News: 13 January 2017Map reveals the extent of Exeter's commuter reach

As the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan, which identifies the overall housing requirement and strategic growth until 2040, is based on the functional economic area of the region, we were interested to review the commuter patterns across the area. We wanted to establish to what extent the significant economic growth that Exeter has seen in recent years, had reached its surrounding rural areas.

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan is a new Spatial Plan that will be prepared jointly by the four local authorities of East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon and Teignbridge Councils. The Spatial Plan provides an opportunity for development to be better planned at a strategic level to identify the overall quantum of housing, jobs and infrastructure that is needed across the four local authority areas up until the year 2040.

Understanding how commuter patterns operate across this region is an important first step to plan for the needs of local people and businesses. Today, people are prepared to commute further for work, often between local authority boundaries, with Exeter drawing-in commuters from a much wider area than was the case 10 years ago, (for example, people now commute into Exeter from as far as Okehampton in the west, Tiverton and Bampton in the north and Honiton to the east). Analysing commuter patterns, therefore, provides a valuable insight, allowing new homes and employment to be planned in the most sustainable locations that reduce the need to travel and promote economic development.

Whilst this is good news and showcases the economic success of Exeter, it is important that the local authorities continue to plan positively for their residents, providing homes in the most sustainable locations, closer to places of work and where development will help support and promote economic development of the region.

The Exeter commuter and access map was conceptualised using GIS and modern 3D modelling techniques. The graphic shows two sets of analysis; drive time catchments depicted by five-minute interval zones and commuter inflows into Exeter which are depicted by 3D extruded bars.

We analysed commuter flow data derived from the 2011 Census origin-destination tables for the built-up-area boundary of Exeter. The extruded bars represent the number of people travelling from the origin (output area geography) to Exeter and the taller and brighter bars signify an increased number of people commuting from that point. Zonal statistics were also calculated for each built up area to show the total number of people commuting.

In addition to this, GIS and routing analysis was used to calculate the drive time zones from the more built up areas. This was based upon the ‘Ordnance Survey - Open Road’ datasets and represents catchments in increments of five minutes.

The map confirmed that the commuter belt for Exeter is growing significantly, demonstrating a clear economic need for more homes in Exeter to support this growth and provide for a more sustainable pattern of development. 

Click on the map to enlarge

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Development Economics, South West, GIS, Research, Bristol