Planning for Sustainable Travel
The changing economic landscape, and transition from traditional employment sectors, has altered rental and buyer demand in the residential market. As a consequence of these changes, transport is an ever more important demand influencer, with an increasing emphasis on sustainable transport modes.
What is sustainable development?
Sustainable development is usually defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. One of the main threats to sustainable development is “transport congestion[which] has been rising rapidly and is approaching gridlock. This mainly affects urban areas, which are also challenged by problems such as inner city decay, sprawling suburbs, and concentrations of acute poverty and social exclusion.”
Research on climate change indicates that we need to make a considerable change in the way that we live if the most pronounced effects of climate change (extreme weather events, rising sea levels, flooding etc.) are to be prevented. Under this definition, we can assume that excessive reliance on private transport, in the form of the fossil fuelled motor car, is no longer sustainable.
Why developers need to consider transport
A major revolution has taken place in the Irish economy in recent years, with significant net employment losses in sectors such manufacturing and construction and gains in the business services sector. These jobs are primarily located in Dublin City, and to a lesser extent in other cities. For example, consider Google’s and Facebook’s locations in Dublin’s ‘Silicon Dock’, in contrast to previous companies such as Pfizer, who recently closed their packaging plant in Newbridge, Co Kildare and manufacturing company MSD who have announced it is closing its plant in Swords, Co Dublin. As a result, house rental and buyer demand appears strongest in, and in proximity to Dublin – most recent evidence of changes in house purchase prices support this view – See Figure 1, below.
For house buyers and renters, transport connectivity is a key locational consideration, and in urban areas where traffic congestion levels are greatest and car parking limited, the feasibility of walking and cycling, and the availability of bus and rail services are central to the decision making process. The concentration of multinationals in centrally located modern office buildings, often with very limited car parking (arising from local authority development parking standards), implies an increased commuter emphasis on sustainable transport modes. Every commuter needs a place to commute from, and whether this be a rented apartment in the City Centre, or a house in the suburbs, understanding the prospective market for a development is essential.
As a developer, considering existing travel choices and resulting accessibility to key employment centres, and how this might evolve over time is critical to maximising buyer and rental demand, and, as a consequence, house prices. Transport needs to be considered throughout the development cycle, right from the very identification and appraisal of potential site locations, and for more significant developments, through the statutory planning processes and beyond to scheme delivery and occupation. The role of the transport planner is to support the development team, through provision of advice and supporting analysis at each stage in the process.
 Commission of the European Communities, A sustainable Europe for a Better World: A European Union Strategy for a Sustainable Development, 2001