Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by Derek Palmer, Steer Davies Gleave (TAB 05)

  This submission is concerned primarily with transport issues raised by the development of tall buildings. The Sub-Committee brief does not define a "tall building". For this submission a definition is not important since the transport issues raised are common to all developments, but will be greater with larger/ taller developments.

  1.  The primary uses of tall buildings are either as offices or residential units. As a result the major transport impact often arises during peak commuting times.

  2.  By their very nature tall buildings generate substantial numbers of travellers, including employees, residents, visitors etc. Considerable movement is generated in the surrounding area, much of it at times when the existing transport infrastructure is congested or very near to being congested.

  3.  Most tall buildings will be located in city/town centres to which access may be difficult. The construction of new tall buildings will therefore place additional pressure on already congested and overcrowded transport services, both highways and railways.

  4.  The location of tall buildings, whether clustered or dotted, will have different impacts on transport. Clustered tall buildings should only be permitted near major transport termini where there is sufficient capacity to accommodate additional passenger flows. Scattered tall buildings have a lesser transport impact but that can still be significant upon the local community. In the USA tall buildings are often isolated from public transport termini. This should be resisted in the UK.

  5.  Althought the development of tall buildings in town and city centres is likely to be policy compliant with PPG13: Transport, in order to accommodate their impact each proposal must be subject to a detailed transport assessment. The transport assessment must be undertaken in accordance with PPG13 and based on the forthcoming guidance, Transport Assessments: A Good Practice Guide, being published by the DTLR.

  6.  Transport assessment of tall buildings must take the maximum opportunity to ensure easy access by non-car modes of travel—walking, cycling and public transport.

  7.  Where public transport services are inadequate for the expected impact of the tall building, the developer/occupier should be expected to fund new infrastructure and services in order to minimise the adverse traffic impact. In some cases the cost of such provision will be very high. Payment should be made through a Planning Obligation or Condition as part of the planning agreement. A Travel Plan should be required to encourage changes in travel behaviour to a tall building. This is recommended in the forthcoming DTLR document, Transport Assessments: A Good Practice Guide, and should also be the subject of a Planning Agreement. The DTLR will be publishing new guidance on Using Planning to Secure Travel Plans in spring 2002.

  8.  Where the expected transport impact of a proposal for a tall building is considered unacceptable, for example due to the environmental or safety implications, then the proposal should be altered to include mixed-use facilities to reduce the transport impact. Alternatively the scale of the building should be reduced so that the transport impact is in line with existing and planned transport capacity. Otherwise, if the likely transport impact is expected to be unacceptable, planning approval should be denied.

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