While the move to an AV world is already underway, WSP is at the forefront of on-going research into its full potential and broader applications. One area being studied is the potential implications on land use in dense environments, with AV expected to vastly reduce parking requirements that currently plague urban centres. Able to operate without a driver on board, AVs of the future will pick up and drop off passengers before moving on to other tasks. AVs fluid movements will reduce the volume of prime real estate traditionally designated for parking purposes, allowing city planners to build more densely.

“Each hectare of additional developable land is worth millions, and freeing up this land will create more viable developments that will increase housing and boost UK plc,” notes Rachel Skinner, Development Director with WSP. “Autonomous vehicles will be transformational and there is enormous potential for a new generation of living streets and communities, designed for vehicles, but putting people first.”


In a joint report published by WSP and Farrells, a London-based architecture and design firm, researchers make a strong case suggesting that the introduction of autonomous vehicles in the UK could free up as much as 15-20% of developable land, opening the door to billions in investment for new homes, workplaces and green spaces.

Titled Making better places: Autonomous vehicles and future opportunities, the report notes that parking spaces currently occupy 16% of London streets, or the equivalent of nearly 8,000 hectares, with traditional vehicles typically remaining parked 96% of the time. Given current real estate values in the city of London, the research suggests that a 100 hectare AV-only zone in the heart of the city could enhance land value by more than £1.25 billion.



Building on leading-edge WSP research into connected and autonomous vehicles, the report delivers five perspectives of what cities in the UK might look like in an autonomous vehicle world. The five perspectives include:

  • A dedicated AV zone;
  • City centres;
  • Suburban roads;
  • Highways;
  • Rural towns.

The report also presents compelling evidence to suggest that roads would become cleaner, greener, less cluttered and safer, with further land use implications foreseeable in the potential elimination of traffic lights, road signs and highway lanes.

WSP continues to advance the leading edge of global research into AV adoption, paving the way to improved mobility, a better quality of life and greater economic growth potential.

Read our White Paper: New Mobility NowRead our White Paper: Making Better Places

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