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Planning reforms could lead to ‘a tide of car traffic’

Campaigners have warned the government that proposed planning reforms could add ‘a tide of car traffic’ to already overcrowded roads and undermine wider social, economic and environmental goals.

Organisations including CPRE, RAC Foundation, Sustrans and the Transport Planning Society have all written to the housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, to warn new housing is being sited in places that cannot be served well by public transport, are inaccessible on foot or cycle and often have few or no local facilities.

The open letter also argues that the design and layout of many developments inhibit walking, cycling and bus service provision; some developments even have no pavements.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has also urged caution over reports that planning reforms will be at the heart of next week’s Queen’s Speech.

‘At present, sustainable transport is all too often treated as an afterthought or even ignored when new housing is being considered,’ said Jenny Raggett, coordinator of Transport for New Homes, which organised the letter.

‘Our on-the-ground research shows that this results in estates where people have to drive everywhere, because they have no alternatives. Future lifestyles are then built around the car.

‘The government’s planning reforms are an opportunity to address this and create attractive places for people to live with good public transport and local facilities that people can walk or cycle to rather than soulless car-based estates.’

Crispin Truman, chief executive of the countryside charity CPRE, added: ‘Planning and transport should be two sides of the same coin. By ensuring all developments include low carbon public transport and active travel infrastructure that fit into people’s lives, we can begin creating healthy, carbon neutral communities. But right now our planning system is doing the opposite, producing dislocated, car dependent and land-hungry developments, especially in the countryside.

‘These ill-conceived developments lock in car dependency and drive up carbon emissions that fuel runaway climate change. But there is a golden opportunity in the upcoming planning bill to change this approach and ensure all developments put public transport links, walking and cycling firmly ahead of road building. It’s high time the government steps up and locks in low carbon public transport for the nature friendly and healthy homes communities are calling for.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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