Stantec and DecarboN8 announce new research programme: Bridging the Gap

Stantec and DecarboN8 have announced a new research programme about people and place: the missing piece of the surface transport decarbonisation agenda. Since the publication of ‘Decarbonising Transport’, research has been published suggesting that current plans will fall short of the UK’s legally binding carbon reduction targets, and that greater emphasis will be needed on changing patterns of demand if this gap is to be bridged. This research programme, called Bridging the Gap, will assess how the planning and design of places and infrastructure can support and accelerate the transition to a net zero mobility future.

Focussing on three place typologies (urban centres, urban edge, and new settlement), Bridging the Gap will examine how real places might adapt to different future travel scenarios, using the Transport for the North Future Travel Scenarios. For each of these places, the programme team will establish as the basis for three structured workshops, place-based parameters that could influence the delivery of a low-carbon mobility future.

The workshops will help assess what kinds of mobility problems people would want to be solved as they adapt to these futures; consider how technology might be able to resolve these problems; and explore how the market might deliver solutions as an integral part of the planning and design of new places. The aim is to develop Land Use and Design Optimisation techniques that can provide evidence to support better decision making about future plans for people, place and transport infrastructure.

Bridging the Gap will focus on locations outside the main city conurbations in the North of England. The need for the carbon transition to align with the social equity and economic challenges faced across the Northern Powerhouse is an important component of this work. Bridging the Gap research team will be led by Keith Mitchell, Director of Transport & Place at Stantec, and Greg Marsden, Professor of Transport Governance and DecarboN8 Director at the University of Leeds.

Keith Mitchell, Director of Transport & Place at Stantec, said: “There is an urgent need to contemplate the changes we need to make to how we travel if we are to meet our carbon goals. Simply assuming that everything can stay the same, whilst technology enables our net zero future is not enough. Our success will depend on effective engagement of a wide range of stakeholders including local government, private sector developers, investors, and local communities, both as participants in stakeholder workshops and as critical friends. In addition to supporting the programme, our hope is that this engagement will help stakeholders assess how these issues might impact on their own future plans.”

Greg Marsden, Professor of Transport Governance and DecarboN8 Director at the University of Leeds, said: “It is vitally important to provide a positive vision of what zero carbon living could look like. It might feel like we are a long way from that reality today and it certainly looks very different depending on the kind of place you live in. This collaboration will bring together communities with the key actors who will invest in that change. I hope it takes us a big step forward in a more place-based approach to decarbonising how we live and travel.”

Find out more about Bridging the Gap.