Active travel is at the heart of city’s transformational plan
Urban communities which enable people to be active – as they travel for work and leisure – are at the heart of the Exeter’s ambitious and transformational plan for building 12,000 new homes fit for the 21st century.
Built on a historic road network, adding additional capacity through road building in Exeter is no longer possible and it is recognised that the city faces many transport challenges. This highlights the need to create new communities and car-free neighbourhoods reducing congestion and improving the quality of life for residents.
The Liveable Exeter goal is to build a sustainable city with 50% of people engaging in active travel, which focuses on walking and cycling, rather than travelling by private car. This will be the target of at least eight of the plan’s key sites over the next 20 years.
The plans put schools, workplaces, leisure facilities and shops in the immediate radius of the new homes, enabling residents to walk or cycle to reach them. The Liveable Exeter plan also retains and expands green spaces and valley parks to allow people to move around in a natural setting. It will ensure that the streets and areas that form the public realm of the city are of the highest quality to encourage activity and wellbeing. These will build the framework within which homes and jobs will be created shaping how people move around the city, influencing congestion and health.
Working with Sport England as one of 12 national pilots, Exeter aims to be the most active city in the UK by creating an infrastructure that simultaneously reduces congestion and improves the health and wellbeing of its citizens.
The Sport England 10 Active Design Principles are a key objective of the Liveable Exeter plan. The principles take a fresh look at the opportunities to encourage and promote sport and physical activity through the design and layout of our built environment. Exeter is committed to working with these principles as a means to improve health and wellbeing, cutting congestion in the city. Each of the eight sites will have these principles at heart.
1. Activity for all
2. Walkable communities
3. Connected walking and cycling routes
4. Co-location of community facilities
5. Network of multifunctional open space
6. High quality streets and spaces
7. Appropriate infrastructure
8. Active buildings
9. Management, maintenance, monitoring and evaluation
10. Activity promotion and local champions
To assist our communities further in becoming more active, Sport England has come together with the city council, Wellbeing Exeter and Exeter City Community Trust to create new roles supporting wellbeing in Exeter through the new Community Physical Activity Organisers.
Chief Executive and Growth Director of Exeter City Council, Karime Hassan, said: ‘There is a national housing crisis, and this is reflected locally. Exeter has a number of challenges and congestion is one of the key challenges. As much as practical, the housing programme will seek to increase density of future housing and provide a range of uses that will make it possible, by design, to travel to facilities by foot and bicycle, and to address the built environment in such a way that an active lifestyle is possible.
‘We will need to ensure we create a comprehensive and coherent permanent cycle and pedestrian network that connects key economic hubs to transport interchanges and residential areas. Emerging thinking from transport planners would aim for 50 per cent of trips within the city to be made on foot or by bike. This complements the city’s aspirations to encourage greater physical activity and to become the country’s most active city.’
Additionally, this 50 per cent active travel target matches that of the draft Exeter Transport Strategy.
Richard Marsh, project director of Liveable Exeter, said: ‘As Exeter grows it will be important to recognise and improve the qualities that make it liveable. The streets, spaces and parks that link neighbourhoods and the city centre need to be safe and attractive to use, encouraging people to be active, healthy and use cars less.
‘Exeter can grow in a way that enables everyone to contribute to its success, and also benefit from it. People should prosper and have access to similar opportunities. Neighbourhoods are the building block of the city and the improvement and creation of liveable neighbourhoods, combining new homes with meaningful and high value jobs and services, is at the heart of this vision. Neighbourhoods that promote wellbeing and physical activity can be achieved at scale through investment that can flow through the implementation of a transformational plan for delivering homes in the city.’