Local authorities should ensure they have strong policies in place requiring active travel connectivity in new developments to address a mismatch between their goals and those of developers, a think tank has said.
A new development near Trowbridge, Wiltshire
LGiU said its research shows that many councils want to build places that encourage walking and active travel, but developers do not always share these priorities.
In partnership with the Ramblers, LGiU surveyed and interviewed council officers from across England.
Nine out of 10 councils said access to walking infrastructure is a priority, but only half felt that developers agreed with them; over a third said walking or access to green space is not a priority for developers.
Two fifths of councils said they have experienced difficulty meeting their walking and active travel priorities when delivering large developments. While most developments over the past five years were in line with targets, around one in ten were seen as not in line with health and wellbeing strategies.
Eight out of 10 councils said viability assessments make it difficult to meet priorities, while seven out of ten said influencing developers was a challenge.
The lack of resources in planning departments was also highlighted as a barrier by half of respondents.
Almost all (96%) of respondents said their council had refused developments in the past based on poor quality of design, though considerably fewer had refused developments due to lack of walking connectivity.
The report says councils:
- should ensure they have strong policies in place to require connectivity in new developments
- need to have greater confidence and use the tools at their disposal to ensure their priorities are met
- should improve their strategic engagement with developers. Developer forums, workshops and online consultations are some of the possible approaches
- should build links across the council