Memorandum by the Royal Institution of
Chartered Surveyors (IT 130)
RICS has over 90,000 members, many of whom are
involved in property development and developing related infrastructure
or advising on planning requirements. Property valuation forms
a significant part of their work. The quality of infrastructure
and accessibility of sites and centres will have a critical impact
on land values and uses.
In July 1996 the RICS launched a strategy paper
called "Shaping Britain for the 21st Century" which
sets out our land use and transport strategy. A copy is attached.
One of the central themes was the need for an integrated land
use and transport policy. We are, therefore, pleased to see that
at the heart of the Government's policies on transport is the
commitment to develop an effective integrated transport policy
which provides genuine choice to meet people's transport needs.
The RICS welcomes many of the aims of the Integrated
Transport White Paper. In this memorandum we will focus on areas
related to the operation of land and property markets and the
relationship between transport infrastructure and land use in
which our members have special expertise.
We note that responsibility for implementing
key aspects of the White Paper, particularly relating to congestion
charging, falls on local authorities. It is essential, therefore,
that local authorities operate within a broader, more strategic
context firmly established by central government to prevent conflicting
policies being pursued by neighbouring authorities. Without a
broader national or regional context the adoption of measures
by individual authorities could be ineffective or even be self-defeating.
The Need to TravelReducing
the need and distance to travel is the key to relieving congestion.
The strong emphasis on this aspect in the White Paper is a welcome
Best Use of Existing InfrastructureThe
need to make best use of existing public transport infrastructure
is essential, for example by allowing well designed, increased
development densities around existing transport nodes. The RICS
has published a paper in support of such an approach (see Appendix
1) and joint RICS/DETR research on this issue is now underway.
This would also facilitate access by walking and cycling.
of town centres is the key determinant of property investment
in traditional urban cores.
Mobility of Property CapitalIf
charges are inappropriately applied there is a danger of increasing
the value of out of town or off-centre sites and, thereby, increasing
development pressure for them. This would be to the detriment
of traditional centres and increase the difficulty of providing
and accessing a public transport infrastructure to serve the population's
differential application of measures (particularly charging mechanisms)
between local neighbouring authorities could prejudice investments
made within existing urban centres. Strong regional guidance is
essential to ensure that competition between neighbouring centres
does not work against the aims of reducing social exclusion, reducing
car dependency and promoting sustainable development. Current
guidance is often not applied by local authorities very rigorously.
Rural AreasThe situation
in rural areas is especially acute. Rural residents have become
dependent on the ability to access a range of centres in order
to make use of facilities which are often provided by single centre
in more urban areas. The problems of providing a network by public
transport is further exacerbated by this trend.
One of the most welcome aspects of the White
Paper is the recognition that funds raised by congestion charging
or by taxes on car parking should be hypothecated to fund improvements
in transport provision. Funds raised which are subject to hypothecation,
however, must be used as additional resources to fund improvements
to public transport. Existing support should not be reduced in
order to take account of any new resources raised.
Detailed research into pricing mechanisms will
be imperative so that detailed guidelines can be published to
inform local authorities of the implications of varying levels
of charging. It would be necessary to explore, for example, at
what level would a charge become a factor affecting the choice
of mode of travel and at what level would a charge begin to enhance
the value of "off centre" locations rather than acting
as a revenue raising measure?
The application of congestion charging must
be balanced with other measures already in place, for example
existing car parking charges and the provision of public transport.
If congestion charging is considered in isolation, traditional
centres in urban and suburban location could become less attractive.
This would run contrary to PPGs 6 and 13.
If charges are applied inadvisedly there exists
the possibility that out of town sites will become more attractive
and their values will be increased. This would have the reverse
effect of the Government's stated intention of revitalising town
centres by increasing development pressures in out of town locations.
If investment is discouraged from traditional centres it could
prove very difficult and costly to reverse the decline.
The application of "sticks" before
"carrots" may have a similar effect. If, for example,
road pricing is introduced at a level that deters car use before
improvements have been made to public transport, then once again
this will enhance the value of out of town sites and greenfield
locations, whilst decreasing investment in central property locations.
Further decentralisation of property investment
would also increase the problems of public transport provision
as remote and disparate locations do not allow for provision of
a network easily served by public transport. This would increase
employees/consumers dependence on private transport. It would
further also add to the social exclusion experienced by those
without access to a car; again, this would be against the stated
intention of the Government.
The mobility of property finance within an increasingly
global economy means congestion charging would have implications
for competing centres at all levels and may deter some centres
from levying charges. This problem would be especially acute where
competing centres are in close proximity. For example, Newcastle
might be reluctant to apply charges if Gateshead chose not to
do so. Regional guidance would be needed to guide the application
of new charging measures in such situations just as National guidance
would be needed on how competition and charges would be managed
between regional centres such as Birmingham and Manchester.
National government would also need to examine
the impact of charges on the competitiveness of the UK's cities
against those in mainland Europe.
The RICS would wish to see a greater role for
regional policy for two main reasons:
Journeys are often commenced in one
local authority and concluded in another; and
Those making investment decisions
are not restricted to one centre but will wish to examine competing
sites in similar areas.
Transport networks often span several authorities.
Improvements to a network in one area may be frustrated by the
failure to improve the network in a neighbouring location or to
charge additional fees for its use.
When decisions are made relating to property
investment the relative values of sites will be affected by accessibility
and the level of charges applied.
The market which would be affected by the application
of charges is a complex one. To effectively set charges for a
locality the authority would need to have an exceptional knowledge
of the land values in its area and the effect of charges in competing
authorities. The level of the charge would then have to be balanced
against the desired effect, for example influencing the choice
of transport mode or raising revenue.
Any proposed measures must be examined from
the differing perspectives of investors, occupiers and developers.
If the intention is to enhance values of town centres and promote
accessibility there must be a latent market demand that would
be stimulated by the measures. Conversely, the latent demand around
out of town sites must also be examined to ensure that measures
introduced in and around town centres do not enhance the market
values of other areas.
Stronger regional guidance would also be required
to ensure that local authorities were not tempted to relax parking
standards to allow more spaces to be provided and thereby increase
revenue gained from parking taxes.
The size, location and extent of the zones within
which charges would be levied would also have critical effects
on the property market and this could bring about changes of use
in certain locations and blight in others. For example, areas
immediately beyond the "priced" zone might become more
attractive. It would also need to be clarified whether charges
would be applied to traffic moving within and between urban areas.
A cautionary note must also be sounded when
considering the impact of charges on the values of surrounding
areas. For example, areas immediately outside of the "priced"
zone would tend to become more attractive. Commuters may be tempted
to park away from "priced" areas and then make the final
stage of their journey by foot/public transport. This may increase
congestion in other areas where it can less easily be dealt with.
This scenario may increase the use of residential or minor roads
for through traffic and parking, thereby lowering residential
values. An illustration of such an impact would the need to create
controlled parking zones around District Line tube stations following
the closure to private vehicles of Hammersmith Bridge.
Plans to improve and fully integrate public
transport can only be realised with regional governance and if
The Government should encourage higher densities
of development where they would be well served by existing public
transport nodes or corridors. We are pleased to see recognition
of this in the White Paper. Such developments would have to be
well designed and of mixed use in order to maximise benefits an
create attractive areas in which to live and work. This would
also help to achieve the Government's aim of locating 60 per cent
of new homes on previously developed land as well as reducing
Increasing densities need not lead to high rise
developments. The densities of many Georgian developments such
as those in Islington or Edinburgh's New Town are above the modern
maximum permitted densities, yet are much sought after properties.
Good design will be essential to cutting journey lengths and increasing
the convenience of public transport.
Enhancing the standard of infrastructure in
and around "brownfield" areas to be targeted for development
will be essential to raise values and attract private finance.
Recent RICS research
has found that the standard of infrastructure is the most important
factor in improving the flow of private sector finance by institutional
investors, property development companies and property investment
"Out of town" sites have benefited
from the considerable investment in trunk roads in the 1980s which
added value to sites with access to trunk roads. By contrast transitional
centres, where service and public transport provision are more
cost effective, are currently devalued by both congestion and
poor standards of public transport and hostile environments in
which to walk or cycle.
Where developers are asked to contribute to
public transport infrastructure there is little guarantee it will
be directly beneficial to the development itself or that the benefit
provided will be maintained at all with deregulated services.
For example if a bus stop or interchange is supported by a developer
there is no guarantee that it will be utilised by private bus
operators or that certain frequencies or standards of service
would be adopted.
The inappropriate application of planning obligations
can force development on to more profitable "greenfield"
locations where the cost of meeting obligations can be more easily
absorbed by a developer.
The development of leisure facilities is frequently
lost to town centres because of the application of stringent planning
measures. This is clearly, a dilemma because such facilities are
often crucial in revitalising town centres.
Large-scale leisure developments pose particular
problems. They are often crucial components in revitalising town
centres but many developers of such facilities are reluctant to
provide them in the absence of extensive parking facilities. Without
strong regional guidance such facilities will inevitably gravitate
towards out of town locations.
The UK's rural residents have particular problems
with transport due to the centralisation of jobs and services,
coupled with the pressure for highly priced residential development.
A highly mobile population has moved into rural areas, marginalising
low income rural households and increasing social exclusion.
The decline in local services has been highlighted
by the Rural Development Commission. Centralisation of jobs retail
facilities, social and financial services away from villages has
made rural residents dependent on the ability to travel to a range
of neighbouring towns to access facilities which are often provided
by a single centre in more urban areas. This trend has exacerbated
the problem of providing public transport in rural areas. Many
low income rural households are now reliant on the use of a car.
For the very nature of such rural employment, such as agriculture
and forestry, makes that ability to access remote locations essential.
This highlights the need for transport and development planning
to be integrated. The provision of affordable housing close to
employment opportunities and more mixed development to reduce
the need to travel is therefore essential. Any measures affecting
car will, therefore, have to be applied very carefully in rural
21 September 1998
1 Accessing Private Finance-supported by Joseph
Rowntree Foundation, RICS Research publications 1998. Back