Sustainable Transport: The key to unlocking the benefits of new housing

Transport Knowledge Hub logo Published on: 23rd May 2018 by Claire Haigh.

I’m delighted to announce today the publication of new analysis by KPMG which articulates the role of sustainable transport in unlocking the benefits of new housing.

Download PDF

The UK’s infrastructure is under huge strain and has not kept pace with population growth.  Nowhere is this more acutely felt than in the housing sector.  We need to build at least 300,000 new homes every year for foreseeable future to abate the UK’s housing crisis.

But in the rush to build the new homes so urgently needed, it is vital that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.  The development of these new homes will place a significant burden on transport infrastructure and services.

Building new houses is more than just a numbers game

This new analysis by KPMG demonstrates that the location of developments and their interaction with transport networks have a significant influence on outcomes.  It highlights the wider economic benefits from connecting workers to job and businesses to customers, and the risk that traffic congestion can seriously hinder the realisation of these benefits.

New developments in urban centres can stimulate 50% more economic growth than similar developments located at the fringe, but these benefits will be diluted unless more public transport options are provided.  Investment is not just needed to unlock specific sites for development, but also to improve performance of wider transport networks and cater for additional demand.  Where possible the location of new housing should be sited to reduce car dependency and support the viability of sustainable transport.

The analysis concludes that we need to think carefully about how we appraise the costs and benefits of public sector intervention in the housing market.  It highlights the need for government appraisal methodologies to take into account wider impacts, so that investments deliver the right outcomes for society as a whole.

We need more investment in sustainable transport.

Investment in sustainable transport must be a priority for the £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund.

We urge MHCLG to change the way it measures ‘value for money’ from different infrastructure schemes.  Funds are currently allocated on the basis of Land Value Uplift without paying heed to the vitally important wider economic, social and environmental impacts.

Not only will sustainable transport investments ensure that the wider benefits of new housing are realized, but such investments can be transformative for local communities.

Investment in bus networks for example demonstrates proven benefits.  Previous research by KPMG and the University of Leeds shows that a 10% improvement in bus service connectivity is associated with a 3.6% reduction in social deprivation.  Investment in local bus infrastructure can deliver excellent returns, £8 wider economic benefit for every £1 invested.

About the Author

This post was written by Claire Haigh. Founder & CEO of Greener Vision & Executive Director of the Transport Knowledge Hub. Claire was previously CEO of Greener Transport Solutions (2021-2022) and CEO of Greener Journeys (2009-2020).