London has had the quickest shift out of the car and onto bikes, buses, and feet of any city in the world. But now the Government’s rolling us back.
One of the achievements of the Greater London Authority is to have an integrated approach to making London a sustainable city. Car parking standards are one of the tools we have to encourage people to get around without cars. The London Plan sets out car parking standards which limit the maximum number of parking spaces for different types of development – offices, residential, and commercial. Keeping provision low, especially where there are good transport links, encourages people to rely not on cars but on walking, cycling, and public transport. People are even now choosing to live in car-free developments.
Yet in his response to the consultation on the Further Alterations to the London Plan, planning minister Nick Boles said that London-wide parking standards have to go.
The effect could be to reverse the trend in the modal shift we’ve seen over the last decade. Between 2000 and 2012, there was a 9.2 percentage point net shift away from private transport, resulting in 2 million less car driver trips in 2012. This makes London a healthier and more liveable place, whilst reducing congestion for those vehicles that remain on the roads.
But the Government wants to London to scrap this strategic planning policy. The result will be a free-for-all. Local authorities will undercut each other by offering developers as many car parking spaces as they can throw at them. This is the opposite of strategic planning, and the result will be a race to the bottom. It will take us back to the laissez-faire planning of the Thatcher era.
Parking standards have worked for London. Now this Government is telling us to get rid.