This report has argued for a change in the way we carry out development in order to unlock the improved sustainable transport solutions that comprise New Urban Mobility. These considerations also anticipate the role that technological change will play in the future of London’s growth, transport provision and urban quality.
We have looked at a range of design interventions that could help contribute to this change now, but we have also acknowledged the impossibility of accurately
predicting all the ways mobility will change in the future and how we can harness these changes for sustainable ends. As such, we have underlined the importance of
ensuring developments are adaptive.
Finally, we have considered some of the systemic barriers to change. These encompass the procedural issues and structural limitations of the planning system, as well as the limiting range of incentives and interests in some models of development and management.
The recommendations that follow are aimed at tackling some of these barriers, focusing on how we can build, plan and finance developments with New Urban Mobility in mind.
Strengthen local political leadership
23 out of 32 boroughs have now declared a climate emergency. These declarations should be matched with practical action.
1. Local authorities should prioritise New Urban Mobility in both strategic planning and development control. This should include making sure parking provision is always compliant with London Plan standards, and where possible, even more ambitious in limiting numbers.
2. Every London borough should designate a strategic development area as a “New Urban Mobility zone”, where they will work with developers to implement New Urban Mobility design principles (highlighted in Chapter 2) and regularly assess progress against a set of KPIs.
3. To encourage boroughs and developers to implement future mobility design principles, the UK government, in partnership with the Mayor of London, should match-fund development receipts to support the development of mobility hubs in new developments. This could be achieved by growing existing funding streams such as the government’s Future Mobility Zones Fund and TfL’s Liveable Neighbourhoods Programme.
Build adaptability into new developments
4. Developers and landowners should take seriously the impact that developments built with sustainable transport in mind can have on “place value.” 38 There is substantial evidence demonstrating that dense, walkable neighbourhoods with low traffic levels and access to amenities, services, public transport and quality green space have a positive effect on both social value and property value. 39 As such, they represent a clear “win-win” opportunity. Some development models may more readily lend themselves to considering the longterm value of a place: for example, council-led developments, housing associations, build-to-rent models and community-led housing schemes all have incentives to consider the long term. However, more conventional development models should also recognise the interrelationship between mobility, place quality and long-term property values.
5. Build out any barriers to adaptability. Where car parking spaces must be provided, they should be built to specifications that will allow them to be converted to alternative uses more easily. For multi-storey or underground car parks, the materials used should allow future conversion to either residential, commercial or leisure use, and dimensions should be sufficient for appropriate ceiling heights. Similarly, car parking should be provided off-site where possible, to encourage the use of alternative transport and enable conversion in the longer term as technology, policy and preferences change.
6. Local authorities should encourage more adaptable developments by:
- Fast-tracking sustainable adaptations. In exchange for closer monitoring, permission could be granted more quickly for sustainable adaptations. In the same way that planning policies can encourage more and quicker delivery of affordable housing by fast-tracking applications which meet a particular threshold, adaptation could also be encouraged by offering “permission in principle” to changes which meet sustainable mobility-related aims.
- Accommodating flexibility in discretionary standards. Highways standards should not be a barrier to designing a future with a reduction in car use in mind. At a minimum, all local authorities must ensure that their technical standards are based on the most recent guidance, and should not exclude narrower carriageways, alternative materials, servicing underneath the highways or other design specifications that allow for modal shift and more sustainable transport choices. Generally, standards should anticipate change, rather than rely on historic surveys.
Unbundle parking spaces from homes
Future-proofing off-street residential parking would enable conversion to other uses as and when it is no longer needed as a residents’ car park. But this becomes difficult if residents have bought individual parking spaces.
7. To allow for re-programming of residential car parks into other uses, building and estate managers should offer renewable parking and charging membership to residents of new developments, rather than ownership of individual spaces. This would also improve flexibility for residents – by making parking something they only pay for at the stages of life when they believe they need a car.
Improve post-completion evaluation
8. London boroughs, in partnership with Transport for London, should evaluate new developments over time. This should include an assessment of whether New Urban Mobility principles have been adopted – to inform future policy – as well as collection of data on how developments are being used, and the recommendation of adaptations where technology or residents’ habits have changed.