Brisbane, Photo: Freya Grove

21 October 2010 – People and communities will take precedence in the long awaited transport oriented design guidelines released this month by the Queensland government.

The three part guide for mixed use retail, residential and commercial precincts on current and future transit corridors, says in part: “Manage place versus  node conflicts by putting the needs of the local community ahead of car-based commuters, visitors and through-traffic.”

The detailed and lengthy three part guide, produced by the state’s Department of Infrastructure and Planning, sets out a framework that aims to encourage development close to the CBD, resulting in less reliance on cars and car parking.

According to the guide, the evidence is in that TODs support better health, financial and environmental outcomes. For instance:

  • Car-dependent cities “spend 15 to 20 per cent of their wealth on transport whereas transit oriented cities spend 5 to 8 per cent. Roads and parking can also occupy over a third of the land in a car-dependent city” (Newman and Jennings, 2008).
  • TODs can achieve reductions in car use of more than 15 per cent, and car ownership also falls. There is “increasing evidence to suggest that, if implemented at the regional level, transit oriented development leads to more sustainable outcomes and reduced car dependence”, Bernick and Cervero (1996).
  • TODs can contribute to better use of cities’ investments in rail and bus systems by promoting higher-density, mixed-use development, thereby increasing patronage. The Transit Cooperative Research Program (2004) found “residents living near stations are five to six times more likely to commute via transit than are any other residents in a region”.
  • TODs are a more economical urban form than traditional post-war suburbs and new greenfield development. Studies show substantial cost savings from inner city redevelopment compared with conventional residential subdivisions on the fringe (Trubka, Newman & Bilsborough 2008).
  • A Canadian study (Victorian Transport Policy Institute 2008) reported that (per capita) private vehicle travel tends to decline:
  1. where population and employment density is higher, particularly if it is concentrated in compact activity centres with increased land-use mix
  2. in areas with connected street networks, which encourage pedestrian and cycle movement
  3. in areas with attractive and safe streets that accommodate pedestrian and bicycle travel and where buildings are connected to footpaths rather than set back behind parking lots
  4. in areas with traffic calming and other measures that reduce vehicle traffic speeds
  5. when a strong, competitive transit system is present, particularly when it is integrated with high-density development within 500 metres of transit stations.
  • Research suggests that one-third of physical inactivity can be addressed through environmental design. A 2006 review (Heath et al. 2006) found that physical activity increases by:
  1. 161 per cent as a result of community-scale land-use planning that supports physical activity, such as proximity to commercial centres, green spaces and schools, and connectivity of streets
  2. 48 per cent due to access to suitable places (such as trails, facilities and parks) and by reducing barriers such as safety concerns and lack of affordability
  3. 35 per cent because of urban design that supports physical activity at a street level, such as improved lighting, ease of street crossings, pathway continuity, traffic-calming structures and aesthetic enhancements.
The guide also outlines a framework for achieving TODs. The following provides some of the highlights in regard to the location, land use, design and transport considerations faced when planning for a TOD.

TOD Principles

Location

Infrastructure & Service Levels:
  • Locate development around nodes or corridors where infrastructure capacity exists, or can be created. Prioritise locations with high levels of transit service frequency.
  • Focus TOD planning and implementation at locations where there are frequent, fast, reliable transit services to a range of destinations.
  • Rethink the location—is there limited development potential within 800 metres of the station?
  • Use secondary factors (such as the capacity of existing infrastructure, local connectivity and amenity, level of community support, market interest) to determine the precinct type and to prioritise locations.
  • Give transit a high priority by enabling it to operate on dedicated or high-priority routes.
  • Consider converting traffic lanes to bus lanes to substantially increase public transport capacity.
Development Levels:
  • Ensure TODs occur at a scale that is appropriate for the location.
  • Apply TOD principles in new communities where transit nodes exist, or are proposed.
  • Perform a comprehensive site and context analysis for the area within 800 metres of the station before developing any plans.
Land use type:

  • Ensure TOD precincts are dominated by land uses that support transit.
  • Ensure that retail uses have strong pedestrian orientation.
Extent:
  • Focus on the area within 5 to 10 minutes walk of the transit node, considering the nature of the topography.
  • Identify the precinct core (the area within approximately 200 metres of the station).
  • Connect the precinct core to the station.
  • Locate the highest densities and mix of uses within the precinct core.
  • Identify the precinct’s walking catchments. The primary walking catchment is about 5 minutes walk. (400 metres), the secondary catchment is about 10 minutes walk (800 metres).
Density:
  • Incorporate higher-density residential uses in TOD precincts to increase vitality and provide more convenient access to services and transport.
  • Match density to accessibility—the higher the accessibility, the higher the density.
  • Intensify the core—consolidate density in the core of the precinct and taper off towards the outer areas of the precinct.
Intensity:
  • Incorporate high employment intensities and a mix of employment opportunities
  • Ensure employment diversity by providing a range of employment opportunities and business premises of varying sizes.
  • Design ground floors of buildings in the precinct core to convert to commercial uses in response to demand.
Mix:
  • Provide timely and convenient access to services and facilities required to support people’s daily needs, including an appropriate mix of commercial and retail services, jobs, community infrastructure and open space relevant to the context of the surrounding area.

Design adaptability:
  • Ensure development delivers a built form that is robust and flexible, allowing development to be adapted or redeveloped over time to vary uses, increase densities or increase employment intensity.
  • Ensure buildings have a durable, adaptable design and are constructed to a high standard with robust materials.
Built form:
  • Ensure development features high-quality subtropical design that maximises amenity, street activity and pedestrian connectivity.
  • Cluster taller buildings at central nodes and close to the transit station.
  • Arrange buildings to preserve views and vistas.
Public realm:
  • Provide for a high-quality public realm to meet the needs of the surrounding community, including open space, pedestrian areas and transit access.
  • Make places for people—when people have less access to private open space, the quality of the streets and public realm is important.
Integration:
  • Ensure design seamlessly integrates transit nodes and the community.
  • Manage place vs. node conflicts by putting the needs of the local community ahead of car-based commuters, visitors and through-traffic.
Safety and accessibility:
  • Ensure development promotes a high sense of personal and community safety and equitable access to all public areas.
Parking:
  • Locate, design, provide and manage car parking in TOD precincts to support walking, cycling and public transport accessibility.
Transport:
  • Create an increased mode share for walking, cycling and public transport by providing high levels of accessibility and public amenity within precincts to stations and surrounding areas for cyclists and pedestrians, with priority for pedestrians.
  • Give priority to pedestrian movement in the transport hierarchy.
  • Create a permeable and interconnected street network such as a traditional grid pattern or modified grid.
  • Place the station at the heart of the precinct with prominent and easily identifiable station entrances.
  • Provide pleasant, safe, unobstructed pedestrian and cycle access to the station.
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