"Green oases" likely to lack alternative transport
Hundreds of thousands of residents in new garden towns and villages could be left car dependent rather than having a good choice of public transport and active travel options.
Research by Transport for New Homes – on whose steering group the RAC Foundation sits – looked at plans for 20 garden communities and found that they are likely to generate “high levels of traffic on surrounding roads including motorways.”
The study says that despite the new emphasis put on cycling and walking as a result of the corona virus many of the proposed garden villages “will be largely unsuitable for walking and cycling due to their remote location, their layout and their lack of safe routes in and out of the estate. Local facilities may well never materialise in these car-based developments.”
Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation and a Chair of the Steering Group for Transport for New Homes, said:
“The vision for garden developments is laudable but is at grave risk of being missed – far from being delivered in a way that would encourage us to leave our cars at home the reality looks set to ingrain car dependence.
“Living completely ‘car-free’ is probably a pipe-dream outside the centres of our towns and cities – the reality is that many of us will still wish to own and use our cars but not want to be forced to get behind the wheel for every trip we make.
“Good road connections matter: they’re vital for buses, bicycles and, as we’ve learnt in recent weeks, delivery vans too, not just for the private motorist. But they have to be designed with a sensible layout, including wide footways so that walking to the local shops or to school is a safe, practical and appealing proposition.”
Amongst the report’s findings are that:
- All 20 of the Garden Communities examined in detail will encourage car dependent lifestyles with the car the primary mode of transport at every single one.
- These 20 settlements will create up to 200,000 car dependent households.
- Only one settlement (Aylesham – although itself not funded by Homes England) offers amenities and a railway station within 1 mile of every home, though the train service is infrequent and there are no safe cycle routes to access it.
- All other settlements failed to provide access to amenities and a railway station within 1 mile of all new homes with safe walking and cycling routes.
- None of the 20 settlements will provide bus services to all households all day, all week.
- Cycle routes from Garden Villages into nearby towns will often be long and dangerous.
- Residents will have to walk up to 7 miles to access a railway station or go to the shops.
Transport for New Homes recommends that:
- Commission an urgent reassessment of the sustainability in transport terms of all planned Garden Communities and do not give outline planning permission until it is clear that sustainable transport elements in each vision are fully funded and specified.
- Build close to existing town centres or create strings of developments along public transport routes, rather than scattering developments around the countryside.
- Direct Government funding to public realm, place-making, and sustainable transport including Dutch-style cycling networks, local rail, rapid transit, buses and trams.
- Make sure that sustainable transport infrastructure is funded to extend beyond the site boundary.
- Put kickstart funding and other financial incentives in place to establish shops, cafes, pubs, shared workspaces and other local facilities with the development, creating a walkable community.
Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation
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Notes to editors:
The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users.
The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist. All the Foundation’s work is available at: www.racfoundation.org