Planning changes ‘risk huge rush-hour tailbacks’

Government changes to the planning system could result in “massive peak-time tailbacks on the roads”, says the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

The changes could see the scrapping of controls on where office development can be sited.

Such proposals could lead to increased congestion due to new large business parks springing up in out-of-town locations, the CBT fears.

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CBT-commissioned research showed that one additional business park next to each suitable junction of the M1 would increase traffic levels by 16 per cent (from 3.6 minutes per 10 miles to 6.4 minutes) and was likely to result in almost £250m of congestion costs.

The research examined the effect of building 34 new 100-acre business parks along a 175-mile stretch of the M1 between junction 8 near St Albans in Hertfordshire and junction 47 near Leeds.

CBT chief executive Stephen Joseph said: “Far from helping economic growth, our research shows that the draft planning framework could actually end up damaging the economy through increased congestion as new office developments move out of town centres and spring up next to motorways and other big roads.

“No-one wants to be stuck in bank holiday-style traffic jams twice a day just to do a day’s work.

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“We need to encourage new development, but not at any price and the expense of delays and congestion on transport networks needs to be fully considered when planning new developments.”

Commenting on the research, a Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “The exaggerated hypothesis put forward by this group completely overlooks the reality of the reforms being proposed.

“The National Planning Policy Framework maintains strict protections and rules and makes clear that only sustainable development will be allowed.

“The transport policies in the National Planning Policy Framework emphasise the need to minimise environmental impacts generated from development related travel.”