On 21st  October, a large number of people working across the transport planning sector attended a joint TPS and CIHT event at Queen’s University in Belfast to discuss the new ‘Better Planning, Better Transport, Better Places’ guidance.

Lynda Addison, Chair of the Sustainable Transport Panel of CIHT, provided an overview of the new guidance for attendees and this was followed by a panel discussion including representatives from the Department for Infrastructure, Translink and Belfast City Council.

Lynda outlined how we are living with a legacy of recent development that has essentially been designed around the private car, with active travel and public transport often given little more than a passing acknowledgement. This ‘business as usual’ approach has done nothing but reinforce car dependence.

It is now more critical than ever that development is located in the right place, makes the best use of the space it takes up and gives people a greater choice of travel options. We ought to be designing places for people, not cars; and focusing on accessibility to the transport system rather than obsessing about individual mobility.

Lynda highlighted the increasing impact that transport is having on climate change, our health, congestion, air quality, the environment and the economy. 

Lynda gave an overview of the key recommendations of the new guidance. It is critical that agencies and stakeholders decide and agree on a clear vision for the future, outline the steps needed to achieve it and then create the policy needed to deliver it. The vision must integrate and align with other relevant policies and strategies, be evidence based and then delivered through collaboration. This requires consideration of transport issues, utilising the expertise of transport planners, from the outset.

A simple way of describing this approach is to ‘decide and provide’ for the future that we want, rather than ‘predicting and providing’ based on previous observed behaviour, which has been seen to just perpetuate car dominance.

There was significant agreement amongst the panel members that things need to change, and there was enthusiasm about how we might engage society more widely in these ongoing discussions. It was noted that the younger generation do seem less wedded to their cars, being more open to sharing their mobility, which also offers hope for the future.



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