Planning buses off the streets

A report from the Transport for New Homes group has identified that, in the dramatic house-building boom that’s going on, nobody is thinking about buses.

This report chimed with me. In BCB’s home town of Peterborough, a new development on the edge of the city I drove through could barely accommodate my car, let alone a bus, with cars parked on verges both sides of the road. As the report identified, nor have new developments got any shops or pubs, nor any civic amenity.

In recent weeks while house-hunting, I have seen the same pattern everywhere. Estates of homes are being built everywhere which are not only inaccessible by any bus, but compound the problem by not providing any driveway, much less a garage. Instead, they have ‘allocated parking places’ for one car per household, guaranteeing that the access roads will be double-parked.

I could also rattle on about the fact that the UK has the lowest building standards in Northern Europe – homes which leak energy like a sieve. In the current energy price crisis, which isn’t going away any time soon, this is ridiculous.

Town planning has been getting away with this for far too long. Out-of-town shopping and estates of offices placed miles from homes, and little or no thought for bus routes. We are blindly following the path of the USA, such as roadside ‘strip development’ in which people are forced to drive from one retail unit to another though they are actually next door to each other.

Housing is being planned this way for one reason; greed. Developers are wringing every last £ out of every square metre, with no thought given to how those home owners are going to go shopping, visit friends, visit hospitals or socialise when they can no longer drive cars. It’s no wonder the country is beset with social isolation problems; it’s actually designed into the homes we are building.

It is time the government lived up to its promise to improve bus services by ensuring they are considered with every planning application. This requires rigid planning rules, not theoretical box ticking. No homes should be more than 400 metres from a bus stop, perhaps. There is no reason to build offices miles from homes. There should be a requirement for housing projects to include a corner shop, and green spaces for communities.

Most of the terraced slums built by the Victorians have now been pulled down. If we do nothing to address the problems of the new housing boom, we are destined to create ghettos in which people are prisoners in their own homes, struggling to paty for their heating.

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