Will post-Covid planning change traffic in town centres?

Even before the pandemic, local authority planners were looking at ways to manage traffic in towns and cities. An environmentally-aware push towards more public transport, walking and cycling, alongside a change in the way we use town centres means that authorities, developers and traffic planners need to be creative when it comes to how our towns may look in the future.

Attracting people to town

Of course, the main purpose of all of this planning is to attract people into towns and cities – both locals and visitors or tourists. Whilst traditional shopping may not be the draw it has been in the past, there are plenty of other reasons for people to take trips to the town – these include food and drink outlets, cafes, cinemas, theatres and live venues and events and entertainment.

How these people will get to town is part of the planning process. Traditionally in the UK, many people drive into towns, so there are often issues to look at in terms of congestion, traffic management, parking and how the road network is shared between general traffic, public transport, cyclists and pedestrians.

The Covid affect

Before Covid was an issue, many local authorities were having great success moving people onto the public transport network. Varies ways of discouraging cars from coming into towns were being trialled, many with good results. However, Covid has changed the way that people think about travelling on buses in particular, where it is harder to maintain social distancing and to clean seats between travellers or journeys.

So now planners have a new problem – how to attract people into town in order to boost economies whilst also understanding and meeting the needs of people who may rather drive into town than use shared transport.

Parking and traffic surveys

In report in mid 2020, national estate agency, Savills published an article on post-Covid planning for town centres. It suggests:

“Taking a pragmatic approach to the requirement for car parking at town centre developments to reduce significantly requirements in order to both acknowledge the accessibility of such locations, existing reduction in private car ownership and the policy requirements to transition towards a low carbon future.”

With an increasing range of requirements from local authorities and national governments for sustainable developments, including access to public transport and reduced road traffic, there is likely to be a demand from developers for up-to-date data on road usage and parking requirements to encourage people to use their town centres more often whilst remaining safe and healthy.

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