Leading the Way
2020-08-28

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RTPI appoints Vectos in research consortium for net-zero transport project

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has appointed three organisations to jointly deliver an exciting new research project to demonstrate how spatial planning can deliver net-zero transport.

LDA Design, City Science and Vectos will consider a variety of potential solutions such as increasing density, restricting car use, promoting mixed development and mobility hubs, and creating integrated active and public transport networks.

The research will support the Department for Transport’s emerging decarbonisation plan by clarifying where planning can reduce transport emissions in different types of place. It will also inform the Institute’s response to the new Planning White Paper.

RTPI policy and networks manager, James Harris, said: “This is a critical moment for planning. In December, the Committee on Climate Change will be establishing the sixth carbon budget for the UK, setting the path to achieving net zero carbon by 2050. However, transport emissions remain stubbornly high. Changes to planning policy and patterns of infrastructure investment have so far failed to tackle this problem.

“Over the coming decade we will need bold and ambitious spatial plans to reshape the built environment, helping to reduce the need to travel, and maximising the use of walking, cycling, public transport and shared mobility. As part of our campaign to Plan The World We Need, we are excited to work with LDA Design, City Science and Vectos to imagine what places might look like as we transition to a zero carbon future”

To carry out the analysis, LDA will work with City Science, an independent firm of software developers, data scientists and infrastructure experts – drawing on their award-winning modelling and decarbonisation tools. Vectos will contribute by drawing from their extensive research, sustainable transport planning and place-making activities across the UK and Europe.

The project will create fictional areas which represent typical places across England, from rural counties to city-regions. By using data and innovative decarbonisation software, the team will model the carbon impact of different land uses, activities and transport modes, and consider how barriers to decarbonisation can be overcome.

The team will consider the potential impact of Covid-19, and the role of planning policy and culture in ensuring that decarbonisation delivers wider benefits to health and wellbeing, inclusion and strategic green infrastructure.

Frazer Osment, Chairman of LDA Design, said: “Our team is hugely excited to be chosen to carry out this research for the RTPI. There is a need for urgent action to decarbonise transport. Working with City Science and Vectos we are seeking to demonstrate the step change in carbon emissions and place outcomes that can be achieved through intelligent spatial planning.”

The project will culminate in the production of ambitious vision plans for each of the fictional areas. These will illustrate how combinations of solutions can achieve a zero carbon transport network at different scales. 

The research is supported by the Transport Planning Society (TPS) and Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT). To find out more about the project, visit rtpi.org.uk/zerocarbontransport