Ironically, there is too little real planning in the Local Plan Review which is currently underway.
Perhaps most disastrously, the traffic proposals in the accompanying Peter Brett Report are expressly based on ‘ignoring the effects of induced demand’ (Section 4.2.2).
Instead ‘a fixed demand approach has been used’ (Section 4.2.5).
For those new to the idea, ‘induced demand’ is the concept that after supply increases, more of a good is consumed.
In the context of planning for roads, it has been called: “The great intellectual black hole.
The one professional certainty that everyone thoughtful seems to acknowledge, yet almost no one is willing to act upon.”
Just like the banks prior to the crash, bolstered by complacent industry consensus the Brett Report perpetuates this professional failure to act.
Which brings to mind the aphorism, ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’.
The only real question is how early will it all come grinding back to a halt.
It’s easy to forget that Highways Englands’ last proposed road ‘improvements’ were no long-term solution.
Our highways and byways were predicted to clog up again no later than 2035.
And it’s a racing certainty that with these current proposals, which simply rehash the earlier ones, gridlock will actually arrive far earlier than that, unless we radically change the way we get about.
One trick we could try is to put in the walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure first, and insist that housebuilders design their new developments for low-car communities.
Then see how this all beds in and how much it cuts back on predicted congestion, and only after that should we take stock to see what’s still needed on the roads, and, intriguingly, also take stock to see what changes new technology has delivered in the meantime.
Autonomous vehicles, platooning of lorries, drone deliveries and the like could spawn quite some change over the next few years.
It is also reported that fewer youngsters are learning to drive.
This national trend could well relieve pressures in the future too.
Also, Park and Ride is not seen as viable by the Brett Report.
This is a contestable point of view.
And, even if true at the moment, a site still needs to be identified and secured in anticipation of future changes in travel patterns, and in anticipation of our greatly increased population which will change the economics in favour of P&R.
Needless to say, the report is silent on securing a site.
Thinking ahead is the whole point of having a plan.
Yet there’s no thinking ahead that I can see in continuing past practices that have resulted in our present mess of pollution, congestion, severance of this city from its countryside, and a quite astounding loss of once common wildlife.
And don’t get me started on diseases that are greatly helped on their way by just the kind of sedentary lifestyles which we are, right now, planning to lock into the way the city evolves for years to come.
Bill Sharp, Whyke Lane, Chichester