News | Published January 21 2020

UCL report criticises proliferation of new housing developments built beside roads

A report by University College London has criticised planners and engineers for allowing new housing developments to be built next to roads which do not accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.

The release of the report comes after a government travel survey suggested that 76 per cent of people interviewed thought that drivers should “reduce how much they use their cars” for the benefit of the environment.

Its author, UCL academic Professor Matthew Carmona, told BBC News: “Far too many new developments are still all about the car.

“It’s all about making sure cars don’t need to slow down. Pedestrians and cyclists just have to get out of the way.

“It’s an approach from the 1960s. We should be allowing people to walk and cycle to get to local facilities instead of having to get out the car every time. But car-dominated developments are still going up.”

The report says that over half of 142 developments surveyed should have been amended to help accommodate pedestrians and cyclists, adding that around three quarters of the developments should not have received planning permission.

The UCL survey used factors such as green space, concentration of local shops and transport links to judge the developments.

Prof Carmona added: “Highways authorities are really problematic – they’re all about getting roads as cheap as possible that can be maintained cheaply – that means large areas of tarmac with no regard for walking and cycling.

“The government’s drive to deliver more homes is absolutely right - but it mustn’t be delivered at expense of the quality of places.”

Andrew Whitaker from the Home Builders Federation told BBC News that builders simply couldn't help many of the issues raised in the survey.

Whitaker said: “Local authorities have an obligation to commit sufficient resources to deal with planning applications efficiently and to work closely with the builder to agree well-designed schemes.

"The overwhelming majority of new home-buyers are happy with their new home and the wider environment around it.”

Prof Carmona said that design standards within some local authorities had not been updated since the 1970s, and called on the government to make the advisory Manual for Streets obligatory.

The government has said that its guidance on roads will be updated in the future in order to comply with its 2050 climate change goals.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
January 21 2020

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