Integrating the planning and delivery of sustainable transport with development

Posted By: Paul Simpson

Posted On: 20th February, 2019

High-capacity sustainable transport – such as bus, rail and other emerging technologies – and its better integration in planning with development is key if we are to unlock the social and economic benefits of new housing across the country.  These are the conclusions of a new report published this month (18th February, 2019) – more details click here.

City Hall, London, for the launch of the new report.

Our work on the ‘Getting Around’ section of the emerging neighbourhood plan for Yateley, Darby Green and Frogmore took us to the launch of the report by KPMG at City Hall in London, commissioned by Greener Journeys on behalf of the Transport Knowledge Hub, which specifically looked at how these issues impact on the South East of England.

While the implications of the report are for mainly for larger authorities and bodies at regional, county and district level, there is plenty of valuable evidence about the importance of such sustainable transport, ‘along with high quality public realm and walk and cycle links which create attractive and liveable communities.’

As the report says, such integrations, when “planned and delivered correctly, connect people and homes with jobs and social infrastructure” and “has the potential to deliver a range of benefits to people and places, and facilitate the delivery of key Government policy objectives, including: increased housing delivery, addressing affordability pressures, boosting economic productivity, and enabling clean and inclusive growth.”  However, as we have seen far too often in our own wider local area, this just doesn’t seem to be happening – which makes a dependency on the car more, not less likely!

The event brought together policy-makers and service deliverers, with contributions from people like Sir Peter Hendy (Chair, Network Rail); Lynda Addison OBE (Chair, Transport Planning Society); Hilary Chipping (Chief Executive, SE Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership); Naomi Green (Head of Technical Programmes, England’s Economic Heartland); Tom Copley AM (Deputy Chair of Housing Committee, GLA); Claire Walters (Chief Executive, Bus Users UK), Benjamin Clayton (Head of Strategy & Performance, Homes England), Phil Southall (MD, Oxford Bus Company) and Cllr. Roy Perry (Leader, Hampshire County Council).

Among the many valuable conclusions on overcoming barriers between integrating sustainable transport and future development, a clear thread emerging was the demands on authorities to be able to unlock private sector and third-party streams of funding to help make these things more likely.

We will be reflecting a great deal on what we have learnt from the event, and the report, and incorporating some things into our deliberations for the neighbourhood plan – especially one of the questions from the floor about how we best guarantee reports like this are converted into reality.  It was a shame that we were the only people on the event’s delegate list from a place creating its neighbourhood plan.  While neighbourhood plans do not have formal responsibility for transport, they can have a role to play.

And while there were people from groups set up to represent transport users (like Transport Focus and Bus Users UK), one voice which seemed to be lacking was that of ordinary people – whether citizens, passengers, residents or voters.

The research methodology in the report demanded that consultation was with a range of professional stakeholder groups, and those in attendance were almost exclusively full-time professionals and politicians.  It would have been good to find some way of including the voice, as Claire Walters from Bus Users UK put it, of those finding themselves increasingly with no bus service at all, or woeful levels of connectivity.

As someone no longer able to drive due to a neurological condition, without a lift at 7.30am on a Monday morning, I wouldn’t have been able to get from Yateley to Fleet railway station to get the train up to London – no public transport between the two largest towns in my district in Hampshire seems pretty woeful in 2019 – yet we know housing numbers across the district are set to increase considerably – will there be an accompanying integrated sustainable transport package to accompany it?  Let’s use the structure that the neighbourhood planning process provides to support this as far as we can!