Land use planning
21. To a significant extent the convenience of car
travel depends on decisions about land use which at first accommodated
the car and subsequently made it seem to many a necessity. For
many years we have seen developments which are inimical to access
on foot, including low density housing developments and large
scale shopping, leisure and office facilities built out-of-town
or on the edge-of-town. The Regeneration Practice observed that:
"a creeping disconnection
between people and place driven by social and economic trends
has been exacerbated over the last 50 years by the land use planning
system which has encouraged mobility demands, the disintegration
of living and working communities and social dispersal".
22. In opposition to these changes, walking requires
local facilities clustered in high density, mixed developments
since it is subject to a fairly rigid threshold and small changes
in distance can affect whether we walk or not.
The average trip length on foot is 0.6 mile, a figure which has
remained static since 1975. 80% of walking trips are less than
one mile, 97% are less than 2 miles. It is axiomatic, therefore,
that where people have to travel more than one mile, the proportion
of trips made on foot will be small. The proliferation of out-of-town
centres and housing developments in the countryside has accordingly
created a land use pattern which is unsuitable for journeys on
foot. Out-of-town centre stores typically have a modal split for
customers of 80-90% by car. Single use activities provide a further
obstacle to walking. People who walk one mile to a town centre
with a wide range of shops are unlikely to walk the same distance
to reach a single isolated large shop. In contrast people are
far more likely to go to local shops on foot.
23. While there were improvements to planning policy
in the 1990s which restricted the construction of out-of-town
developments, Government research has found that implementation
has been patchy. Moreover, the local planning assumption until
very recently has been that, providing the location is right,
any scale and format of development which a developer brings forward
is acceptable. Yet this is crucial in influencing travel mode.
In particular large format development (large superstores, regional
leisure centres, centralised hospital facilities, university campuses)
usually have to be located out of town because of their land requirements.
They therefore attract journeys from a wide catchment area, thus
making it impossible for more than a small proportion of trips
to be made on foot, or even cycle and bus.
24. The location and scale of new developments have
not been the only problem. Many supermarkets, leisure centres
and other facilities, even where they are in or near to the town
centre, are not on the line of the street as buildings were traditionally.
Instead, they are at the back of the plot with large car parks
in front. This means that pedestrians have to cross a monotonous
landscape of parked cars to reach the facility. Even those who
drive to the site often have quite a long walk from the remoter
part of the car park.
25. New housing developments have commonly been constructed
at the edge of towns or villages at a low density which has discouraged
walking to local shops and other facilities even where they exist.
To make matters worse they have usually been developed with convoluted
road layouts, which have been designed to prevent rat-running
through traffic and to create what were in the past considered
secure environments. Such "loops and lollipops" layouts
mean that local facilities, including bus stops cannot easily
be reached on foot. The Commission for Architecture and the Built
Environment (CABE) referred to "the standard cul-de-sac layout
of new housing schemes [which] tends to promote car dependency
and reduce pedestrian movements, while at the same time putting
additional pressure on connector routes and making them less safe