Management of Parking in Residential Areas

Dear Local Plan Team (Wokingham Borough Council) 7th  February 2019

Management of Parking in Residential Areas

ACER, the Whitegates Residents Association, notes that the issue of parking, and in particular, parking in existing residential streets, is not covered in the local plan questionnaire.

Increase in parking demand due to property development

The increase in on-street parking is of particular concern to residents in Whitegates.

This increase in on-street parking is primarily caused by development of existing housing stock to accommodate more residents, while maintaining or even reducing the off-road allocated parking for that property. 

Former three bedroom properties are often extended to five or six bedrooms.  The amount of land available for allocated parking is often reduced as properties are extended and garages converted into residential accommodation.  The result is overspill onto the public highway and competing with existing demands of established residents in neighbouring properties.

MDD Reference tables

It is appreciated that the tables relating to parking provision  in section 1.12.4 of the Managing Development Delivery Document are useful to estimate parking provision for new housing estates.  When parking demand goes up in existing housing estates the on- street unallocated parking often gets taken up rapidly due to additional residents which were not allowed for when the older estates were built.

 To apply the same allocated parking provision of two vehicles for a residence converted from a 3 bedroom semi detached family home to a six bedroom HMO, plainly does not make sense, as at least four more vehicles associated with this ‘developed’ property require unallocated parking. There is normally only one unallocated space outside the property frontage, so the other three cars park outside neighbouring properties.  If, in the same street, several other properties are extended to incorporate more bedrooms with the same ‘ minimum requirement’ of two allocated parking spaces, yet more vehicles require unallocated parking provision. Very soon all unallocated spaces are taken up and the demand still grows, spilling into adjacent streets.

Visible degradation of streets

The impact of parking demand is very visible and has a detrimental effect on the streetscape and character of the area.  Routine and inconsiderate parking on grass verges turns these attractive publicly owned verges into unsightly rutted mud.  Dropped kerbs to facilitate additional parking in former front gardens both eliminates the grass verge and reduces the unallocated parking area outside the property. Front gardens are frequently paved over with every vestige of greenery removed including bushes and trees which were part of the original attractive streetscape which benefited all residents and passers-by. Dense parking on both sides of the road severely reduces the width of the road to a single lane which can be too narrow for fire tenders.

Properties can be developed and remain in character

The properties in Whitegates were typically built in the 1930’s and original properties would benefit from development.  ACER is in favour of development which is in keeping with the character of the area and which does not have a detrimental impact on neighbours. There are good examples of this approach in Whitegates. Strategic policy CP3 states that.. “..development must be appropriate to the area in which it is located and must be of high quality of design without detriment to the amenities of adjoining land users and occupiers.” 

Furthermore, page 11 of WBC ‘Borough Design Guide’, Section2, ‘General Principles’ refers to WBC Development Strategy policy CP3 and states that development has to be:-

  • Responding well to existing character and identity of area
  • Relating well to neighbours

There is a further requirement to provide soft landscaping in front gardens given over to parking, as stated in the section on ‘Garages and parking’ on page 57 of the Borough Design Guide, in order to maintain the characteristics of the area.

The uncontrolled growth of on-street unallocated parking demand is causing problems counter to policy CP3 and other related policies.

Control over Development and Parking Provision

ACER requests that the following changes are made in local government procedures under the current review in order to effect ongoing compliance with CP3 and related policy statements.

  1. Allocated parking must be based on the number of bedrooms in a property in a realistic way.  There should be space for one car per bedroom, which should include one unallocated space directly outside the property and one allocated parking bay for each of the remaining bedrooms. This is considered a reasonable minimum as most of the bedrooms submitted in plans are for double beds which implies two adults per bedroom, both of whom who may own or aspire to be car owners. There are instances in Whitegates of eight cars parking in the road where the property has been extended. This causes both parking problems for neighbours and their visitors and gives rise to resentment.
  2. Where front gardens are paved over to increase allocated off-road parking at a property, the clause requiring soft landscaping on page 57 of the Borough Design Guide should be compulsory and the requirements for soft landscaping must require bushes and/ or trees to be tall enough to be visible over the top of boundary fences and walls, to enable them to be seen my motorists driving down the street.
  3. Where dropped kerbs are installed to facilitate parking access, the grass verge should be protected by purpose made grids of stone and wire set into the grass verge.  These are widely used on the continent and are now available in UK DIY stores.
  4.  Where grass verges are destroyed by building contractors carrying out property alterations, it has to be made clear to the property owner that restitution of the grass verge is the property owners responsibility and that if the work is not done as part of the completion works, then Highways will notify the owner that they will carry out the work and the owner will be charged for the work.
  5. Where grass verges are habitually used for parking, resulting in the verge being turned into ruts of mud or losing most of the grass, advice notices can be placed on the car windscreens.  The notices must advise the motorist that the grass verge is a public amenity, and to either keep off the grass and reinstate this part of the public highway, or if the car owner is a resident of the property by the grass verge, then the property owner will be charged for purpose made grids of stone and wire set into the grass verge by Highways contractors. Usually the car is associated with the property it is parked outside, therefore it is feasible to charge the property owner who will doubtless seek recompense from the offending vehicle owner.

Conclusion

The issue of parking provision for properties undergoing development has to be taken seriously if neighbours are to live in harmony and attractive green features of this area of Wokingham is not to be lost forever.

The existing umbrella strategy policies and planning guidelines cover all the requirements ACER is requesting, but the rules for implementation need to be drawn up as official policies in order that Planning and Highways officers can implement these policies.

ACER appreciates your time in reading this letter and looks forward to a constructive response

Yours Faithfully

Tim Marsh

Chair, ACER Planning Sub-Committee