New homes should be no further than 10 minutes from shops, says charity

New homes planned to be built further than 10 minutes away from shops should be banned if the UK is to meet its net zero targets, says an environmental charity.

Activists at charity Sustrans, which campaigns for easier walking, wheeling and cycling routes, is calling for the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to refuse planning permission for developments which promote driving over sustainable travel.

It says that transport and land use planning systems should be more joined up, so primary schools, bus stops and GP surgeries are within 800 metres or a 20-minute walking trip of new homes.

people walking on street during daytime

Rachel Toms, Director of Urbanism at Sustrans, said: ‘The planning system is part of the supply chain of carbon emissions, locking many people into car dependence.

‘Currently there is no legal duty for the planning system to deliver on Net Zero targets or healthy, inclusive environments. For the UK to meet its legally binding Net Zero targets – and to improve the health of the nation and level up communities – the planning system has to make it ultra-convenient for people in new developments to walk, wheel, cycle and use public transport.

‘This is also what people want, as research shows 66% of residents support low-traffic neighbourhoods.’

The organisation is calling for more investment into walking and cycling routes, a ban on pavement parking and a redesign of streets to make them better pedestrianised.

Brining in measures like this could prevent 24,567 people from developing long-term health conditions from air pollution, could generate £6.5bn within communities and save 440,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

Sustrans conducted a report examining walking and cycling habits across the UK and Ireland, discovering that 70% of residents think fewer cars parked on the pavement would help them to walk or wheel more.

Additionally, currently only 56% of disabled people feel welcome when wheeling through their neighbourhoods.

When it came to local councillors, nearly two thirds of council planning officers said a lack of robust planning guidance or regulation prevented them from ensuring amenities were in walking, wheeling or cycling distance.

One in five also said they rarely rejected sites available for new housing, regardless of how close they are to facilities.

In related news, a report by think tank Centre for London has shown that although low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) are seen as divisive, more Londoners support rather than oppose them.

Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino


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