Building for a New Urban Mobility


Solving London’s housing affordability and supply crises will require a sharp increase in housebuilding during the coming years. But new development will have to plug into a transport system that is already stretched – against the backdrop of a growing climate emergency.

New technologies could result in a revolution for active and shared travel, increasing the efficiency of our transport system – but it is also possible that they could worsen London’s congestion, pollution and public realm difficulties by putting more vehicles on the road. One catalyst for potential problems is that many new London developments lock in car ownership and use:

  • New housing developments are more likely than existing housing to feature car parking, and their residents are more likely to own a car. 66 per cent of residents in new London developments owned one car or more, compared to a 54 per cent London average, according to the latest available survey data published by Transport for London.
  • Many residents use cars frequently, even in areas with good access to public transport. 30 per cent of car owners living in well-connected Inner London
    developments use their car most days of the week. In response to these obstacles, this report makes the case for a policy-led approach termed “New Urban Mobility” – the harnessing of technology to enable active travel, public transport use, the cleanest vehicle technology and minimal use of private cars.

In response to these obstacles, this report makes the case for a policy-led approach termed “New Urban Mobility” – the harnessing of technology to enable active travel, public transport use, the cleanest vehicle technology and minimal use of private cars.

New Urban Mobility

The New Urban Mobility approach encourages use of 10 principles (emerging from research and practice) to enable adaptive and sustainable development:

  1. Base masterplans on active travel and public transport
  2. Use street layouts to prioritise active travel
  3. Limit parking provision, and locate strategically
  4. Enable easy interchanging
  5. Provide electric charging infrastructure
  6. Consolidate local freight
  7. Offer shared mobility service memberships
  8. Ensure buildings are easily adaptable
  9. Future-proof parking
  10. Create dynamic streetscapes

In investigating why London struggles to future-proof its new developments, we also identified five main barriers:

  • Lack of priority given to planning for New Urban Mobility in planning applications.
  • Lack of expertise on how to build for New Urban Mobility, with “highways” teams often focused on facilitating car movement.
  • Outdated assumptions and expectations in transport plans.
  • Short-term approaches to development and management, such as inflexible and incompatible construction materials and systems.
  • Insufficient monitoring of new development after completion.


Identifying these barriers led us to form eight recommendations that will help embed New Urban Mobility in London’s developments. The recommendations are focused on strengthening local political leadership, building adaptability into new developments, unbundling parking spaces from homes, and improving evaluation of progress after completion.

To strengthen local political leadership:

1. Local authorities should prioritise New Urban Mobility in both strategic planning and development control. This should include making sure parking provision is always compliant with London Plan standards, and where possible, even more ambitious in limiting numbers.

2. Every London borough should designate a strategic development area as a “New Urban Mobility zone”, where they will work with developers to implement New Urban Mobility design principles (highlighted in Chapter 2) and regularly assess progress against a set of KPIs.

3. The UK government, in partnership with the Mayor of London, should
match-fund development receipts to support the development of mobility hubs in new developments. Mobility hubs co-locate public and shared modes of transport, with added public realm enhancements. This funding would encourage boroughs and developers to implement future mobility design principles and could be achieved by growing existing funding streams such as the government’s Future Mobility Zones Fund and TfL’s Liveable Neighbourhoods Programme.

To build adaptability into new developments:

4. Focus on long-term “place value” 1. Developers and landowners should take seriously the impact that developments built with sustainable transport in mind can have on place value.

5. Build out any barriers to adaptability. Where car parking spaces are required, they should be built to specifications that allow easy conversion to alternative uses. For multi-storey or underground car parks, the materials used should allow future conversion to either residential, commercial or leisure use, and dimensions should be sufficient for appropriate ceiling heights.

6. Local authorities should encourage more adaptable developments by fast-tracking sustainable adaptations for New Urban Mobility and accommodating flexibility in discretionary standards.

To unbundle parking spaces from homes:

7. Building and estate managers should offer renewable parking and charging membership to residents of new developments, rather than ownership of a parking space. This would enable future conversion of residential car parks into other uses.

To improve post-completion evaluation:

8. London boroughs, in partnership with Transport for London, should evaluate new developments once completed. This should include evaluation of whether New Urban Mobility principles have been adopted, and collection of data on how developments are used.

  • 1 Carmona, M. (2018). Place value: place quality and its impact on health, social, economic and environmental outcomes. Journal of Urban Design, 24(1), 1-48. DOI: 10.1080/13574809.2018.1472523