How we did it ... Cornwall retains beauty with park-and-ride site

Project: An award-winning £6.5 million park-and-ride scheme for 1,200 cars on the outskirts of Truro in Cornwall.

Truro park-and-ride
Truro park-and-ride

Background: Truro's population of 21,000 was expected to grow by a third in 11 years and there were fears about the level of traffic that the city would experience. A park-and-ride scheme was seen as the solution to averting traffic congestion.

Who is behind it? Cornwall Council, Cornwall Environmental Consultants, the South West Regional Development Agency, the DCLG and Cormac.

Project aims: To significantly reduce the number of cars travelling into Truro while ensuring that the project had minimal impact on the surrounding natural environment.

Skills involved: Project management, landscaping and environmental expertise, traffic management.

In its first year the Park for Truro park-and-ride scheme reduced the number of car journeys into the Cornish city by a massive 170,000. It is therefore succeeding in its aim to alleviate the growing problem of traffic congestion.

Although Truro has a population of only 21,000, it attracts a large number of workers due to its important role as an administrative centre. With 20,000 workers already travelling into the city daily, and the city's population projected to rise by a further 7,000 over the course of a decade, severe traffic and high pollution levels loomed on the horizon.

Add to the equation the fact that many people living in rural areas of Cornwall rely on their cars to travel around the county and a park-and-ride scheme was seen as a good way of avoiding the expected vehicle invasion. The strategy was developed after a transport study was published by the former Cornwall County Council in 2003.

In a city with such attractive countryside on its doorstep the challenge was to develop a scheme that would serve its purpose but would also blend in with the surrounding rural landscape. Five sites were initially identified as possible locations.

These were whittled down to a shortlist of two before a feasibility study carried out by Cornwall Environmental Consultants (CEC) selected Langarth Park. The necessary funding of £6.5 million was then sourced from the former county council, the South West Regional Development Agency and the DCLG.

The project team used PPS9 as the foundation for its design approach, with the aim of achieving the highest standards of biodiversity. Planning approval was granted in August 2007 and construction began in November that year. The scheme was partially finished in July 2008 in time to cope with the summer holiday influx of visitors, before being finally completion a year after work started. It comprises 1,209 spaces, with designated places for disabled people and those with children within easy reach of the reception building.

CEC senior landscape architect Birgit Hontzsch told Planning that minimising the car park's impact on the surrounding area was particularly challenging. "The rounded shape of the site led to difficulties in making the car park fit. We wanted to ensure that no slopes were steeper than one in three," she said.

Existing hedgerows and trees were retained and 30,000 shrubs, 65,000 plants and climbers and 2,000 more trees were added. Other eco-features saw tonnes of road planings from other construction sites in Cornwall reused and pipes and parking bays made from recycled plastic. Very little soil was taken off site.

Solar panels, rainwater flush toilets and underground heat sources all feature in the site's office. The buses carrying passengers into central Truro are low-emission vehicles. In recognition of these green features, the project won a Civil Engineering Environmental Quality Assessment award.

The Park for Truro scheme proves that even a basic transportation project can attain the best standards in design and result in minimal impact on the environment.

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