Thursday, 7 October 2010

Car Parking

The parking situation in the city is desperate!

The root of the problem is that we have not yet, as a society, come to terms with the fact that cars exist and that a very large proportion of households have one or more. We need roads to drive them on and we need places to park them, when we are at home, when we are at work, and when we are at play. It is no use burying our collective heads in the sand, and hoping that they will somehow disappear. Once we recognise that cars must be provided for, then a number of things become clear:
  • The council could prevent the situation from getting any worse by requiring all new development to provide two off-road parking spaces for each household. OK - some households might only want one car, so they can put pot plants on the other space until they change their minds or sell the property on. There are a number of flats in the city that were, I understand, deliberately built with no parking in the misplaced hope that they would be bought by people without a car. How crazy is that? 
  • The model used at The Brooks and Waitrose/Friarsgate could be extended to all future developments: i.e. put parking underneath buildings. 
  • Surface car parks could (after having another layer added underneath them) be dedicated to nearby housing that is without spaces - the Chesil Street surface park, for example, could serve Chesil Street itself and Wharf Hill. It could be landscaped with shrubs and made to look quite pleasant. I've seen this model is in many French towns, and it seems to work well.
There would still be a huge number of streets lined with cars - a legacy of earlier planning mistakes. Getting rid of them would require something more radical: but we should at least stop things getting any worse.