Urban land use and transport are closely inter-linked. The separation of homes, shops and places of work creates the need to move goods and people. Conversely, the development of the transport system influences the location decisions of investors and households. Over recent years we have seen urban developments becoming more dispersed (partly due to better road links), locking a higher level of car dependency into the system. Evidence suggests that only a combination of co-ordinated land-use and transport policies will reverse this trend.
TRANSLAND had two main objectives to:
- identify examples of (transferable) good practice in combined planning of land-use and transport;
- advise on planning practice for the future and recommend further research.
A detailed review of 26 case studies and previous research led to the following conclusions:
- Combined land-use and transport policies are only successful in reducing travel distances and the share of car travel if they make car travel less attractive (more expensive or slower).
- Land-use policies to increase urban density or mixed land-use (e.g. locating homes near factories and services) without accompanying measures to discourage car use have only limited effect.
- Transport policies to make car travel less attractive depend on the start and end points not being excessively dispersed. Co-location of specialist businesses in certain areas and the increase in multiple worker households also set limits on the co-ordination of work places and residences.
- Large dispersed retail and leisure facilities increase the distances travelled by cars and the share of car travel. Land-use policies to prevent the development of such facilities are more effective than land-use policies aimed at promoting high-density mixed-use development.
- Fears that policies to constrain the use of cars in city centres are detrimental to the economic viability of those centres have in no case been confirmed by reality, except where massive out-of-town retail developments have been approved at the same time.
- Transport policies to improve the attractiveness of public transport have in general not led to a major reduction of car travel, but have contributed to further suburbanisation of the population.
Overall, TRANSLAND concluded that transport policies are more direct and efficient than land-use planning controls, in moving towards a sustainable urban transport system. However, land-use policies are essential as an accompanying strategy for creating less car-dependent cities in the long run. Information policies are an additional tool, important for influencing behaviour and increasing social acceptance of other tougher measures.
The institutional possibilities for co-ordinating land use and transport policies at the urban or regional level vary between EU Member States. Ten countries have formal regional planning with binding plans, and these have the highest potential for implementing effective policies and exchanging examples of good practice.
TRANSLAND identified 16 areas for further study, ranging from the modelling of land use/transport interactions, to target setting and the redesign of the planning process.