Land Use and Transport Integrated Policies in Peripheral Areas


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This presentation summarizes the paper presented at the European Transport Conference in 2009 available at:
It puts forward land use and transport measures to be applied within integrated policies so as to improve sustainability and regional cohesion in peripheral areas.

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  • The paper is divided in 3 sections: The 1st one introduces some background information about the 3 items we are dealing with, namely: the land use and transport relationship; peripheral areas and priorities of investment and LUT policies In the 2nd section we’ll introduce the study area and then we’ll emphasize the particular LUT needs And I will finish with the main conclusions and suggestions for further research
  • The relationship between land use and transport is reciprocal and highly influenced by accessibility, understood as the capacity to offer a number of opportunities to interact with diverse activities. This means that transport infrastructures shape land use location through changes in accessibility, and land use demands the construction of transport infrastructures to be connected. The more accessibility increases, the more land use changes happen. Although most authors agree on this statements, causality has not been fully understood yet. In consequence, there is a clear need of policy integration since land use and transport issues have been planned separately Peripheral areas, where transport investment is more recent, have the challenge to learn from the experience of central areas to avoid the disadvantages of an ever-increasing travel demand.
  • How are peripheral areas? They have low rates of accessibility both with other regions and within the region itself: this means that there are few opportunities of interaction between activities, since There is also a shortage of human, material, economic, financial, etc resources:. Plus, they are far away and poorly connected with decision maker places, and Its economic structure is weak and spatially polarized In this situation, transport investments do not assure further development on their own. They need to be inserted in an integral strategy
  • The question is: How to promote development in areas that combine a shortage of resources and a wide need of investments? Up to now, investments in PA have been focussed in the most developed and with the larger potential area, which has led to a greater polarization and spatial imbalance According to Hansen, this phase must give way to a second stage of investments in intermediate towns to re-balance and spread development trough the region Later on, investments would be generalized through the whole region since it would be ready to make the most of it thanks to the connection provided to intermediate nodes.
  • We are now introducing our case study, including the present situation and main problems of Cantabria as a peripheral area, some suggestions to overcome its peripherality and the main obstacles that we have found to achieve it.
  • Cantabria belongs to the Atlantic Arc, whose position is peripheral in relation to Europe, and it is also peripheral in relation to the Iberian Peninsula, being far away from the core areas, namely Madrid and Barcelona, but near from Bilbao, the connection joint to Europe and the Ebro Axis. Cantabria is a regular peripheral area corresponding to a single Autonomous Region with its own Regional Authority independent from the other two regional governments of the Northwest Spanish Arc (which is the full study area of the project in which this research is integrated). Cantabria represents about 1 percent of the whole Spanish territory and population. It is a small mountainous region both in physical extension (just over 5000 sq km (Spain: 504.645 (1.05 %) ) and population, with less than 600 000 inhabitants (Spain: 46 661 950 (1,2%))
  • Cantabria shows a strongly polarized structure being Santander and its recently low-density developed surroundings the main focus area, to the detriment of intermediate towns. Some figures to explain the weak, but potentially better, urban system: 66 % of population live in the north central sector 21 % of population live in settlements with less than 1,000 inhabitants 75 % of population live within 2 km of the main transport infrastructures: A-67 (north to south) and A-8 (east to west), thus promoting exterior connection, particularly with near Bilbao to the East, and internal polarization and spatial imbalances
  • Average economic figures show that Cantabria is approaching the national average, but it still has a lower tertiary rate whereas industry and construction are a little above. However, there are huge spatial disparities, with a great concentration of activities in the coast and central area, and vast rural areas inside the region. There are also some tourism-specialised villages based on secondary homes, some heavy industrial towns that are in decline since the eighties, and a large number of small settlements where most residents work outside the municipality, or run activities related to the primary sector.
  • We are now introducing specific objectives and guidelines to force the revitalization of intermediate nodes. Intermediate nodes allow the spread of development and a sustainable mobility, and avoid congestion because they reduce the need to travel and favour the efficiency of public transport.
  • In Cantabria, only Torrelavega and Castro-Urdiales have reached the optimal population threshold suggested by Banister in 2007, that is, between 25,000 and 50,000 inhabitants. However, fortunately the region counts with a dense network of Small and Medium-sized Towns that fulfil supramunicipal functions. This relationship with their neighbours is the basis to the success of the urban system restructuration, which will give more functions and specific weight to intermediate towns. To achieve it, subregional facilities must be located in these intermediate nodes thus favouring firm and population location. It is also necessary to show to the public the advantages of these local economies, to give priority to building restoration and the reuse of brownfield areas, and to provide an adequate offer of public transport.
  • In addition, attention should be paid to the urban development of each settlement. Compact and medium to high density development with a mixture of compatible land uses should be enhanced without many difficulties since this is the way towns have traditionally evolved in Spain. There must also be a right coordination between urban development and the public transport network. On the other hand, it is also necessary to improve the quality of life of citizens living in low density and single use areas recently developed around the main urban areas. One of the measures to apply is to enforce the inclusion of retail and facilities within a walking or cycling distance of these residential areas.
  • Another objective is to get to a more efficient use of the means of transport that are available, that is: favouring walking and cycling whenever it’s possible, public transport for longer trips, and a more efficient use of the car when no other means of transport is possible because of the origin, destination or purpose. The promotion of intermediate nodes will favour itself trips to be made on foot or by bicycle, but it needs to be encouraged by the adaptation of streets and roads between near settlements to pedestrian requirements: lighting, provision of pavements, and so on. Public transport will also benefit from a urban system with an origin and destination matrix more limited than sprawl allows. In addition, some improvements should be done at the regional level to make public transport competitive with the car: some fares reduction, more frequency and comfort, diffusion of timetables and ways to pay and save.
  • The car will still be necessary for, at least, that part of the population that lives in small settlements where public transport and local amenities are unfeasible. This situation, particularly significant in Cantabria, implies the need for a more efficient use of the car by providing infrastructure and promoting park&ride and car sharing. The former must link car parking and public transport nodes (bus, rail, bicycles), whereas the latter must be particularly promoted in workplaces. Workplaces are a favourable environment to promote car sharing because driver and passenger have the opportunity to know each other and have some references in advance, and also because timetables are more likely to be coincident. Car sharing would be also enhanced with the provision of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes and parking restrictions Finally, it is also important to keep adavancing on more eco-efficient vehicles and supporting the substitution of the most polluting ones.
  • Apart from possible technical and economic issues, the institutional factor is a key feature to overcome in order to get LUT integrated policies started. Indeed, public acceptance, regulations and institutional co-operation are equally needed for LUT policies suceddfulness.
  • One of the objectives is to generate a swift into public preferences in favour of compact and intermediate settlements and no-motorised or public transport mobility. Considering the current demand for detached houses and private cars, it is essential to combine LUT policies with education and information programmes showing the negative effects of the current demand and the benefits of the change suggested. Fortunately, in Cantabria, as in the rest of Spain, compact development has been common in towns and cities’ centres. In addition, public acceptance in important because is usually required for politicians to adopt potentially unpopular measures, that may of course provide benefits in advance to the forthcoming elections.
  • Another difficult task is to coordinate regulations about land use and transport between them and at the regional and local level. The regional governement of Cantabria is now elaborating a Spatial Strategy at the regional level where transport, mobility, land use and regional planning must be dealt with.
  • The success of the regional strategy requires the co-operation between local and regional authorities, and also within the different departments of each institution. Unfortunately, this is far from real in Cantabria nowadays, which means that actions should be takes to show to the politicians the benefits of these win-to-win relationships
  • We have reached to some conclusions that confirm of qualify some of the agreements that have already been stated in the academic literature. Peripheral areas show a high degree of spatial polarization that has seriously affected intermediate towns On the other side, some relevant transport investments have been done by building physical transport infrastrcutures, although there transport system (including private and public means of transport) is far from appropriate
  • To reduce the spatial imbalances without dropping further development, which together with environment protection is the basis of sustainable development, the integration of LUT policies and its coordination from the regional authorities is essential. These policies have the challenge to fulfil 3 main objectives: Enhancing intermediate towns Making urban development more efficient Making a more efficient use of the means of transport
  • The main challenges that peripheral areas have to face are: Public acceptance of compact development and a new mobility pattern mainly based on walking, cycling and public transport Policy and regulations coordination at the regional level and institutional co-operation To reach to a trade-off between politicians’ requirement to obtain benefits in the short term and middle and long term measures
  • There is a vast research background about the land use and transport relationship, which has not reached to an end yet, and also about the integration of both policies. Most of these investigations have taken central and metropolitan areas as case studies. We think that peripheral areas require their own studies because of the different background, problems and resources. It is also necessary to keep investigating on how to involve politicians, socioeconomic agents and citizens in this required change to more sustainable regions.
  • Land Use and Transport Integrated Policies in Peripheral Areas

    2. 2. UNIVERSITY OF CANTABRIA GEURBAN – Urban and Spatial Research Group 1. Land Use and Transport in Peripheral Areas 2. Case study: Cantabria 3. Conclusions and further research Land Use and Transport Relationship Peripheral Areas Prioritization of investments and LUT policies
    3. 3. Transport infrastructures shape land use through changes in accessibility Land uses (activities/population) demand transport infrastructures in order to be connected LAND USE AND TRANSPORT RELATIONSHIP Transport infrastructure Land Use Changes SHAPES require
    4. 4. Low accessibility PERIPHERAL AREAS Spatial polarization Weak socio-economic structure Disconnection from decision making centres Scarcity of resources Transport infrastructures must be accompanied with other measures to avoid tunnel effect or pump effect
    5. 5. <ul><li>Most socio-economic efficient investments (core area inside peripheral region) </li></ul>3. Spread of investments through the region HOW CAN DEVELOPMENT BE PROMOTED IN PERIPHERAL AREAS? 2. Investments on a selection of intermediate nodes To get resources for and prepare To spread development and prepare Hansen, N.M. (1965) Unbalanced growth and regional development, Western Economic Journal, 4 (1) 3-14 Land Use and Transport Integrated Policies
    6. 6. 1. Land Use and Transport in Peripheral Areas 2. Case study: Cantabria 3. Conclusions and further research Cantabria Land use and transport policies suggestion Obstacles for LUT policies implementation
    7. 7. STUDY AREA: CANTABRIA 582,138 inhabitants 5,321 sq. Km. Bilbao: 100 Km. Madrid: 400 Km.
    8. 8. Santander: 182,302 inhabitants Torrelavega: 55,910 inhabitants 898 settlements 91 % with less than 1,000 inhabitants
    9. 10. Making intermediate towns attractive to population and firm location Improving transport sustainability LAND USE AND TRANSPORT POLICIES SUGGESTION Making urban development more efficient
    10. 11. Making intermediate towns attractive to population and firm location A selection of Small and Medium-Sized Towns must be strengthen for a balanced territory: Intermediate nodes to reduce the need to travel <ul><li>Priority for people and firm location: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Support for building restoration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inventory of misused land and buildings </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cantabria: Torrelavega, Reinosa, Laredo have (or must have to) act as sub-regional centres </li></ul><ul><li>Smaller towns must have upper-municipal functions to spread development throughout the whole region </li></ul><ul><li>Location of sub-regional facilities </li></ul><ul><li>To show the advantages of these local economies </li></ul><ul><li>Provision of adequate public transport </li></ul>
    11. 12. Making urban development more efficient Land use policies continuing compact and walkable cities’ traditional land use pattern through: - Multi-family buildings - When needed, new developments must be located in brownfields and connected by public transport - Mix of uses, unless strictly required (due to pollution, resources, land consumption) Improving the quality of life introducing new uses in single-use and low density areas - Favouring building restoration over the construction of new buildings
    12. 13. Improving transport sustainability Transport measures to improve the efficiency of travel - Upgrading the physical layout of streets and roads to favour walking and cycling and reducing short trips by car - Enhancing public transport : regional coordination of fares, frequency, timetables; support for vehicle renewal; and more investments in PT and its diffusion <ul><li>Cantabrian Transport </li></ul><ul><li>Payment card, integrated access to bus timetables and links to other means of transport </li></ul><ul><li>There are many close settlements (less than 3km. away) connected by roads unfit for pedestrians </li></ul>
    13. 14. Improving transport sustainability <ul><li>Measures towards a more efficient use of the car : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Park&Ride spaces linked to public transport nodes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Car sharing programmes in work and study places </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provision of high-occupancy vehicle lanes and parking restrictions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support to eco-efficient vehicles </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In Cantabria 21 percent of the regional population live in small settlements that do not have a critical mass to support local services or public transport </li></ul><ul><li>Shifting the cost of the use of the car to force the change towards public transport cannot be implemented in the whole region. </li></ul>
    14. 15. OBSTACLES FOR LUT POLICIES IMPLEMENTATION Public acceptance Institutional cooperation Regulations
    15. 16. - Citizens have imported the American way of life, thus there is currently a high demand for low-density development - Short term period for benefits expected by politicians (less than 4 years) - Education and information about potential negative effects of an individual vehicle transport based system - Diffusion of the positive results after the application of concrete measures Public acceptance
    16. 17. The Regional Government is now elaborating the first Regional Spatial Strategy, and some local authorities have their own mobility plans. A great effort must be made to synchronize land use, transport and mobility measures at the regional level - Land use and transport policies should be coordinated and integrated in a Regional Spatial Strategy Regulations
    17. 18. All kinds of conflicts are present: between departments within the same governmental body (horizontal conflicts) and between governments operating at various levels (vertical conflicts about land use issues between local and regional authorities The regional government must establish a framework of vertical and horizontal cooperation Institutional cooperation
    18. 19. 1. Land Use and Transport in Peripheral Areas 2. Case study: Cantabria 3. Conclusions and further research
    19. 20. <ul><li>High degree of polarization : great differences between the main city (and its sprawled surroundings) and rural areas </li></ul><ul><li>A clear scarcity of intermediate towns </li></ul><ul><li>Main transport investments have been made in infrastructure construction , </li></ul><ul><li>There is a shortage of investment in transport management of intraregional connections </li></ul>Peripheral areas
    20. 21. <ul><li>Coordination at the regional level in order to: </li></ul><ul><li>Enhance intermediate towns </li></ul><ul><li>Make urban development more efficient </li></ul><ul><li>Make a more efficient use of the means of transport </li></ul>Land Use and Transport Policies Integration
    21. 22. <ul><li>Public acceptance : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Compact development (flats vs houses) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Walking, cycling and public transport vs cars </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Coordination at the regional level and institutional co-operation : between departments and institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Breakdown between political periods and long term measures </li></ul>Obstacles to LUT policies implementation
    22. 23. <ul><li>For the involvement of both politicians and citizens </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring the impact of the policies suggested to be able to adapt them to each particular area and current situation </li></ul>Further Research
    23. 24. Thank you very much Soledad Nogués and Henar Salas-Olmedo Dpt. Geography, Urban and Spatial Planning School of Civil Engineering UNIVERSITY OF CANTABRIA - SPAIN [email_address]