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

Supplementary memorandum by Railtrack plc (WTC 80A)


1.  What examples are there of your organisation being actively involved (not simply as consultees) in the land use planning of areas within walking distance of stations?

(a) are there examples of planning in such areas where the rail industry does not have a direct interest in the land?

  The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has developed a concept called "transport development areas". This concept looks at how meeting the planning policy to bring urban "brownfield" sites back into use can be improved by enhancing public transport access to the site. Different transport modes such as rail, underground and bus can contribute to sustainable transport in a built environment.

  By improving public transport links it is anticipated that car usage can be reduced and overall land use density improved. The higher rate of return received by the developer through maximising the density of development enables the funding of improved transport links. Railtrack is supporting this scheme through the part-sponsorship of the good practice guide targeted at local authorities and others who wish to promote the development of this initiative. The concept has received widespread support from a number of elected bodies, eg Scottish Executive and Greater London Authority.

  Through the activities of Railtrack many town and city centre development projects practical examples of how pedestrian movements can be enhanced and integrated are being secured. One such example is the recent resolution by Luton Borough Council to grant outline planning consent for the redevelopment of the station which provides, as an integral element of the master-plan, a new station square and a significant improvement in pedestrian links into the town centre. At present the link is an unattractive raised walkway, which is open to the elements and not offering a sense of safety. The new plans envisage upgrading the walkway and providing a new ground level route that will provide for the first time a direct and attractive route into the town.

  This approach is being adopted and promoted in property schemes throughout the country. Other examples include plans for the redevelopment of the old goods yard at Brighton where a significant new mixed use urban quarter is being promoted in association with the Borough Council. A master-plan led scheme is evolving where significant new linkages between the station, existing communities and the new development will break down some of the urban design challenges facing that part of the town. The needs of pedestrians and cyclists again is at the heart of the master-plan.

  In addition Railtrack is consulted on all development plans from local authorities to which Railtrack responds.

(b) would "station area plans" (as used in the USA) be in the rail industry's interests by generating additional patronage, as well as helping to meet the Government's sustainable development objectives?

  Railtrack's Major Stations master-plan initiative is looking at the long-term needs of all the major stations. For example initial plans for London Waterloo have been drawn up in recognition of the need to include local stakeholders, including the local authority and community groups. Local meetings, including a workshop with all key stakeholders present to discuss the various options proved to be the catalyst in the formation of the South Bank Partnership. This significant Railtrack led initiative has now been able to secure SRB funding and is looking at the long-term development needs of the wider South Bank area.

  There is value in being able to set plans for enhancing stations and their facilities in a wider local context. Railtrack would continue to support working closely with local authorities through the Local Transport plan process as this enables decisions to be made on how to plan delivery of improvements in an informed and structured way.

  For instance, choices on increasing car park provision can be directed towards locations best able to handle the consequent increase in road use and decisions taken on how alternative transport modes can be developed to manage changes in local demand.

  We are working with Sustrans to develop the Access Routes to Stations initiative which will improve alternative access for pedestrians and cyclists.

(c) will Rail Passenger Partnership funding be adequate to make a significant contribution to such a planning effort throughout the country?

  Railtrack welcomes the development of the Rail Passenger Partnership funding scheme. We feel that the Rail Passenger Partnership fund is able to contribute to valuable schemes that the industry is unable to fund through commercially viable grounds alone, however we feel it would not be appropriate for us to comment on whether this is adequate. This is a matter for the SRA.

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