‘Public transport should be at the heart of new homes developments’

Planning authorities “need to be in the driving seat” when it comes to putting sustainable transport at the heart of big developments, Lincolnshire County Council’s highways chief has said.

County councillors on Monday supported the adoption of the Lincoln Transport Strategy, which includes a focus on developing sustainable transport, like encouraging people to walk, cycle and use buses instead of driving their cars.

Scrutiny members had concerns over getting partners, including bus companies, engaged with the plans.

However, highways executive Councillor Richard Davies told Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines it was in fact district councils which would need to be convinced.

“The more difficult partners to bring on board will be the local planning authorities,” he said.

“Undeniably, we are seeing a reticence among them to plan and agree new developments that, rather than just wave a flag at public transport and sustainable travel, put it at the heart.

“They’re in the driving seat for some of the big developments we’re seeing in and around Lincoln.”

He said bus companies were “extremely supportive” of the approach taken in the strategy because “frankly it’s commercial sense for them to see more people using buses.”

He blamed route closures on a mix of people not using buses as much as they used to, often caused by or going hand-in-hand with the increased congestion within the city reducing the benefit to residents of taking those modes of transport.

The authority invests nearly £5 million a year in public transport, including measures which give buses higher priority at junctions.

“A lot of things aren’t particularly tangible in that sense,” said Councillor Davies. “But it’s about a culture shift.

“The physical impact is quite easy to do in relative terms, but, the difficulty is going to be that mind shift of getting people out of their cars.

Elsewhere he said “significant investment” in upgrading junctions were also helping get traffic from “where it doesn’t want to be.”

“Our approach moving forward will very much be increasingly looking at different types of transport because we recognise we can’t build our way out of the congestion we’re in,” he said.

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