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I Like Driving in My Car: Planning and Transport Policy

Posted on 5 July 2017

I Like Driving in My Car: Planning and Transport Policy

Planning for universal car ownership is considered by some policymakers to be just madness. Just how do we plan to get around in future decades?

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has revealed two transport-related proposals last month. Newly elected city mayors across the country will also be drawing up their thinking on the matter.

The mayor's new draft transport strategy will strengthen existing restrictions on car parking in new developments.  The expectation is that areas well served by public transport will become completely car-free.

Cycle storage at residential dwellings and the roll-out of more places to park them in town centres will only go so far.  Providing underground railway transport links, even with the Mayor's other announcement of new mayoral CIL for Crossrail 2, will still be a long and expensive process.

Eliminating on-site car parking spaces is relatively easy through the planning process. Preventing off-site car parking can be problematic, especially when there is no residents' parking zone.

In practice, most of the areas where car-free development would be encouraged will fall within a controlled parking zone (CPZ). The creation of new housing automatically gives rise to a right to a parking permit with no ability under CPZ Rules to restrict the right based on the date of construction of houses.

There have long been doubts about whether a section 106 planning obligation can be used to restrict parking permits in a new development.  In the recent case of R (Khodari) v Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the Court of Appeal went a long way to resolving these doubts.  The court ruled that a properly worded obligation will be valid, enforceable against successors in title and, crucially, can lawfully be taken into account when granting planning permission.

The court based its decision on powers found in the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1974 which applies only in the capital.  Outside London, some authorities may have their own private Acts of Parliament to similar effect, but this cannot always be relied on. Careful drafting will be needed to secure lawful and meaningful controls without being unmanageable for residents.

An innovative approach has been used recently by Moda Living in Manchester, where tenants were encouraged to forgo parking spaces in return for a £100 monthly UBER credit. This seems like a logical extension of the Car Club membership schemes as used at several sites in recent years.

For certain target demographics, such arrangements can be made to work well in the right location. There will still, however, be areas of the country where off-street parking for two cars will remain common for many years to come.

There is still time to get involved in the debate. Consultation on the Mayor's draft transport plan closes on 2 October and consultation on the Mayoral CIL 2 runs until 7 August.

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