2009, 173,000 of those between March 2014 and March 2015.

CfBT Chief Executive, Stephen Joseph, said: "You can tackle housing shortages and support new development without resorting to more sprawling suburbs, acres of car parks and big new roads. Our research shows that across the country new housing and retail development planned around public transport is successfully creating better, more economically productive places."

"There is clear evidence that when people are offered high quality public transport a lot of them use it. National Government, local authorities and developers urgently need the vision, skills and support to make this kind of development the norm.”

The report recommends the government issues stronger guidance for minimum standards of sustainable transport for new developments and that it updates its transport modelling to promote sustainable transport rather than, it says "reinforcing past trends". 

The report says local authorities need support working with rail and bus companies "where skills and experience are often currently lacking". It also says planning and decision making need to be joined up, in cases where one authority is responsible for land-use planning and another for transport planning.

Shawfair, a new town in Scotland, is cited as a success story, albeit a flawed one. Being built around a new station on the re-built Highlands Railway, a 10 minute journey from Edinburgh, the "self-sufficient community" will nonetheless still be built to conventional standards with high levels of parking at retail parks. At a meeting last night in Edinburgh, held by campaign group Spokes, it was revealed the refurbished Highland Rail trains will only be able to carry two bikes at a time.

The report also highlights city centre regeneration in Kingston upon Hull, of which public transport and public realm are an integral part, including an £18m transport interchange linking the bus and train with a new shopping complex, and further pedestrianisation of the city centre as part of the Capital of Culture event in 2017.

However, it warns car use must be curbed to encourage people out of their cars, citing Stevenage as an example where the network of bike lanes are largely unused as it remains too easy to drive.

In Maidstone, a DCLG-approved project will see the only cycle route across the river removed to cope with extra traffic expected to be generated by a new shopping centre.

A DCLG spokesman said: "The Government welcomes the Campaign for Better Transport's report and will give it proper consideration.

“However it is already a key principle of planning (as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework) to make the fullest possible use of public transport, walking and cycling."

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