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New thinking on housing and public transport can boost our towns

12 September 2016

Housing should be developed alongside transport infrastructure for economic, social and environmental benefits, say countryside campaigners

A new paper released today by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) argues that high-density development near to high-quality public transport services could boost businesses and jobs, create more well-designed homes and build more diverse, exciting communities - all while reducing pressure on the Green Belt and the wider countryside.

CPRE’s ‘Making the Link’ paper builds on emerging changes to Government policy: the Government’s recent NPPF consultation identified 680 commuter hubs suitable for high density development, for example. The paper argues that attention can also be given to smaller places like market towns, which play a hugely important role in rural communities in delivering much needed connectivity, services, employment and business opportunities.

Situating high-density housing near transport hubs can concentrate development on brownfield sites in need of regeneration and increase connectivity to employment centres. This has the potential to make towns more attractive for residents and business, halt damaging urban sprawl and reduce car use and road congestion.

The paper suggests a number of options to encourage such development, such as reduced business rates for local businesses and the roll-out of planning tools to help identify suitable locations for development.

The paper calls for:

  • Higher-density development based around public transport hubs, planned around local services and waking and cycling.
  • Quality design: high density development needn’t mean tower blocks in market towns. Terraced housing and mansion blocks can provide high density homes and preserve the unique character of towns.
  • Diverse communities: developments should provide a mix of housing types for a mix of backgrounds and income levels.
  • Local services and business: developments should include shops, cafes and offices – providing convenient services for residents and helping local businesses grow. These businesses should benefit from reduced business rates in a similar manner to Enterprise Zones.

‘Making the Link’ is the sixth paper in CPRE’s Housing Foresight series, which aims to provide innovative policy solutions to critical housing issues.


Trinley Walker, policy and research adviser at the Campaign to Protect Rural England and author of ‘Making the Link’, comments:

“To build the homes we need and make our towns attractive for residents and businesses, housing development and transport must go hand in hand.

“Good access to public transport should be an important factor when councils make decisions about where to build houses – yet it often gets side-lined. This means that in many towns the potential for regeneration, quality housing and better connected communities is missed.”




If you would like to talk to author Trinley Walker about the report in more detail then please contact Tom Quinn on 020 7981 2879 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) fights for a better future for the English countryside. We work locally and nationally to protect, shape and enhance a beautiful, thriving countryside for everyone to value and enjoy. Our members are united in their love for England’s landscapes and rural communities, and stand up for the countryside, so it can continue to sustain, enchant and inspire future generations. Founded in 1926, President: Emma Bridgewater, Patron: Her Majesty The Queen.

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