Report shows only half of new homes being built near train stations

The government’s new planning framework must focus on more transport-oriented housing developments as a report shows that only half of housing in the 12 fast growing cities in England is built within 2km of train stations.

Findings released by The Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI) has found 51% of new housing between 2015 and 2017 was granted permission over 2km from railway stations. The Location of Development study analyses the location of permissions for more than 220,000 new homes in the 12 fastest growing city regions in England between 2012 and 2017. These include Brighton, Cambridge, Leeds, Nottingham, Oxford and Newcastle.

The study is divided into two ‘rounds’ – 2012 to 2015 and 2015 to 2017, which allows comparison on how spatial issues are changing since the NPPF came into force in 2012. It finds that 51% of new housing between 2015 and 2017 has been permitted over 2km from railway stations. This compares with 53% in the same study conducted for the period 2012 – 2015.

The institute has proposed several amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to ensure that national planning policy supports housing delivery whilst also tackling critical issues of congestion air pollution and negative impacts of car dependency on both individual health and wider economically sustainable place-making.

Victoria Hills, chief executive of RTPI, said: “The NPPF gives us the opportunity to ensure that planners have a sound policy framework which encourages transport orientated development. The funding and delivery of infrastructure should be targeted to maximise potential for sustainable development close to train stations and public transport hubs. Our research on where housing development is actually being permitted shows that current policies do not go far enough to underpin the need to deliver housing in the most sustainable places. We call on Government to tighten up this aspect of the NPPF.”

Meanwhile, Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh has said that within a ten-minute walk of London’s train stations, there is enough Green Belt land for over one million new homes. In her response to the NPPF, McDonagh is calling for a presumption in favour of housebuilding on Green Belt land within 1km (roughly a 10-minute walk) of a tube or train station.

The MP for Mitcham and Morden and lead signatory on the submission to the NPPF, said: “It’s time to grasp the nettle and to stop promising new homes without the means of providing them. Would we rather have homes that our young people can afford to buy or are we happy for scrappy plots of ungreen land to remain wrongly designated as Green Belt just because of the potential furore that de-designation may cause? I believe that this is a fight worth having. There are 128,000 children in England living in temporary accommodation, desperate for a place to call home. In the hearts of our towns and cities and close to public transport, scrubland, rubbish tips and car washes are inappropriately designated as Green Belt land. It’s time to burst the myth that all Green Belt is green and use it for the homes our children so desperately need.”

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