Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 235 - 239)




  235. Can I welcome you to the final session of our inquiry into Walking in Towns and Cities and ask you to identify yourselves for the record please?

  (Mr Tallentire) My name is Alan Tallentire. I am the Chairman of the Association of Town Centre Management.
  (Mr Balch) I am Chris Balch, and I am a Director of DTZ PIEDA Consulting who have been doing work for the Association.

  236. Do you want to say anything by way of introduction or are you happy for us to go straight to questions?
  (Mr Tallentire) Perhaps I could make two points very quickly. Much of what we will be saying today is based on three publications that we have been involved in over the last five years. The first one, Managing Urban Spaces in Town Centres, we commissioned some five years ago and was conducted by Chestertons, in association with DETR, Scottish Enterprise, Marks & Spencer and Boots the Chemist. The next one, which we have commissioned from Chris Balch of DTZ, in Routes to Success which is dealing with the influence of accessibility on the competitiveness of town centres. That is really up to date, it is due out in April, so much of the research evidence is very current. Finally, in conjunction with the Institution of Highways and Transportation, we are conducting research on People friendly Town Centres, Guidelines for Planning, Design and Management. Those are the three sources of evidence for much of what we are saying today.

Mr Donaldson

  237. You say that walking is a prime factor in the urban renaissance. Why?
  (Mr Balch) I think that by conventional wisdom the amount of pedestrian footfall that exists, particularly within commercial areas and town centres, is a measure of the vitality of that centre as a commercial area. Therefore it has very strong economic functions. One also has to put alongside that the role that walking has in creating a sense of place, in creating a sense of confidence in people and enjoyment of people walking in urban areas. If the urban renaissance is about trying to make urban areas more attractive by comparison with peripheral suburban areas, then it is fundamental that walking is a key element of that renaissance.

  238. Should walking therefore be planned and provided for as a mode of travel or mainly as a way of promoting the urban renaissance?
  (Mr Balch) I think the answer to that is both. It clearly is a mode of travel. Virtually every trip that is taken involves as part of that trip an element of walking, such as the journey to work in the morning which inevitably involves the walk from the transport mode or the car park to the place of work. There are not that many people who park directly at their place of work. It clearly is part of the pattern and network of trips which serve urban areas. We also have to look at it as more than just part of that transport. It is part of the experience of the quality of the place as well.

  239. How would expenditure on making cities more attractive differ from making them easier to walk in?
  (Mr Balch) I think the key is that making cities more attractive is about a bundle of attributes of which walking is one. I think the whole philosophy of the town centre management approach is about managing all of those features rather than simply pulling one out and dealing with it separately. Clearly specific attention has to be given to walking but it has to be as part of an understanding of the package of factors which make a particular urban area attractive. Each area will have its different balance between how much provision for walking, how much provision for public transport, how much provision for access for the car. You have, based upon an understanding of the locale, to develop the right set of policies.
  (Mr Tallentire) Much of the evidence that we see shows that if there is investment in the public realm, which is the walking environment, what follows very quickly is reciprocal investment in the private realm, funded by the occupiers and the property owners. There is a strong linkage between investment in that public and environment the trading environment of the commercial stakeholders in urbanisation.

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