Parking is often the single most emotive issue that can cause concern and distress in a local community. Pavement parking, obstruction of driveways and damage to soft landscaping and footways are just some examples of what can occur as a result of parking problems. In some cases, emergency or refuse vehicles are unable to pass as a result of obstructive parking.

In January 2011, the Coalition Government decided to remove the ceiling with regard to residential parking. The Government concluded that existing policies have directly resulted in an increased level of on-street parking consequently causing congestion and potential hazards for pedestrians.

While the emphasis remains on local planning and highway authorities to set parking standards for their areas, it is recognised that due consideration should be given to local circumstances, accessibility and local car ownership levels.

The recently published National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) echoes these sentiments with section 39 stating, “If setting local parking standards for residential and non-residential development, local planning authorities should take into account:

  • the accessibility of the development;
  • the type, mix and use of development;

  • the availability of and opportunities for public transport;

  • local car ownership levels; and

  • an overall need to reduce the use of high-emission vehicles”

Residential Car Parking Research (May 2007), a report published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) which supplemented the first version of PPS3, identified that car ownership levels can vary greatly depending on these factors:

  • Location of development
  • Size of dwelling

  • Type of tenure (private or affordable)
  • The type of dwelling (e.g. house or flat)

The report also identifies the 2001 Census data as a starting point to try to understand local levels of car ownership.

PTC carry out reviews of residential parking policy and standards for Local Authorities through reviewing local characteristics that impact on parking in line with government policies and identify appropriate standards. Any recommendations are based on a strong evidence base and this is made with data collection and analysis that can include review of statistical data such as Census, questionnaires and on site surveys.

Determining the appropriate level of overall provision will help establish whether the optimum number of parking spaces can be provided.  However, the type of spaces being provided (i.e. location, design, control and management) greatly influences the effectiveness of provision. Poor design can lead to problems that can be detrimental to pedestrian and road safety.

The perceived success of residential parking can often be determined by the design. Under-utilised on-site parking areas and congested on-street parking would indicate that the parking design was not effective.

With regard to the type of space provided, designers are faced with a number of options which include parking courtyards, tandem parking, allocated spaces, un-allocated spaces, on-street, garages, car-ports and driveway parking.  Most car owners like to be able to see their vehicles and to know that they are parked securely. It is therefore imperative that parking courtyards are overlooked and/or secured to ensure that residents are likely to prefer this to convenient ad-hoc on-street parking.

Parking provision should be appropriate to the location, based on local ward data, and not be detrimental to road safety and should not create additional pressure on existing streets that cannot be mitigated. Parking should not be over generous as this will be inefficient use of land.

Manual for Streets refers to a multitude of documents on parking design. ‘Car Parking: What Works Where’ by English Partnership is a toolkit that examines parking treatments and their effectiveness. This highlights the current design setting of providing rear parking courts that remove the parking from property frontages. Although this has left streets for the free movement of vehicles it has reduced garden sizes which are now used for parking, created streets that have little activity and reduced street width as residents who cannot see their vehicles in rear parking courts due to poor design choose to park on the street inappropriately. Developments should be flexible in how parking is provided balancing between on-street and on-plot.

 Pelham Transport Consulting, 3 Mill Hill Drive, Shoreham-by-se, West Sussex BN43 5TJ