Britain should develop a new approach to transport planning based around a National Spatial Plan to provide a framework that enables transport plans to be can be developed, tested and continually updated.
Giving the Annual CILT President’s Lecture, Jim Steer FCILT called on decision-makers at national level to take a much more long-term view to address the challenges of population growth, modal shift, changing technology, and how best to ‘cluster’ communities. He posed fundamental questions about what’s needed in the years ahead to address the combined and inter-related challenges of unprecedented demographic growth, marked shifts in the balance of use of the various transport modes and the striking impact of agglomeration economics in London.
He argued this amounts to a "burning deck" need for the UK to develop a National Spatial Plan that would ensure new development, housing and transport schemes and projects are planned, scoped, developed and delivered in a way that meets the direct needs of all stakeholders in private and public sectors as well as the local communities they serve.
What Britain needs, he said, is a planning framework which meets the needs and realities of the 21st century, taking a view over the next 30 to 50 years and the National Spatial Plan would help achieve this. This should include how best to use limited land space, where best to site communities and to ensure sustainability is an inherent factor in determining schemes and new projects.
The National Spatial Plan would ensure decisions were taken in a joined-up rather than the current isolated way. Jim Steer argued that we can’t have efficient project plans if they are not joined up – and that in transport, everything interacts.
He said that the National Spatial Plan would inform and enable transport plans to:
Respond to demographic and travel behaviour change
Engage with developers and regenerators to ensure there is good economic return on capital investment in transport schemes
Ensure projects are well-specified with efficiencies found
Respond better to changing external demands – such as more severe weather extremes
Ensure projects foster a sense of ‘place’ so that people thrive and feel the benefit of them.
He said: "We are past era when planning was seen as the enemy of market growth….We need to regard transport as a system because of its interactions; but we also need to recognise it is part of a wider system – urban, rural, regional and national".
"No longer should good planning be seen as inimical to the strong role that the private sector plays in urban renewal and a growing economy. Businesses need certainty, and clear and accessible plans that the private sector has had a role in formulating come from plans at national, regional and city level."
Jim Steer’s President’s Lecture, entitled "Transport Planning: Back to the Future?", was given in central London to an audience of more than 130 senior transport planners and decision-makers from central government and the private and public sectors traced the evolution of transport planning from its origins in the 1960s.