Transport Knowledge Hub Midlands event on sustainable transport and housing

The Transport Knowledge (TKH) hosted the second of a series of events across the UK on the importance of sustainable transport in the development of new housing. This week, we were in the Midlands to hear about the opportunities and barriers for a more integrated approach between housing and transport. It was kindly hosted by KPMG in their Birmingham offices.

A keynote speech was delivered by Lilian Greenwood MP, the Chair of the Transport Select Committee, who praised the KPMG initial findings as a robust contribution to the important question of how sustainable transport can unlock the benefits of new housing. Lilian updated guests on the work carried out by the Transport Select Committee, which focused on the key issues that people encounter in the transport systems.

Lilian made it clear that it was essential that investments are made in the right places in order to enable a change in behaviour and encourage active travel. Lilian explained that we need more integrated thinking between housing and transport, and that events like this are vital to building the evidence base and help contribute new ideas to unlock the benefits of new housing.

The event included a panel discussion with transport and housing experts across the Midlands. Common themes were clearly identified as the discussion progressed, including some of the key barriers preventing a more integrated approach to housing and transport.

Laura Shoaf, Managing Director of Transport for the West Midlands, highlighted the advantages that long-term funding has given the West Midlands Combined Authority, which included political and financial stability. Crucially, long-term funding can allow for a more strategic and integrated approach to transport and housing.

Another key theme the event identified, was the need for planning system reform. Jack Kelly, External Affairs Director at Midland Heart, explained that it was essential that all of their customers had easy access to sustainable transport modes, but that the planning system does not always allow developments to be in places with available transport networks. The need for planning reform was a common theme of the event, and a discussion took place on whether green belt policy needs to be changed so that houses can be built in areas which are well connected to transport infrastructure.

Tom Stables, Managing Director of National Express explained that bus travel is an essential part of a more sustainable future, and that routing should be part of the development process from the very beginning. Simon Statham, Head of Technical Programmes at Midlands Connect, raised the important issue of how the government must reward ambition showed by local authorities for stepping up to the plate and delivering sustainable growth.

The event provided a platform to identify a number of barriers, and the clear conclusion was that a more joined up approach to housing and transport across the board was absolutely vital if the UK are going to deliver the 300,000 new homes needed in a sustainable way.

TKH’s role in bringing together transport providers, councillors and housing experts is designed to make a timely contribution to the vital debate about housing and sustainable transport.

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With LEPs now responsible for significant amounts of local transport funding decisions, the Transport Knowledge Hub is a timely new tool for local decision makers. At the LEP Network, we know the huge value of giving LEPs a forum to share best practice and engage with other stakeholders, so we are delighted to be involved with a transport-specific project which supports spending decisions that make a genuine difference.

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