London’s housing developers are ‘locking residents’ into car ownership

Housing developers in London are ‘locking residents’ into car ownership, a report has argued.

Think tank Centre for London has published a new report called Building for a New Urban Mobility, which says that new housing developments are failing to provide residents with healthy and sustainable travel options.

The Mayor of London is aiming for 80% of all trips in London to be made on foot, by cycle or using public transport by 2041, but the report suggests that based on the rate of progress, London would only reach this target by 2070.  

The report finds that development decisions can be based on out-of-date predictions about the travel choices and patterns of future residents, an issue which is compounded by under-resourced planning and development departments in local authorities. 

It also found that some developers and local authorities lack the expertise to build new homes which are sustainable and adaptable to future transport innovations such as automation, electrification and shared mobility services.  

It recommends that where a lack of alternatives means that car parking spaces must be provided, this should be with an explicit plan for transition to a car-free future.

It suggests residents should be offered short-term renewable membership of parking and charging schemes, rather than permanent ownership of spaces. Parking spaces should also be located and built to allow conversion to alternative uses (such as storage, delivery collection points, additional bicycle parking or even new housing or workspace), as private car use declines in the future.  

New developments would also benefit from the creation of ‘mobility hubs’, funded by the government and City Hall. These are public spaces with covered waiting areas, green spaces and wide pavements which provide space both public and shared modes of transport such as car, bike and taxi hire or drop-off, rail and bus interchanges, and parcel pick-up stations. 

Nicolas Bosetti, Research Manager at Centre for London and co-author of the report, said: ‘For decades the way Londoners travel around the city has barely changed, but we now find ourselves on the brink of a “new age” of urban mobility.  

‘Greater vehicle connectivity, automation and electrification and other transport innovations have the potential to be as transformative as the invention of the private motorcar.  

‘But rather than preparing for these transport innovations, developers and planners are at risk of locking citizens into 20th-century patterns of car ownership and use by allocating space and investment to private car parking spaces. 

‘Developers and planners should design for New Urban Mobility – favouring flexibility, supporting walking, cycling and public transport use, minimising car parking and enabling its adaptation over time.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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