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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge


Josh Grantham

Car-Free Development: The Role OF Density and Future Technology

In the past century, the automobile has completed changed the built environment beyond recognition. It has helped deliver economic prosperity and enabled mobility. However, this came at a high cost to society. Rising rates of air pollution, carbon emissions, and urban segregation are just a few examples of the detrimental effects of cars in cities. Regardless of these consequences, car-centric rhetoric dominates discourse surrounding the built environment with little discussion over the possibility of a paradigm shift. This dissertation investigates the spatial requirements of car-related infrastructure within UK housing developments of varying densities. It then questions the role of housing density and future technology in car-free developments and identifies the potential spatial gain by comparing existing practice against various theoretical car-free scenarios.

The research identifies that in a typical residential development around 35% of developable land is used for the provision of car-related infrastructure, whereas car-free scenarios require less than 22% of the land designated to hard infrastructure. Future technology offers the opportunity to significantly increase personal mobility and reduce the cost of public transport within the coming years. All of this allows us to take a step closer to creating sustainable car-free developments and cities in the perceivable future.