UTG promotes ‘transit oriented development’

New housing developments should be planned with transport in mind to prevent car-based urban sprawl, according to a new report from the Urban Transport Group.

The report describes ‘transit oriented development’ as a principle of putting public transport front and centre in new residential and commercial developments, with the aim of maximising access by public transport, encouraging walking and cycling, and minimising the need to own and use private cars.

The report, ‘The place to be: How transit oriented development can support good growth in the city regions’ says that if the UK is to avoid car-based urban sprawl and traffic congestion, then housing must be built close to quality public transport links. It points out that between 2015 and 2017 more than half (53 per cent) of the planning permissions for the 220,000 new homes within twelve of England’s city regions were more than 2km from a railway station, and only 20 per cent were within 800m.

UTG says that new schemes should be located near existing stations or transport hubs, on brownfield former industrial sites (many of which are often located on rail corridors or are indeed former rail industry sites), or at suburban locations with good access to rail stations.

The report also identifies associated benefits for local economies, air quality and carbon emissions, social inclusion, employment and skills; health, and public transport patronage.

“Transit oriented developments are an idea whose time has truly come,” says Tobyn Hughes, managing director, Nexus and chair, Urban Transport Group.

“This is because they have the potential to help meet the UK’s housing demand and reduce car-dependency and urban sprawl, whilst contributing to a host of wider public policy goals for city regions.

“But if we are to embark on a new era of transit oriented developments, and realise the benefits they can bring, we must overcome a series of obstacles and barriers around the planning and funding of these developments.”