The city of Milton Keynes was invited by the UK National Infrastructure Commission to explore options for future spatial growth. Its Transport team, along with the Development Plans team, needed to test the impact of future scenarios (up to 2031 and 2031-2050) which placed growth in different locations and which included proposals for new road and railway infrastructure.
Integrated Urban Modelling
Through discussions with the Transport team, Space Syntax identified an opportunity to support this assessment process through the use of an Integrated Urban Model (IUM). By combining data on spatial location, land use, transport, health and other social demographics, Integrated Urban Modelling is a more comprehensive form of modelling than traditional transport approaches, yet done in a way that is typically much faster and lower cost.
Space Syntax had already developed an Integrated Urban Model for the entire Borough of Milton Keynes as part of the Tombolo project, an InnovateUK-funded joint research project with the Future Cities Catapult. This model was adapted to test the growth options up to 2050 focusing on the impact on socio-economic and transport infrastructure. A comparative evaluation was made between private vehicle and public transport convenience, demonstrating the strong advantages of private vehicle ownership in accessing employment and retail locations. From this it was possible to create a map of car-dependency in Milton Keynes.
The analysis was re-run with the future growth scenarios included to identify the impact of the proposed expressway and regional railway.
Space Syntax also tested access to social infrastructure facilities including schools and medical centres to understand the increase in demand on these facilities by 2050. We identified the gap in the existing coverage of social infrastructure due to a lack of public transport infrastructure coverage. We then forecast the consequence of this for the 2050 scenario if no improvements were made. This analysis helped identify locations for providing additional social infrastructure facilities.
Finally, Space Syntax assessed the increased traffic pressure on the existing road network in Milton Keynes. Using existing observed traffic data along with future flows that were forecast through spatial modelling, we identified streets which would be susceptible to high increases of traffic. This helped Milton Keynes council in its awareness of the problems it was likely to face and in developing solutions to address these needs by improving both road infrastructure and public transport facilities.
Space Syntax’s analysis identified an over-reliance on private vehicle transport in accessing local facilities. We identified the degree to which a modal shift from private vehicles to public transport was required if the goals of the 2050 growth plan were to be met.
Our work helped Milton Keynes council develop a public transport strategy to complement the proposals in the growth plan, and address the growth pressures the city is likely to face in the future.