Traffic misery for Sutton Coldfield’s morning commuters
Area B.West of M6 Toll, North of Falcom Lodge, Whitehouse Common
10th September 2013
It’s official, the morning peak inbound trips into Sutton Coldfield is one of busiest in the city with a 6% increase recorded during 2012.
Data provided by Centro revealed that in 2012, morning peak trips by public transport into Sutton Coldfield represented a 20.9% share of all trips (bus 16.7% and rail 4.2%) with car representing the remaining 79.1% share.
The share of public transport has decreased from 21.6% in 2010, despite an increase of 2.7% in bus passenger trips and a 1.9% increase in rail passenger trips. Total public transport trips increased by 2.6% in Sutton Coldfield.
The figures are quite alarming considering Birmingham City Council’s proposals to build 10,000 houses and 50 hectares of industrial zone on the Sutton Coldfield green belt.
The new development could increase the population by 26,000 new residents and the end result will see 1.6%* travel by bicycle, 4.4%** use the train (via a shuttle bus), 17.3%** on the bus and 79.1%** car. This clearly does not sound very sustainable.
The National Planning Policy says “Encouragement should be given to solutions which support reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and reduce congestion. In preparing Local Plans, local planning authorities should therefore support a pattern of development which, where reasonable to do so, facilitates the use of sustainable modes of transport.”
The findings of the now revoked RSS [para 8.16.] found “A key issue in terms of sustainable transport from any such urban extensions is whether it would be realistic to regard them as within walking distance or at worst cycling distance to Sutton Coldfield town centre and station. Developers referred to their aspirations to extend bus services into the suggested new development areas. The report questioned the merits of providing a shuttle bus service to a rail network or secondary travel plan, compared to the alternative option of a single car journey to a place of employment.
The RSS report agreed “In our judgement, it would be unlikely that a significant proportion of new residents would generally be willing to use two public transport modes for their journeys-to-work or indeed other trips to Birmingham city centre. In that context and given the relatively good access to the Strategic Road Network (SRN) we are not convinced that substantial urban extensions in such a location would not be primarily car-orientated, and therefore perhaps not as sustainable as claimed.”
The latest figures for Walsall, where the RSS report recommended new homes be built over the Sutton Coldfield green belt, found in 2011, the morning peak trips by public transport into Walsall represented a 33%** share of all trips (bus 30.9%**, and rail 2.1%**) with car representing the remaining 67%** share.
The share of public transport has remained the same as it was in 2009. Bus passenger trips, however, have decreased by 2.3%** whilst rail passenger trips have increased by 17.4%.**
Car trips have decreased by 1.1%** but still remain the dominant mode.
Overall, morning peak inbound trips into Walsall have decreased by 1.2%.**
So 4 years on since the publication of the now defunct RSS report, the evidence remains the same on site sustainability.
The RSS report rejected the developer’s arguments in favour of Sutton Coldfield green belt and thought the Black Country a more sustainable location. The Black Country site offers relatively good access to Walsall town centre and a railway line which passes employment and activity centres like the University of Central England en route to Birmingham New Street.
The Black Country’s Local Plan proposes a level of new housing provision which exceeds the latest projection for household growth. There is therefore potentially available capacity to help meet any shortfall in provision in Birmingham.
* ONS Table CT0015 (2011 Census)
** Centro Annual Statistics
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