Examination of Witnesses (Questions 572
WEDNESDAY 25 APRIL 2001
572. Can I welcome you to the final session
of the Committee's inquiry into Walking in Towns and Cities and
ask you to identify yourselves.
(Mr Whitby) I am Mark Whitby, Senior
Vice President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, I will be
president next year. I am also Chairman of the Urban Design Alliance,
that being a collection of institutions, the RIBA, the ICE, the
RTPI, the Landscape Institution, the RICS, the Civic Trust and
a group called the Urban Design Group.
573. What about the dustmen?
(Mr Whitby) We are all professionals.
(Mr Blackwell) I am Ray Blackwell, a Member of the
Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Highways
Transportation and a local government officer of 30 years standing.
(Mr Sellers) I am Barry Sellers, I am an Urban Designer,
a Chartered Town Planner. I am a member of the Urban Design Group
and a chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. I
am currently working for the London Borough of Wandsworth.
574. Do you want to say anything by way of introduction
or are you happy to go straight to questions?
(Mr Whitby) We are happy to go straight to questions.
Chairman: If you disagree with each other please
let us know. If you agree then one answer will be more than adequate.
Thank you very much.
575. Good morning, could you tell us what you
think the main obstacles are to implementing the recommendations
of your Report, Designing Streets for People? Where are the blockages?
(Mr Whitby) The main recommendations of Designing
Streets for People were that we managed, coordinated and streamlined
bureaucracy. We managed the knowledge around Designing Streets
for People. We looked at community governance, the funding, the
skills and expertise that are necessary to deliver it and the
legislation that surrounds it. Each one of those is a blockage.
If I took the first one, there is going to be, as we develop a
desire from amongst people, from amongst the community for Redesigning
the Streets for People, a possible shortage of skills, and we
are addressing that. There is a question about funding, although
it is worth saying that funds are available for the designing
of streets and the management of streets, but it is a matter of
the appropriate use of those funds and directing those towards
the benefit for people as opposed to the benefit for traffic.
There is legislation which is constricting the better design of
streets and places. We recognise that there are definite problems
in terms of recognising who has ownership of street space from
the point of view of management of street space. Who do people
go to when they want to think about replanning the space that
they communally own together?
576. Who should have ownership or control, in
(Mr Whitby) We believe that the local authorities
should have ownership, but they need to identify single points
of ownership within the local authority very much in the form
that a station master is identified as having ownership of the
railway station, an independent.
Mr Olner: That was a long time ago.
Mrs Dunwoody: That is a very unfortunate comparison,
if I may say so.
Mr Donohoe: Choose something else?
577. Almost anything else.
(Mr Whitby) I think the stations themselves are probably
better than they have been for a while.
578. I think you should move on rather rapidly,
you are getting into difficult waters here.
579. Let me assist by asking another question,
looking at the street environment and the street scene as it is
currently what would you say were the disincentives that it creates
for people to walk more than they do currently? Somebody might
argue, it may be aesthetically not so pleasing, a badly designed
street as compared to a well designed street, but I am not entirely
clear exactly how that prevents people from walking.
(Mr Whitby) We could argue that a badly designed street
is a less enjoyable space to be and therefore is something they
are less likely to use, hence the less they use it the less they
are likely to use it because less people are round and the more
alone they are and the more subject they are to attrition in that
sense. Much more fundamental is that streets have progressively
been, over the last 30 or possibly 50 years, possibly longer,
designed for traffic and the pedestrians have been marginalised
incrementally year-on-year to a point where pedestrian use on
streets has been declining remarkably since car ownership has
become more universal.