Sustainable Urban Land Use and Transport Modelling and Policy Impact Case Study - 26-06-13
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Cambridge
Unit of AssessmentArchitecture, Built Environment and Planning
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Economics: Applied Economics
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration
Summary of the impact
A series of research projects, between 1994 and 2013, developed
innovative land use and transport models to provide an evidence base for
urban decision-making. They have impacted the planning of cities around
the world, in particular the industrial declining city of Bilbao, Spain,
now heralded as an exemplar of renewal; the planning of the developing
world city of Santiago, Chile, now an exemplar of modernity; and the
expansion of the knowledge-based city of Cambridge, UK, now an exemplar of
sustainability. This research continues to contribute to planning policies
around the world.
The research by Echenique (Professor since 1993) and others, including
Jin (University Lecturer since 2008) and Hargreaves (senior Research
Associate since 2002) from the Martin Centre in the Department of
Architecture, has significantly increased the understanding of how cities
work and the interaction between land use and transport planning.
The basis of this work is the innovative application of spatial economics
to the practical implementation of integrated models of land use and
transport infrastructure for use in real world problems at urban and
Unpicking the research from impact is somewhat challenging here; this is
a case of continual interaction, with insight feeding through to practice
and experience and feeding back to refine research problems. Pre-period
there have been three spin-out companies, Marcial Echenique & Partners
Limited (ME&P), Marcial Echenique S.A. (MECSA in Spain) and Transporti
e Territorio SRL (TRT in Italy) which have been key to this interaction
between research and practice.
The special issue of Environment & Planning B edited by Owers and
Echenique (1994)1 is devoted to the work originating with
Echenique's group. It includes
- The model of London and the South East Region (LASER) presented by
Williams and developed for the UK Department of Transport by Marcial
Echenique & Partners Ltd (ME&P) — a spin-out firm from the
University (later bought by WSP Consultants).
- Burgos presentation of the Model of the Basque Country developed by
Marcial Echenique y Compañía S.A. (MECSA later bought by PROINTEC) of
Spain which has been instrumental in the renewal of Bilbao as well as
many applications in Spain.
- A description by Prof de la Barra of the development of TRANUS, a
model which derives from the work of Echenique, developed by Modelistica
of Venezuela with successful applications for planning policies in the
USA (Oregon, Sacramento, Baltimore, etc.), South America and Europe.
- Hunt's illustration of a model for Naples in Italy which led to the
creation of the firm Trasporti e Territorio SRL (TRT) in Italy with
substantial work in planning (Naples, Vicenza, Bolzano, etc.).
- The paper by Simmonds presents another derivation of the same type of
model — DELTA, which had practical applications in a number of policy
studies in Edinburgh, Merseyside, Bristol,
- A paper by Jin illustrates the application of the software MEPLAN
(developed by ME&P) in China for the planning of transport.
Most of the above authors studied under the supervision of Professor
Echenique (beginning in the 1970s) or collaborated with him. Bringing
these strands together served not only to illustrate the applicability of
the integrated models, but to examine the difficulties in calibrating
models and testing underlying assumptions, particularly with respect to
Echenique's group used their approach to examine the development
possibilities for central Chile in 19942.
In the Cambridge Futures Project3,4, this research moved on to
consider strategic planning alternatives for the Cambridge sub-region.
This notably incorporated input from the public in testing model
assumptions — which has been held up as exemplary practice (see section
4). This also included consideration of the impact of congestion charging
in the city of Cambridge.
The SOLUTIONS project built on the Cambridge Futures Project, and carried
out case studies of three UK city regions to test the sustainability of
the planning policy trend over a 30 year period compared against the
alternative policies of compaction, planned expansion or dispersal 5.
Non-academic partners allowed use of their policy testing models
(developed by Echenique), notably the Departments for Transport and the
Communities and Local Government that jointly provided financial support
for option testing, and the Cambridgeshire County Council and the Tyne and
Wear local authorities. The subsequent ReVISIONS project (2008-12) funded
by EPSRC and EEDA explored how spatial planning affects the potential for
green technologies. It developed an enhanced version of MEPLAN extended to
include buildings, energy, water and waste.
A particular research output was the conclusion that land use allocations
and transport configurations will have little impact on reducing carbon
dioxide emissions over the next 30 years: the broadly different spatial
policies of dispersal or compaction make less than +5% or -5% difference
in energy use by transport5.
References to the research
1. Owers, J. and M Echenique, guest eds. (1994) Research into practice:
the work of the Martin Centre in Urban and regional modelling in Environment
and Planning B: Planning and Design 21 (5), September, pages
2. Echenique, M., Y. Jin, J.L. Burgos and A. Gil (1994) An integrated
land-use/transport strategy for the development of the Central Region of
Chile in Traffic Engineering + Control 35 (9), September,
pages 491-497. ISSN: 0041-0683
3. Echenique, M.H. (2005). `Forecasting the Sustainability of Alternative
Plans, the Cambridge Futures experience', in: ed. M. Jenks and H. Dempsey,
Future Forms and Design for Sustainable Cities, 113-133,
Architectural Press, Elsevier. ISBN: 0 7506 6309X
4. Hargreaves A.J. and M.H. Echenique (2008). `Cambridge Futures:
forecasting the effect of congestion charging on land use and transport',
in: ed. Richardson H.W. and C.C. Bae, Road Congestion Pricing in
Europe; Implications for the United States, Edward Elgar Publishing,
UK & USA. ISBN 978 1 84720 380 9
5. Echenique, M., A. Hargreaves, G. Mitchell and A. Namdeo (2012)`Growing
Cities Sustainably: Does Urban Form Really Matter?' in Journal of
American Planning Association (JAPA) 78 (2), pages 121-137 DOI
Research Grants with Echenique as PI
EPSRC GR/S90874/01 Sustainability Of Land Use and Transport In Outer
NeighbourhoodS (SOLUTIONS) ,2004-2009 £1.75M Cambridge, UWE, Leeds, UCL,
Newcastle. Cambridge coordinated the project, designed, modelled and
evaluated the alternative options.
EPSRC EP/F007566/1 Regional Visions of Integrated Sustainable
Infrastructure Optimised for NeighbouroodS (ReVISIONS) 2008-2012 £3.8M
Cambridge, Aberystwyth, Exeter, Leeds, Newcastle and Surrey. Cambridge
coordinated the project and designed the options and modelling framework
for land use, buildings and transport.
Details of the impact
MEPLAN software developed by ME&P from the work of Echenique has been
used extensively by the UK Government in LASER (London And South East
Region) model for London Crossrail, Thames Gateway, Congestion Charging,
and has become the core of the DfT National Transport Model4,.
Cambridge Futures has had impact on the planning of Cambridge3:
"It paved the way for a more positive planning strategy for Cambridge
which provided housing closer to where the jobs were being created, by
achieving higher densities on existing brownfield sites, a radical
review of the inner boundary of the Green Belt to provide urban
extensions, and a New Town to the north west of Cambridge connected to
the city by high quality public transport.
Cambridge's growth strategy has recently been described as `smart' by
the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and last week was praised by the
Planning Minister for its positive approach to achieving high quality
growth that is making a major contribution to the UK's economy. I have
no doubt that Cambridge Futures played a key role in initiating and
developing this strategy."
Director of Joint Planning for Cambridge's Growth Areas 2007-2011
(writing in 2013)
Prof Echenique was a member of the expert group for the Foresight Land
Use Futures exercise of 2010 whose "key findings and rich evidence
base continue to resonate with the change in ministerial priorities"10.
Cambridge Futures is an exemplar model in the final report5
(Box 7.2, pg 246) and underpins a priority recommendation:
"Consider the need for a duty on local planning authorities to consult
formally with local residents on options, benefits and trade-offs for
new forms of development. This should be based on detailed analysis and
evidence, as pioneered, for example, in the Cambridge Futures exercise."
The impact on Bilbao, and the Basque region more generally, has been
continuous over a long period. Decisions were made prior to and during the
impact period, infrastructure was built before, during, and is planned for
after — but infrastructure built prior to the impact period is still
contributing to the transformation of the Basque region to be the most
economically vibrant region of Spain today:
"The model was used in a number of studies for forecasting the impact
of alternative policies in the Area and their evaluation. The results of
these studies were key to the formulation of the policies implemented
over the years and have contributed to the transformation of the area
from a declining industrial city (closures of shipbuilding yards, steel
production, etc.) in the late 1980s to the successful city of today.
Today the Region where Bilbao is the centre has the highest income per
capita of Spain (in late 1980s was the 5th)"1
Former Technical Director of Metropolitan Area of Bilbao and Deputy
Transport Minister of the Basque Government
The infrastructure for which the model was used1 include:
- Construction Plan for Bilbao Metropolitan Railway. Lines 1 and 2.
Planned in 1990s and completed in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Line 3 of
Bilbao Underground. Currently under construction
- Left Bank Highways. Planned and opened in the 1990s.Right Bank
Highways. Planned in 1990s and opened in the 2000s.
- Traffic Study for the Central Area of Bilbao. 1990
- New high-speed railway network in the Basque Country. Planned in 2000s
- Artxanda Tunnels (toll road). Planned in 1990s and opened in 2002.
- Railway plan of Metropolitan Bilbao. Under development.
The model was also used to inform planning policies current in force in
Getxo and in Leioa, Municipal Authorities within Greater Bilbao1.
The process in Chile, and in particular Santiago, has been similar:
"The model was used in a number of studies to forecast the impact of
alternative policies in the area and their evaluation. The policies have
been implemented... and contributed to the transformation of the area
from a developing world region to a developed world region...
"Chile has multiplied by 5 the per capital income over the past 20
years and [since 2010] is a member of OECD. The work of the teams who
work in Chile, based on the theoretical work developed at the University
of Cambridge has contributed to make the Country and the Central Region
a successful region and world exemplar"2.
Ex-minister for Public Works, Chile
The studies in question included2 the Macro plan for the
central region which made the case for investment in highways, ports,
airport, water and sanitation (implemented); and the motorway plan for
Santiago (implemented). A key feature was that the model provided
confidence to the private sector to invest:
"It is of particular note that the infrastructure has been
substantially developed by the private sector under the principle that
the user pays for it. The consequence is that the level of taxations has
remained low encouraging the development of the productive sector of the
Finally, Echenique's results on urban form, particularly the failure of
compaction to generate a reduction in energy use are informing policy and
professional debate, including discussion in Parliament and the
professional press6,7,8 including the highly influential
Atlantic Cities9. It has also sparked an enormous debate11
in the US about the role of planning research in challenging widely held
planning assumptions — or indeed beliefs.
Sources to corroborate the impact
- Letter from former Technical Director of Metropolitan Area of Bilbao
and Deputy Transport Minister of the Basque Government
- Letter from ex Minister for Public Works of Chile
- Letter from Director of Joint Planning for Cambridge's Growth Areas
- Email from Former Head of Modelling DfT, (now Deputy Director,
Strategy and Analysis at High Speed Two)
- Government Office for Science (2010) Land use Futures: Making the
most of Land in the 21st Century. Foresight Final Project Report,
Government Office for Science, Feb 2010, http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/foresight/docs/land-use/luf_report/8507-bis-land_use_futures-web.pdf
- Terence Bendixson (2009) The Government's compact city policy is
failing — we need a new wave of suburban development in Local
Transport Today, Issue 523, 3rd July 2009
- Sir Peter Hall, (2009) Planners may be wasting their time in Regeneration
& Renewal, 6 July 2009
- Anthony Fyson (2009) Challenge to land-use planning in shaping
sustainable urban expansion frameworks in Planning magazine, 10
- BIS assessment of impact of Foresight impact (Land Use Futures),
- Cox, Wendell Separation of church and urban planning in New
Geography (6.12.2012) http://www.newgeography.com/content/003291-separation-church-and-urban-planning