UK transit planning must focus on brownfields regeneration, not sprawl

The UK-based non-profit Campaign for Better Transport says England’s National Planning Policy Framework is failing to ensure patterns of development that promote sustainable transport is undermining social and environmental objectives in planning, says a new report.

Their new report, Getting There: How Sustainable Transport Can Support New Development, says planning for both housing and business uses has been mistakenly designed around road access. It recommends that replacing greenfield sprawl with brownfield housing and reviving town and city centre rather than out-of-town can have benefits for both economy and society.

You can tackle housing shortages and support new development without resorting to more sprawling suburbs, acres of car parks and big new roads,” said Campaign chief executive Stephen Joseph.

The report begins by looking at examples of how spatial planning is facilitating imaginative and sometimes extensive sustainable transport projects as part of the planning process at strategic and local plan level. The report then offers examples of where sustainable transport is supporting economic development both in revitalising existing town and city centres, and as an integral part of new business and retail developments.

It then looks at housing, presenting examples of good practice in both new developments and in regeneration. Finally, recommendations are offered on how the good practice already going on can be made more widespread.

The report goes on to say that there continues to be high levels of public support for a revival of town and city centres. Putting sustainable transport at the heart of this in terms of access to and movements around the high street can be very effective. Policy and investment is needed to make high streets easily accessible, high quality places that are destinations in themselves.

Making pedestrianisation and public transport links a core part of town and city centre regeneration projects increases their attractiveness to local people, enhances them as the centre of the community and helps to tackle congestion. In contrast, weakening parking restrictions (as favoured by the previous Government) risks choking areas with cars and worsening the setting and attractiveness of traditional shopping areas.

The report concludes: “Brownfield land or close to the town centre should come first, with development of greenfield sites only accessible by road considered only when other options are not available, and then should not be taken forward in a way that encourages car use.

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