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

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260 - 275)



  260. What about housing?
  (Mr Balch) It is the origin of many trips and if people are not able to walk from their house to their bus stop it is not going to help you. If you get everything right at the destination in the town centre and you have not got it right at the origin then you are obviously not going to encourage walking in the way in which you could.

  261. Should more people be encouraged to live in towns and city centres?
  (Mr Tallentire) We are seeing the evidence of almost every town and city having some form of strategy to bring into use and re-use existing buildings. We have a research project coming up very shortly on the re-use of existing buildings for housing and other uses. If you refer back to the urban renaissance of Lord Rodgers' report, they are saying that 90 per cent of our present building stock will still be here in 25 years, so we must learn how to re-use that for the benefit of the town centre.

Mr O'Brien

  262. In your evidence you refer often to people friendly town centres, pedestrian friendly town centres. Give us a brief description.
  (Mr Tallentire) We all know them. I walk a lot and I know when I am feeling comfortable. It is litter-free, it is well lit, it is often with other people on the street, the pavements are repaired, the linkages between crossing roads are accessible, not being corralled, all of those things add to the experience.

  263. Is bus movement within pedestrian priority areas preferable to passengers having to walk to the perimeter to access buses?
  (Mr Tallentire) Our opinion is very much that so many of the issues are local specific, as I said earlier, and therefore what is appropriate in one place may not be as appropriate in another.

  264. Give us your view then. You have got the bus stations now on the perimeter of the precincts. Is that right or should buses go into the precincts? What is your view?
  (Mr Balch) I would echo Alan's point. I think it has to depend upon the location.

  265. What is your view then?
  (Mr Balch) Generally if you are trying to produce a socially inclusive town centre I would want them to penetrate.

  266. Let me put another question to you. Should the Association of Town Centre Management play a leading role in developing quality walking routes to and from bus stops and stations?
  (Mr Tallentire) Yes.

  267. What would you do then on that question? Would you say buses should be penetrating the pedestrianised areas or should people walk to the buses?
  (Mr Tallentire) They should be penetrating. They should be as much inter-modal as the physical structure will allow. This is such an open ended question. One has to take into account the physical location at the present time and the ability to change what is there.
  (Mr Balch) In historic Oxford the buses in the pedestrianised environment I would say is not the right solution and therefore they recognise that and try to produce a different solution.

  268. The title of this examination is "Walking in Towns and Cities". Either we believe in that or we do not believe in it. If you are saying that buses should be able to penetrate the town centres does that not cut across what we are trying to do?
  (Mr Tallentire) I suppose the difficulty is that people want to access the town centre. Certainly if we are looking at PPG 13 and trying to produce inter-modal means where people are accessing locations we have to provide access by car, buses, trams, all sorts of other things as well as walking.

  269. And pedestrianised areas?
  (Mr Tallentire) Yes. You could put the bus stop into the centre with the pedestrianisation round about it so that you are bringing the people into the centre, which is already what we do with the tubes in London.

  270. So this paragraph in your submission when you say that this may mean allowing vehicles into better pedestrianised streets at night is redundant because they are there in the daytime as well?
  (Mr Balch) I think we are talking about allowing public transport to penetrate into centres but you will need to allow certain vehicles to penetrate at different times of the day and night for delivery.

  271. Is that what you mean in this document?
  (Mr Tallentire) No. We are saying that the car should not be accessing the centre during the day but buses and other environmentally friendly inter-modal means should be allowed.
  (Mr Balch) In the evening there are certain situations where it would be appropriate to allow cars in to park.

  272. Give us an example.
  (Mr Balch) Where for instance you have got a number of leisure activities alongside retail where you have restaurants. Why should cars be excluded necessarily, in certain circumstances?

  273. What you are saying is that walking is not the only thing. We want to be able to access with our cars to be on the doorstep of the restaurants and so on. You heard the evidence previously about encouraging people to walk. Is the Association of Town Centre Management saying, "That is not on. The buses should take them to the door of the store"?
  (Mr Tallentire) No. What we are saying is that is no one thing is a sole solution. There are a number of solutions. We are talking about a thousand locations in the United Kingdom and no single solution is the right solution everywhere. This is one of the things that comes very powerfully out of Routes to Success. We cannot come up with a simple solution, wave a wand and you apply it across the whole of those thousand locations. The location is specific and we have to provide an appropriate solution to that specific set of issues, one of which may be to provide access by public transport.

Mr Brake

  274. Is there ever a case for restricting the amount of walking that goes on in pedestrian areas or shopping centres, because my vision of hell is Croydon on a Saturday morning?
  (Mr Tallentire) But that is a function of the success of Croydon. The question is, do you want to restrict the success of Croydon by the efforts and the investment that we are putting in?

  275. I am thinking more also of the impact that that has on people's shopping experience.
  (Mr Balch) I suspect that that would be something that is very difficult to deliver and in the end becomes self-regulating because if you find it hell there will be lots of other people who will find it hell and they will not go on Saturday morning but may go on Sunday morning.

  Chairman: On that note, can I thank you very much indeed for your evidence.

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