Media contact: Jen Pufky
Telephone: 07825 617 927
Embargoed until: 00:01 Tuesday 24 October, 2017
COUNCILS SAY WALKING INFRASTRUCTURE & GREEN SPACE NOT A PRIORITY FOR DEVELOPERS IN RUSH TO BUILD NEW HOMES
A new report out today from the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) and the Ramblers has found that nine out of ten councils say access to walking infrastructure is a priority for new developments built in their areas, but only half feel that developers share this view.
“Building Connected Communities” surveyed 118 officers from local authorities across England and found that eighty nine per cent say walking access is a key consideration for their council and ninety four per cent have a Local Plan in place that encourages walking and active travel. However, only forty nine per cent felt developers share the same priorities.
In the North West this was more pronounced, as fifty per cent of respondents felt this was not a priority for developers, while forty per cent in the North East and twenty five per cent in the South West felt the same.
While housing has shot up the political agenda in the last year with the Government’s call for a rebirth of house building, the report finds four out of ten councils say they have experienced difficulty meeting their walking and active travel priorities when delivering large developments. And, 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 ten councils surveyed felt viability assessments make it difficult to meet priorities, while seven out of ten felt influencing developers was a challenge. The lack of resources in planning departments was also highlighted as a barrier by half of respondents.
The report recommends that councils should have strong policies in place to require connectivity in new developments and improve their strategic engagement with developers moving forward. Case studies, in Gateshead, Tamworth and Preston, illustrate some of the ways that councils could seek to make progress in improving walking connectivity through new developments.
A embargoed copy of the report and recommendations is attached.
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive, LGiU, said:
“With all the emphasis on the Government’s plans to deliver a rebirth of house building, it is increasingly important that we have a conversation about the places that we build not just the numbers of homes we deliver.
We need to ensure good connectivity, not just a large quantity of buildings. We need places for people to live healthy, happy, active lives. This means they need to be well connected, with good access to walking, cycling and green infrastructure.
It is clear from the research that we carried out with the Ramblers that local authorities want to build places that encourage walking and active travel. However, developers do not always share these priorities in the rush to build new homes, and many councils feel the mismatch is a challenge in achieving their goals.”
Adrian Harvey, Policy and Advocacy Manager at the Ramblers, said:
“We know that walkable places are better places, they are healthier, greener and much more pleasant to live and work in. This research is encouraging – it highlights the fact that local authorities are working hard to make sure that new commercial and residential developments deliver those benefits, enhancing people’s connectivity with the area they live in and giving more back to communities.
In many cases they are achieving it, but there’s still much more we could do. The Ramblers wants to work with councils and developers to help remove some of the barriers, so that we can make walking the easy choice for everyone, everywhere.”
For “Building Connected Communities” the LGiU and Ramblers surveyed 118 officers from local authorities across England to gain an understanding of development plans as they relate to walking connectivity and access to green space. We followed up the survey with a series of in- depth, semi-structured interviews with officers in different parts of the country. Three case studies, in Gateshead, Tamworth and Preston, illustrate some of the ways that councils could seek to make progress in improving walking connectivity through new developments.
The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) is a think tank and membership body with over 200 councils and other organisations subscribing to our networks. We work to strengthen local democracy and put citizens in control of their own lives, communities and local services. For more information, visit lgiu.org.
For more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (07825 617 927)
The Ramblers helps everyone, everywhere, enjoy walking and protects the places we all love to walk. We are the only charity dedicated to looking after paths and green spaces, leading walks, opening up new places to explore and encouraging everyone to get outside and discover how walking boosts your health and your happiness. www.ramblers.org.uk.