The latest Landor Live webinar ‘Local Transport Planning for the New Era of LTPs’ went live on 4 November and is available to watch for free on YouTube.
Chaired by placemaking expert Emily Walsh, SYSTRA’s Associate Director in the Movement and Place team and a Design Council expert, the webinar anticipates publication of the new Local Transport Plan guidance and the coming review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) both of which will have a major impact on how we build sustainable communities.
First to speak was Lynda Addison who leads on transport planning and integration at the Transport Planning Society as well as being a CIHT champion and Design Council Expert.
Lynda’s message was simple: we know what to do, the question is why aren’t we doing it? The key is deep collaboration across sectors. Fundamental changes to the NPPF are needed as a first step, aligning methodologies around carbon capture and accessibility across planning and transport and offering good examples of what sustainable transport and places look like.
Communication is critical, educating and explaining to local communities, winning the hearts and minds that in turn generate the political pressure that drives better choices.
For Jon Sandford, Senior Manager in the Masterplan Development and Design Team at Homes England, better integration implies a radical re-think in how transport impacts are assessed.
A move away from the ‘predict and provide’ model towards a more vision-led approach. Many of our assumptions about transport need to be challenged. Why should eliminating congestion be a higher priority than limiting C02 emissions? Can we challenge the very idea that congestion constitutes a problem and think of it as a driver towards more sustainable, active modes of transport instead? The challenge calls behavioural engineering to complement the civil engineering that is our comfort zone.
Darren Kirkman, Associate Director at SYSTRA wants to see transport-oriented planning, at the heart of any vision-led development.
This means using a range of policy tools such as lowering parking maximums and encouraging mixed-use zoning to re-focus urban planning on people and active travel. We should work towards the 15-minute city where neighbourhoods are imagined as overlapping, bringing all services to within a short walk or bike ride.
To make it work will require active and public transport networks that are attractive to all potential user types through integration of planning, operations and fare structures, all of which implies much more devolution of powers to local authorities. The current threshold for refusing development on transport grounds should also be addressed.
Paragraph 111 of the NPPF only allows refusal in the case of a ‘severe impact’ on the transport network, but without ‘severe’ being defined developers have too much wriggle-room, meaning that development continues to be done in the wrong places, at the cost of sustainability.
The theme of the 15-minute neighbourhood, was picked up by Niamh Hession, Director of Design for Turley. Niamh has long been placing 15 minute neighbourhoods at the centre of her masterplans for years and argues for a different way of thinking about how places accommodate cars.
Instead of designing around cars and parking, we should think of towns and cities as places that happen to let cars in. We need to think creatively about how to offer realistic opportunities for people not just to leave the car behind, but ultimately to give it up altogether, for existing places as well as new designs.
Investment should be prioritised to reduce car ownership, making it less convenient and rewarding people when they adopt alternatives. We need to get to a place where those alternatives become the norm.
Many more thoughts and ideas were shared in a lively session that included probing questions from attendees. The feeling overall, cautious optimism that we have the understanding and ability to take our places back from the tyranny of the car, to create truly sustainable places to live in, fit for the present and the future.
What happens next with Local Transport Plans and the reform of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and how decision makers respond will be crucial, because there is no time to waste, but on the evidence of this webinar, we have the people and the ideas to do it.
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