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A new report released today by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) highlights how new housing developments will force residents to rely on cars over public transport, particularly in areas outside of London.

In its third Location of Development report, the RTPI examines the disconnect between major housing sites and key amenities, and the challenge the government is facing as it tries to level up the country.

Research conducted by the RTPI using data provided by the National Audit Office (NAO) and LandTech shows recent planning permissions for new major residential housing in England could push travel time to large employment centres, secondary schools and hospital trusts in areas outside of London to up to an hour, opposed to roughly half that time in the capital.

In the East and South West of England, for example, the average public transport journey time to a large employment centre would take 56.8 minutes compared to just 23.7 minutes in London.

There is considerable concern over the knock-on effect this will have on the environment. When comparing that travel time between public transport and cars, data showed that the same journey would take 15 minutes in London, 33.6 minutes in the East of England and 36.8 minutes in the South West. An increased reliance on carbon-emitting road vehicles would undermine the government’s attempts to reach net zero and cut carbon emissions as the country looks to tackle the climate crisis.

Sam Spencer, Policy and Data Analyst at the RTPI, said: “Much has been said about building greener homes and even the environmental impact of new construction projects.

“However, our new analysis shows that the location of developments in relation to key amenities is a factor that is often overlooked. This is particularly an issue in the regions outside of London where long travel times by public transport mean it is far more convenient to travel by car.

“In order to build greener communities and to deliver on the government’s levelling up agenda, the government should strongly support developments that promote easy access by methods other than car travel.”

Jonny Britton, Founder of LandTech, said: "One of the factors clearly highlighted by the findings of the report is the need not just to build more homes, but to build the right homes, in the right places, with the infrastructure and support needed to create thriving and sustainable communities.

“Analysing a broader set of data that looks beyond the immediate confines of a specific development site, particularly sustainable access to infrastructure, is crucial to shifting the way we think about development to focus more on placemaking and the bigger picture.

“Given the rate of new development that the Government is hoping to achieve in coming years and the ambitious sustainability targets in the levelling up agenda, the need to ensure we are creating greener communities has never been more urgent."

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