HRN1 Comments: More Needs Doing to Decrease Car Dependency

The Town Council Planning and Licensing Committee tonight made comments on the soundness of the overview plans for HRN1, the major site north of Houghton Regis which is expected to deliver up to 5150 homes of the 7000 total new homes Central Bedfordshire want to build around the north of the town.

I made several comments around the need to encourage less dependency on the motor car. In the many documents for review several mentions are made of walking routes and cycling routes, which is all well and good, but if we are to seriously encourage less use of the motor car then more needs to be done. Yes, the busway will help to get people into Dunstable and Luton for shopping, and possibly to railway stations, but even more can be done.

I asked that the developers look to encourage a car pool scheme especially around higher density areas, and also at provision of a shuttle bus service to Leagrave railway station. The former Kodak building in Hemel Hempstead town centre operates such a scheme, and if the HRN1 team are impressed, then such offerings would surely be useful selling points, as well as helpful to the environment.

More a critique of the overall development planning for the whole of Central Beds, I also asked for consideration of a park and ride scheme. The location at the to-be constructed M1 junction 11a, ought to be a suitable location for a park and ride scheme that would encourage local people to use long distance coaches rather than cars, for making those sort of journeys. Equally, incoming people might also be disuaded from clogging up the whole Luton- Dunstable- Houghton Regis conurbation when they visit for social, retail, and recreation purposes if they had somewhere to park before using good local public transport.

I requested that like for like alternative roads were provided around shopping centres so that if road works became essential, traffic could still negociate the area without making big detours.

Concern was raised by others about the lack of inclusion of land for a cemetery to which I added, land for place or places of worship had also been overlooked. The cash generating schemes like a car showroom and a supermarket had been specifically mentioned at this early stage. Isn't it telling that a loss making thing like a chapel or a cemetery, is too far down the developers thinking to be included at this stage?

Whilst other councillors made other comments or otherwise supported my suggestions, it would be improper by the rules of the council, for me to mention them here. The collected comments will be available from the Town Council when approved in due course.

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Edit/ letter to CBC:
 I write to raise my concerns to the planning application CBC/12/03613 .

In respect of Floorspace and Landuse there is a lack of acknowledgement of the need to provide space for places of worship and places for the respectful consideration of the deceased. With the proposed number of new dwellings should be a calculation of landspace required to meet the minimum number of deaths occurring, I would suggest, in at least a 100 year period. In respect of accommodating places of worship, I would suggest that land multiplied by two, based on such places as the total floorspace of the Baptist Church in Hammersmith Gardens, and the Meeting House in Lowry Drive, in Houghton Regis is allocated.

I have concerns about the Illustrative Masterplan. The primary vehicular road through Zones H, G, F and E is depicted with homes facing onto the primary route. As this is just depicted as a single road, should roadworks be ever required after scheme completion, traffic would need an alternative route on a like for like road, and therefore could give rise to lengthy detours. A trivial, but nevertheless a potential problem when houses front a primary road, might be that weekly congestion occurs when dustbin lorries collect, witnessed weekly in Poynters Road, Dunstable.

The scheme makes mention of walking and cycling routes; a scenario mentioned in an online study for HRN1 puts the case for someone cycling around the entire area of Houghton Regis, including going as far as cycling through Houghton Hall Park. The case is flawed as cycling is not permitted in that Park. Whilst emphasis on cycling is welcomed, for most new home occupiers there will continue to be dependency on a motor vehicle for transport. The scheme encourages routes for buses, but I feel that even more could be done to discourage dependency on motor cars.

Long distance coach travel out of the area could be encouraged by the provision of a long distance coach stop with associated local long term parking. That same long term parking could also act as a place for people coming into the Luton / Dunstable / Houghton Regis conurbation to park up and transfer onto local public transport for shopping, business and cultural visits, thereby freeing up congested roads in those towns.

Where there is a high concentration of dwellings within the scheme area, a car-pool sharing scheme might be offered to make a vehicle available to residents when required. At the same time, an associated scheme might offer a shuttle bus service to the local railway station at Leagrave, for those residents reducing the need for additional parking provision at the railway station. Such a combination of schemes might gain favour in terms of reducing the overall normal requirement for parking spaces per dwelling unit. Such a scheme would help promote community bonding and ought to be a useful additional marketing strategy for such a development. For an example look at, the KD Tower, in Hemel Hempstead.

The bus transportation companies should be encouraged to run a service direct from Houghton Regis to Leagrave Station.

Tags: hrn1 development car


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