England's Economic Heartland Future Visions — Study

Client
England's Economic Heartlands

England's Economic Heartland is a coalition of councils in the Cambridge to Oxford arc. It acts as a promoter of strategic infrastructure and as the region's sub-national transport body. It is focused on addressing barriers to growth, and connecting people and places with opportunities and services, in a way that delivers 'net betterment' in terms of impact on the natural and built environment.

5th Studio was commissioned to produce a series of four 'Future Visions' as part of England's Economic Heartland's Outline Transport Strategy: Framework for Engagement. The images imagined a business as usual and future vision scenario for two rural and two urban environments.

The images explore ways in which the use of technology and transport infrastructure can be used to better connect existing communities and enable new sustainable development. The visions include greenways, on-demand bus routes / shuttle pods and guided busways as ways through which car dependence can be reduced. Ideas about 'First Mile Last Mile' logistics also feature in consolidation centres and autonomous delivery systems. You can read more about the 'Outline Transport Strategy: Framework for Engagement' and comment on the proposals here.

Rural setting - Future Vision

Rural setting - Business as usual

Many smaller communities feel increasingly ‘cut off’ from nearby amenities, and often feel the only transport available to them is by car. Emerging technologies, changed travel demands and increasing pressure on the existing network is enabling new choices for rural communities. So what are the potential solutions, from ‘demand led transport’ to encouraging use of village hubs and active travel?

  1. Local Transport Hubs, at the centre of rural communities, gathering together other civic functions.
  2. Rural bus routes supported by digital interfaces and payment systems, supporting mobile payments and on-demand bus stops.
  3. High quality greenway routes connecting communities to surrounding transport infrastructure.
  4. Segregated cycle routes running parallel to local roads supporting the uptake of cycling in rural areas.
  5. Additional crossings to tackle the severances caused by busy roads and bypasses.
  6. Completion of a network of canal towpaths, with new bridges linking to villages, and new structures to overcome severances created by road building.
  7. Supporting development of brownfield sites within rural communities through improved public transport connectivity.

New Development - Future Vision

New Development - Business as usual

Transport plays a key role in realising new and thriving communities. The design of new homes brings the opportunity for innovation – so how do we ensure we make the most of this opportunity, rather than simply repeating the mistakes of the past.

  1. Attractive high occupancy rapid transit route, connecting to the rail network to relieve pressure on existing roads.
  2. Smart highways technology facilitating rapid public transit provision.
  3. Local hubs at the centre of new communities combining transport and civic functions.
  4. New transport hubs incorporating rapid transport, rail, local bus routes and cycling infrastructure.
  5. High quality greenway routes connecting communities to surrounding transport infrastructure and amenities.
  6. A network of urban quietway routes through new and existing communities, supporting the uptake of walking and cycling.
  7. Communities and urban extensions along the new transport route.
  8. Consolidation centres adjacent to the road network providing first mile / last mile logistics hubs.
  9. Driverless, on-demand delivery vehicles operating from consolidation centres to remove large vehicles from urban roads.

High Street - Future Vision

High Street - Business as usual

The challenges facing our high streets are well documented. What role can the transport system play in reinvigorating town centres by offering safer, greener and more attractive places for people to enjoy, ensuring high streets remain a central hub for urban communities?

  1. Highways redesigned to support local bus routes, freeing up the street section to support walking and cycling.
  2. New wider pavements allow for the inhabitation of the street space.
  3. Cycle lanes and associated infrastructure including parking and charging locations for ebikes.
  4. Introduction of SuDS and tree planting to respond to the challenges of climate change and improving air quality.
  5. Decluttering the streetscape of unnecessary signage and street furniture.
  6. Provision for local deliveries to be made by electric/H2 vehicles, providing FMLM logistics.
  7. Airborne delivery by drones.
  8. Supporting the uptake of local deliveries by electric cargo bikes.
  9. Potential for ‘parcel pipes’ to be integrated beneath carriageways.

Business Park - Future Vision

Business Park - Business as usual

The default, and sometimes only way of commuting to business parks is often by car, leading to vast areas of space given up for parking. What if we can reduce reliance on commuting by car? And how should we best utilise the space that’s been reclaimed from the car parks?

  1. Highways redesigned to support a reduction in private vehicles, freeing up the street section to support walking and cycling.
  2. Cycle lanes and associated infrastructure including parking and charging locations for ebikes.
  3. New wider pavements with permeable surfacing.
  4. Introduction of a system of on-demand shuttle pods connecting to local transport hubs/stations.
  5. Introduction of SuDS and tree planting to respond to the challenges of climate change and improving air quality.
  6. Removal of at grade car parking frees space for the creation of new public spaces, supporting markets, socialising and recreation.
  7. New mixed use buildings on the former car parks, introducing local shops, coworkspace and residential uses.
  8. Provision for local deliveries to be made by electric/H2 vehicles on side roads.
  9. Airborne delivery by drones.
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