URBAN SPRAWL NEWS:
Car dependency: or, Where is the sustainable transport?
Wonderful news from Cranbrook today:
Which is all part of the District Council’s ‘vision for green growth’:
However, it transpires that much of this notion of ‘green/clean growth’ is a bit of an oxymoron…
Here’s a very critical eye from the excellent investigative journal The Exeter Observer, in its latest newsletter:
NOT SUCH AN HONOURABLE MENTION for Cranbrook in a recent Transport for New Homes report examining new housing developments across England to find out whether they are built around sustainable transport or car dependency.
It found that the walkability that was supposed to be at the core of Cranbrook’s claimed sustainability has not come to fruition and residents have no option other than to use a car to access many amenities.
Despite Devon County Council, the local transport authority and bus services commissioner, driving the development forward, researchers found a road that was too narrow for buses to reach a new bus stop. They also found that the much-vaunted railway station, which is more than 550 metres from the nearest housing, is not connected to the main development by bus.
Transport for New Homes classifies Cranbrook as a “cowpat” development: new housing dropped on fields, built separately from the existing urban area to which it is not connected by continuous streets.
HAS THE COUNTY COUNCIL LEARNED ITS LESSON? Judging by the “ample space” for greenfield business park and housing development promoted in the “Clean Growth Vision for the West of East Devon” it commissioned from City Science Corporation (an Exeter City Futures sister company) for submission to the East Devon Local Plan consultation, it seems not.
Worryingly, Devon Council Council says the document “provides the next level of detail beneath the Devon Carbon Plan” and expects it to “inspire other areas to create similar plans”. Get your complimentary Kool-Aid here then consider what this sort of thinking would mean for the new Exeter Local Plan.
MEANWHILE, IN OTHER URBAN SPRAWL NEWS a development of up to 80 residential dwellings on a ten acre greenfield site alongside Exwick Lane has been given the go ahead at appeal. The city council refused the development in May last year on the grounds it would have a harmful visual impact on the Redhills ridgeline.
The planning inspector rejected the council’s decision, concluding that the development would comply with the council’s planning policies. He said his judgement was not affected by the argument that it might provide a precedent for ridgeline development in other parts of Exeter.
This did not deter the council leader, Phil Bialyk, from insisting that “Exeter protects the vital green ridge surrounding the city” in his budget speech on Tuesday.
Things don’t look too promising for the western part of East Devon, then.
Years since its foundation, Cranbrook still has very few facilities, let alone a centre – which encourages residents to drive to where they can actually find them:
The District Council’s draft local plan is looking to build more new towns – but will they be modelled on Cranbrook?
And what other lessons have been learnt?
The problem is that if you drop housing estates in green fields a long way from public transport (aka “cowpat” development), that doesn’t really sound like ‘clean’ or ‘green’ growth:
Perhaps, instead, the new town is modelled on its namesake in British Columbia, “an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise”: