“Going Dutch…” report and follow-up event
On 1 May, GMCC hosted a talk by Transport Consultant Richard Armitage on new housing developments in The Netherlands that encourage healthier travel options. The talk was well attended by a range of influential professionals from health, planning and transport.
Richard demonstrated the exemplary cycle infrastructure in Houten, a town that has been developed to prioritise local transport. We saw that cycle parking is plentiful around transport nodes such as train stations. Video of cyclists using wide, separate cycle paths through the town showed that they have priority over motor vehicles at intersections. Cars are not excluded from the residential neighbourhoods, rather they have been planned for and kept in their place, in contrast to much UK development practice.
Richard then discussed development practice in Vathorst where private and public sectors are collaborating to create affordable, desirable, cycle-friendly neighbourhoods. The meeting heard how the project had been managed to ensure that various parties were working to their strengths; allowing the public sector to do what it is good at and the private sector likewise.
We also saw innovations such as green roofs, self-commissioned homes, flexible public buildings and district heating grids.
Since the UK government published the National Planning Policy Framework, which makes planners consider sustainable development, there is nothing to stop a local authority from having continuous cycle routes to local destinations within new developments, Richard said.
The information-packed presentation allowed a short period for discussion among the delegates. The quality of the subsequent questions was high and there were many more comments and ideas from the floor that could have been shared if there had been more time. As a result, the meeting agreed to reconvene for a follow-up event. That date is now confirmed as 29 May 2012. The venue will be the same as before (Friends Meeting House, Manchester) and the discussion will start at 7pm prompt with an hour from 6pm to 7pm for informal networking. It will be designed to allow the maximum participation by delegates, guided by Richard Armitage’s hands-on knowledge of how to achieve change in the field of sustainable transport. People who couldn’t attend the first event may wish to read the reports below or arrive early on the 29th to receive a recap of the initial presentation.
Event organiser Jonathan from GMCC says: “The meeting was rich in detail and we could tell from their questions and subsequent emails that delegates were inspired by what they heard. The current economic climate means more people will be encouraged to cycle for transport, and recent changes in planning legislation are opening the door for the kind of change we have all been wanting. We look forward to seeing all of the delegates at the follow up event so that we can take the next steps towards a future of active travel and sustainable living.”
Download the SUNN Dutch Study Tour Report (1MB PDF)
Visit the JRF SUNN webpage for more information and reports.