New greenfield housing remains designed around cars

A new report from Transport for New Homes has found that housing developments on former farmland are adding hundreds of thousands of extra car journeys to England’s roads.

With the government insisting that walking and cycling will be the natural first choice for daily activities, the reports seems to oppose efforts to reduce car use. The report says that typical new 'greenfield' homes are designed around the car, with three parking spaces per home fairly common.

Additionally, essential services such as shops, schools and doctors are often almost impossible to reach on foot or by bike, meaning that car dependency is worsening.

Researchers conducted field visits to 20 new housing developments across England. They found that greenfield housing has become even more car-based than three years ago, when the previous survey was undertaken. They say the trend for building with the car in mind extended beyond housing, with out-of-town retail, leisure, food outlets and employment orientated around new road systems.

The report argues that, despite plans for vibrant communities with local shops, leisure facilities and community services, the visions of developers have not materialised. Equally, the excellent public transport promised was often not in place and in some cases had even been reduced.

Jenny Raggett from Transport for New Homes, said: “We can’t go on as we have been, building many hundreds of thousands of new homes in places which are not only impossible to serve with sustainable transport, but actually promote more and more travel by car. At a time of climate emergency and with a need to cut congestion on our roads, this is not the way we should be building for the future. We have to do things differently.

“Small shops, cafes and businesses built for local living are just not there in most new greenfield estates. Local parks, community halls, playing fields and other amenities that would take people away from looking at their screens and encourage them to get out and walk or cycle, appear often not to have materialised.

“Good public transport often remains aspirational with cuts to services looming. For people who cannot afford a car or cannot drive, they are essentially stuck. This cannot be a healthy vision for how people will live in the future.”

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