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31/10/2019

Transport for New Homes: where are we getting it right?

Words:
Poundbury

If we want more vibrant places served by integrated, sustainable transport, then we need to celebrate the developments that deliver this. A new award does exactly that, says Jenny Raggett of Transport for New Homes

When it comes to new housing developments, fine visions abound. The talk today is about vibrant, walkable places with real communities served by integrated transport – a new, sustainable way of life. The reality is often rather different. Our 2018 visits to more than 20 new large-scale housing developments found that residents often have little choice but to travel almost every journey by car.

The reasons are many, ranging from lack of investment by government in local transport – new rail stations, rapid transit and modern bus infrastructure – to building in the wrong locations: places so cut off from large urban areas that the car ends up being the default. Many local plans also prioritise housing targets with transport limping behind.

But car-dependent new housing is not universal: we found places where householders didn’t need to jump into the car to buy a pint of milk. So, when the Transport Planning Society suggested we run a Transport for New Homes Award as part of its Transport Planning Day, we jumped at the chance.

The Transport for New Homes Award aims to recognise recent housing developments which have been located and designed so that residents do not need cars to live a full life. We asked the public, as well as professionals and housing developers, to nominate developments that have:

  • The right location for sustainable transport links
  • Attractive public transport
  • Good walking and cycling routes, within and in and out of the development
  • A pleasant public realm that isn't dominated by car parking
  • Shops and services close to hand.

We decided to focus on large developments. While we have great admiration for small, low-car places like Marmalade Lane in Cambridge, strategic development offers more opportunity to establish the local services, new public transport links, place-making and mixed-use walking environment that we were looking for. We set a minimum of 500 homes, most of which must be occupied.

We narrowed down the nominations to a shortlist of five that appeared to offer interesting sustainable transport aspects: 

  • Royal Arsenal Riverside with its multiple public transport links;
  • Poundbury with mixed-use development, including offices, shops, pubs, communal areas and even a cereal factory
  • Kidbrooke Village with stunning green space and attractive walking and cycling routes
  • Kilnwood Vale with potential for good bus provision
  • Bath Western Riverside with incentives for residents such as a free one-month bus pass, free car club membership and a £100 cycle voucher. 

We are now visiting the shortlisted developments and assessing them against the Transport for New Homes Checklist. The winner will be announced on Transport Planning Day (20 November). 

Whichever development is chosen, it will have much to teach us about how new housing can address climate change and sustainable travel as well as providing good, healthy living environments.

Jenny Raggett is project lead for Transport for New Homes

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