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Transport and Development in the Thames Gateway

A study for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) in 2002-3 looking into the relationship between transport and development in the different areas of the Thames Gateway with major potential. The main argument put forward was that rail based systems (tram/LRT in combination with existing heavy rail) have far more potential to achieve higher density development than bus systems. Investors in property need the certainty that rail based public transport provides. Without that clear commitment to public transport, developers will insist on infrastructure and parking that supports car-based solutions.

Tram/LRT provides high capacity public transport that has to be supported by high levels of passenger demand. This requires high density development and routes that link key origins and destinations. Commitment to tram/LRT therefore leads to development forms that are geared to public rather than private car transport. This means in turn that housing, jobs, shops and facilities are brought together in walkable environments. All this is well understood in many French cities, but the argument has yet to gain traction in the UK. For example, in 1995 plans for major development at the Ebbsfleet Eastern Quarry site (by landowner Blue Circle) envisaged a comprehensive tram system for the Thameside area (see pdf). By 1998 this aspiration had largely vanished. A report by Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick concluded that demand was not sufficient to justify a tram, but did not explore how development could be shaped in order to produce sufficient demand. The same report also argued that public transport needed to be "flexible" to cope with changing development. This was the opposite of what we were putting to ODPM, which was that certainty (in other words, inflexibility) was needed in order to command investor confidence in high density, mixed use development, especially in the Thames Gateway area where ground preparation and other development costs are high.

A summary of the Llewelyn Davies report is available in the pdf to the right.

Date(s)2003
Client(s) Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) for Prime Minister?s Misc22 Committee
Team(s)Tim Pharoah (project manager) with Llewelyn-Davies,

keywords

Thames Gateway, regeneration, transport and land use, land use and transport, integrated transport, sustainable transport, sustainable growth, Ebbsfleet, public transport oriented development, transit oriented development