Building more inclusive and sustainable communities


Sustainable transport will be key to unlocking the benefits of new housing.  However, there are currently major barriers to integrating sustainable transport with new housing.  Research commissioned by Greener Journeys for the Transport Knowledge Hub has investigated some of the main opportunities and challenges and sets out an agenda for reform.

There is little disputing the fact that Britain faces a major housing crisis and that an imbalance of supply and demand is one of the key drivers.  The solution may seem obvious: build more homes. 

But we’ve also known that for decades that new housing in Britain has been all too often too car dependent, too isolated and too sprawling.  We can’t just build our way out of this crisis.  Unless we provide sustainable transport options alongside new housing, we risk increasing emissions and bringing our local roads to a standstill.  In nose to tail traffic emissions increase fourfold. 


Sustainable transport will be key to unlocking the benefits of new housing, enabling population centres to grow without overloading existing transport infrastructure or causing adverse environmental impacts.  This was one of the key conclusions from KPMG’s first study for the Transport Knowledge Hub.  Developments located in well-connected areas, with good public transport, can generate 50% more positive economic impacts than similar developments located on the fringe[i]

By integrating new housing with sustainable transport, we can support increased levels of housing and facilitate higher density development.  By linking people more efficiently with jobs we can drive higher levels of productivity and stronger job growth.  By connecting people with opportunities, we can create more cohesive communities.  A 10% improvement in connectivity (by local bus services) is associated with a 3.6% reduction in social deprivation.

But there are big barriers to integrating sustainable transport within new housing developments. For instance, planning and delivery for local public transport and new housing too often operate in silos. And a fragmented, short-term funding regime prevents Local Areas from planning strategically.  Further research by KPMG for the Transport Knowledge Hub[ii]identifies some of the biggest barriers and sets out a call for action that can be distilled into three key themes[iii]:

First, we need a clear commitment from Government to promote sustainable transport as a means of realising the economic, social and environmental benefits of new housing.  We need a joined-up approach to housing and transport, to encourage the development of higher density housing in locations that are, or could be, well served by high-capacity sustainable transport, such as trains and buses.

At the forthcoming Spending Review, the Government should bring together the current capital and revenue funding for local transport and housing into longer-term funding packages, devolved to Local Areas.  Local Areas could then deliver more effective sustainable transport solutions that can be fully integrated with new housing developments. That’s the second big theme: positive action from Government, to enable Local Areas to invest and plan for local transport and housing on a more strategic basis.

Finally, Local Areas and transport providers should work together more closely to ensure that sustainable transport provision is designed in from the outset and supports the introduction of public transport services.

Taken together, these proposals would enable central and local government, LEPs, transport operators and private developers to achieve better integration between new housing and sustainable transport. That way, we can make the most of our opportunities to build more prosperous, more inclusive and more sustainable communities. 

Stephen Bennett, Chair of TPS commented:

“This new report provides really useful advice on removing the barriers to integrating sustainable transport within new housing developments.  This is a topical subject for the Transport Planning Society given our collaboration with Transport for New Homes in our Transport Planning Day campaign this year, which aims to recognise recent housing developments which enable and promote walking, cycling and public transport and avoid dependence on cars. I urge all transport and development professionals to take a look at the recommendations in the report and work together to deliver better places for people to live in future.” 

[i]Sustainable Transport:  the key to unlocking the benefits of new housing KPMG, May 2018

[ii]Integrating the planning and delivery of sustainable transport with new housing development KPMG, February 2019

[iii]Making the most from investment in new housing, Transport Knowledge Hub, May 2019


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