Friday, January 7, 2011

Lib Dems confirm loony parking policy

Today's Cambridge News carries confirmation from the Liberal Democrats running Cambridge City Council that they remain intent upon exacerbating Cambridge's parking chaos with every new development that is permitted.

Referring to not changing the current hierarchy of road users (pedestrians > cyclists > public transport > private motorists) Cllr Clare Blair said,
I think that makes sense in Cambridge because it is a historic city which is very constrained, but we do recognise that people need to use their cars.

What we need to do is provide for people to be able to use their cars where necessary, but to use alternative modes of transport wherever possible. I see this as an opportunity to look carefully at what we are doing and see whether it suits the needs of our residents.
But this is a classic straw man. No-one ever suggested changing the relative priority of road users - the most vulnerable types must come first and be promoted.

Frankly I can see no evidence that the Lib Dems do "recognise that people need to use their cars", despite driving them themselves; they seem to have an ideological obsession that leads them to make perverse decisions like that on limiting parking for new developments when they should instead be requiring it to safeguard our future infrastructure.

She has also missed the point by focusing on the use of cars rather than the possession of cars - it is good for car usage to go down but that doesn't mean that car possession rates should go down, and if it is at the expense of those of more limited means then it probably would be a bad thing, too. When people do have them they will park them, whatever it takes - it's a shame the Lib Dems are unable to grasp this simple fact of life.


Martin said...

Allocating more space for car parking isn't free: it surely pushes up the cost of the houses (and heavens, Cambridge is high enough already!) as fewer dwellings can then be built in the same land-take.

Really, I fail to see why large amounts of car parking are needed for developments in many parts of Cambridge. The idea, for instance, that the CB1 development needs much in the way of car parking seems madness. It is a major transport hub - exactly the kind of place where car-free access should be straight-forward.

Surely a requirement which should go along lower parkings standards is the mandatory provision of car club spaces, which reduce both the need for land take and for car ownership, while retaining car use for when people believe they have no alternative.

I agree there is an issue about developments resulting in ugly pavement parking:
but this to me seems like more of an issue about the delay a developer takes in the land being adopted by the Highway Authority, by which time bad habits of residents have set in, or expectations of residents have adjusted. Developers should make much clearer to potential purchasers at the outset that such space will have yellow lines applied and so people should not assume this public space is free for dumping private property in on a permanent basis.

Chris Howell said...

Hi Martin

I think the key problem here is that the current planning policy seeks to restrict parking spaces in new developments as a proxy for restricting car ownership and usage. That is loony to the extent that it ignores the reality of the situation and so completely fails in its objective - the desire for most people to keep and use their own personal motorised transport is so strong, they do it anyway, resulting in serious and unnecessary parking related problems for all types of road users. Problems caused by lack of parking were by far the biggest group of problems I had raised with me when I was a Councillor.

I would have no problem with planning imposing restrictions on car parking spaces if necessary to make a development work, but only if it was accompanied by regulation that ensured residents in those developments were prohibited from keeping or using personal cars in the area, and that regulation could be enforced. For example, I would like to see Mill Rd depot redeveloped for housing, but the local road infrastructure would struggle to cope with 'normal' levels of car ownership from a significant development, so it could be developed with significant cycling provision/access, a car share scheme and no private parking spaces - but _only_ if the property on site was let on tenancies with enforceable conditions that the occupiers must not keep or use a private car in the City. Such properties would doubtless achieve a lower market rent - thus improving affordability in an already extortionate market, and rewarding those who choose to live in Cambridge without using a car.

I think it is very short sighted to assume that in future we won't have sustainable personal motorised transport available, or that it will cease to be something people value highly and are prepared to pay handsomely for. So where new developments are on less constrained sites, if developers can demonstrate to planners that there is sufficient transport infrastructure of all types, they should be allowed to build housing with whatever parking provision they think their customers want and are prepared to pay for.


Chris Howell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cambridge Recycling said...

10 years ago, I'd drive into Cambridge near enough every other Saturday/ Sunday, park up and spend the day in coffee shops, designing websites on my Laptop and watching the world go by. However, the cost of parking has simply put me off the idea and I now use Ely and Peterborough for all my shopping. As for developments in Cambridge City that lack parking- why would any sane person by a property that lacks suitable parking? With cut-backs to funding for public transport (buses), i think I'll stick to a more rural location.