Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Legal and General (IT 53)


  1. Legal and General Property manages a portfolio of retail, office, agricultural and industrial property investments across the UK with a value of £4 billion. It has, over the years, carried out significant and acclaimed developments, being one of the largest investors in the UK.

  2. When investing, Legal and General has a high duty to its policy holders to obtain good returns without taking excessive risk. Moreover, the investment market is most competitive, and this means that in order to be attractive to investors, Legal and General can only consider investments which give excellent returns although as a very substantial institution it is able to take long term view. One aspect of this is the ability to create a successful retail or commercial development which appeals to occupiers and their customers. Only successful developments will give good returns, and Legal and General puts a lot of hard professional work and effort into ensuring that its developments will be successful.

  3. Development can only be successful and thus be attractive to investors when certain market conditions prevail. At present market conditions are quite favourable to development, so Legal and General is keen to carry out development, but only if it will be successful.

  4. The Transport White Paper contains a wide range of themes and policy initiatives, some of which will inevitably impinge on development. Many of the themes are carried forward in elaboration of policy which was already in place, such as that in PPG 13, or the wider implementation of Quality Bus Partnerships. Some, such as the intended taxation of workplace car parking, are for new legislation and implementation at the local level.

  5. Our view is that if not carefully considered before implementation, such policy initiatives are capable of giving rise to unintended and damaging effects which could impact adversely upon part of the local economy. It has to be recognised that a significant modal shift away from the car will only occur gradually over time as pubic transport facilities improve and public confidence in the service is established.

  6. More significantly, however, the unwise implementation of some of the ideas in the White Paper may be very discouraging to development, and have an inhibiting effect on the development of public transport. The inter-relationship between new development opportunities, particularly those appropriately located, and the creation of a public transport system that provides real choice must be appreciated. Measures which will have the effect of stifling development will equally stifle the opportunity to provide choice and create a climate where public transport becomes a real option for the travelling public.

  7. Therefore properly located, new development can assist and encourage the development of public transport. Where, in an existing centre, development increases density, it will increase the number of trips, and make public transport more viable. If there is a viable market in public transport, more will be supplied—more buses will be laid on, new routes will be developed, and more frequent services run. But such effects will only occur when development takes place and intensified and critical mass is created.

  8. In most places outside London and the major conurbations, the existing public transport network is insufficiently dense for development to be possible without the provision of adequate car parking spaces. In such a case new car parking is necessary, and enough car spaces will have to be provided, or the development would not take place. This is acknowledged in the White Paper at paragraph 4.113, which says that in new developments parking is to be limited by modern planning policies now being implemented to the minimum necessary, with full provision being made for public transport access.

  9. This is particularly true of retail development in town centre location, which is, however, capable of stimulating the provisions of better public transport as a by-product of its success, but it needs to be understood that adequate car parking has to be provided, or development will not go ahead and the opportunity will be lost. Ease of access is the key to success for town centre users. This is why out-of-town retail and leisure proposals have been so successful in the past and, notwithstanding the sequential test embodied in the PPG6, remain a threat to the town centre and the investment plans of institutions like Legal and General.

  10. Legal and General owns substantial landholdings in the south east of England where the principle of integrated transport development can be put into practice, provided the right commercial conditions are retained through the planning process. Such opportunities occur where public transport provision, although improving slowly, is not comprehensive, but there is a well developed road network serving an existing centre. In such a situation it is possible to enhance an existing shopping centre by introducing additional shopping development in accordance with policy. This will make the existing centre more attractive, building on its location and the existing investment in it.

  11. Provided there is the capacity for new provision for public transport to be introduced into the system, it will enable the development of an integrated public transport system alongside the development. Such a system ought to enhance the attraction of existing routes and create the opportunity for opening up new routes available to the public. Where such conditions exist, it will be possible for new development to go ahead which will both enable the accommodation of better public transport and support it by better patronage.

  12. One example of this type of situation is our present proposals at Bracknell Town Centre, which is being promoted by Legal and General in partnership with the local authority, Bracknell Forest Borough Council. This will make Bracknell, which was one of the first new towns, more attractive to shoppers, and retain its attraction to employers and office workers. The town has been designed to provide this type of environment, and benefits from an excellent road system which has to date only been used to a fraction of its capacity.

  13. In Bracknell, Legal and General is proposing to provide a Bus Station in the south of the town, and a Bus Port to the north of the town, as well as a new fleet of high quality buses which will transport passengers to and from the town centre safely, efficiently and comfortably. Legal and General has undertaken detailed consultations with the regional public transport providers, as well as with the Council. Discussions have focused on assessing the viability and desirability of a wide range of additional public transport and infrastructure proposals including provision of bus priority systems, and encouraging the consumer to use the bus by the offer of a fares rebate in shops when goods are purchased. Our proposals in Bracknell are likely to be the first example in the country of a tripartite "Quality Partnership" involving Legal and General, Bracknell Forest Borough Council and local bus operators. We see this initiative as being firmly in our own commercial interest; an effective public transport system will ultimately enhance attractiveness in both the town centre generally and our development within it. The creation of a public transport system in Bracknell, which will represent the biggest boost to public transport in the history of Berkshire, is only possible because of the scale of regeneration that is proposed in the town centre, the viability of which is underpinned by an appropriate level of car parking to secure retailers and shopper interest in the proposal.

  14. Our proposals will also improve access to the town centre for both pedestrians and cyclists by providing dedicated cycle and pedestrian ways which will provide a high quality, safe and friendly environment to users. It will be socially inclusive. On arrival in the town, it is intended that cyclists will be able to leave their bicycles in secure areas and even be able to use excellent showering and changing facilities.

  15. Our research has suggested that the provision of a location offering this level of critical mass will result in an improvement of 50 per cent in the number of people using public transport, raising the proportion of shopper journeys from twelve to eighteen per cent. This equates to at least one million more journeys by public transport every year in the region. Greater improvements in public transport use may be possible in the future depending upon the relative attractiveness of bus and car routes, the eventual ability of the bus to by-pass car congestion, and the wider environment of economic factors affecting the private motorist.

  16. Such development will also lead to a reduction in the number of private car miles driven both because of the interception of trips to a high quality shopping centre, and due to the availability of a more attractive public transport alternative. However, it is only possible where an attractive development can be created in the context of today's investment conditions.

September 1998

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