Ban on Pavement Parking?

You may be aware that London has now banned parking on pavements.  The Government is considering expanding the scheme nationwide in England.  Of course, there are significant differences to living in London with accessible public transport and less need for car ownership compared with most parts of the country.  In a nutshell, three basic options are proposed:

1. Carrying on as now with Police being responsible for dealing with parking problems;

2. Moving responsibility for Enforcement to Local Authorities;

3. A nationwide ban on parking on pavements, to include grass verges but exclude less densely populated areas where the speed limit is above 40 mph


Please find below, the response by ACER to the Government consultation on Parking.

HM Government “Pavement Parking:options for change” consultation  Response by ACER, The Whitegates Residents Association November 2020

Whitegates

Whitegates, is a suburban ward of Earley, just to the east of Reading, Berkshire, but lying within Wokingham Borough. It comprises mainly 1930’s housing with some recent infill and a major new residential development in the south. Whitegates extends northward into the attractive Thames Valley floodplain with the River Thames at the northern boundary, plus two business parks hosting Microsoft’s European HQ, Sanofi and Oracle Corporation. The area is well served with local retail, and a thriving shopping centre within easy access. The area has good public transport links to Wokingham and Reading plus primary and secondary schools. Whitegates’ proximity to Reading has, however, led to rat running through narrow residential roads, some of which have become commuter car parks.

Erosion of Green Suburbs due to Parking

It is ironic that the current promotion of suburbs with foliage, gardens with trees and grass verges was a key component of Whitegates when it was constructed in the 1930’s.   Although houses were typically provided with driveways, accommodating increasing numbers of cars has become a major threat to the green features, including the loss of front gardens and trees plus the ruination of grass verges.

ACER’s view on Pavement Parking consultation document

ACER’s view on the Options under consideration are as follows

Option 1:–To Continue with an upgraded version of the current system of Traffic Regulation Orders(TRO) as required, with parking enforced by Police, as at present. 

ACER views Option 1 as slow and virtually unenforceable as the Police are usually too busy to attend.

Option 2:  To Continue with the existing system, but move the Enforcement to Local Authorities, who can direct Traffic Wardens to attend reported problems.

 ACER views Option 2 as unlikely to solve most day to day problems, as cars will still park on pavements and grass verges and only in exceptional circumstances will car owners ever be ticketed.

ACER agrees with the Consultation assessment that ‘warning notices’ will be issued instead of a fine, due to the difficulty of proving the legality of ‘unnecessary obstruction of the pavement’ This subjective rule will prevent fines being issued, due to likely appeals from vehicle owners.

 ACER is concerned that as Option 2 is probably the cheapest option for Councils to bring in, it will find favour, despite being of limited effectiveness. This relatively cheaper cost would be due, a) to the revenue from parking fines offsetting the cost of traffic wardens, and b), Option 2 does not require any costly road alterations to define parking bays as in Option 3. 

Option 3: To Introduce a National Pavement Parking Prohibition which would make it illegal for anyone to park on the pavement.  Local councils will have to decide where exceptions can be made and to mark out parking limits on wide pavements and provide parking bays where practical.  Exceptions would be made for delivery and emergency vehicles.  It is likely that these restrictions would only apply to built-up areas which have a speed limit of 40 mph or less.

ACER views Option 3 as the only option which has the potential to unblock our pavements and preserve our grass verges, provided parking on both pavements and grass verges is banned under this legislation.

Implications of Option 3: The adoption of Option 3 would typically introduce alternate marked parking bays on just one side of the street on most of our local streets to prevent the roads becoming too narrow for two-way traffic and emergency vehicles. The chicanes caused by alternate parking bays would act as a natural deterrent to speeding.

Disadvantages of marked bays to Streetscape: On-street parking bays will, however, inevitably reduce the availability of on-street parking, due to parking usually allowed only on one side of the street. This will put further pressure to lose the remaining green front gardens in favour of car parking bays, plus loss of grass verges due to more dropped kerbs to allow parallel parking in front gardens.

Offsetting the disadvantages:  Firstly, there needs to be robust planning rules in place, to preserve soft landscaping in front gardens and also retention of grass verges, e.g. by the use of inset grids. Secondly, there needs to be a robust planning rule in place to increase off-road allocated parking provision as properties enlarge to greater occupancy levels, with inevitably greater car ownership per household.

High Initial Cost of Option 3:  Defining and marking out new Parking bays on most residential streets will have to be phased in over a number of years as money and resources via Local Government becomes available. A case can be made for Central Government funding, but this is highly unlikely to cover 100% of the inevitable costs.

ACER is in favour of Option 3 in principle, but it needs to be coordinated with Planning policies and with significant Government funding as described above for it to become an acceptable reality.

Tim Marsh

Vice Chair

ACER, The Whitegates Residents Association

chair@acerwhitegates.org.uk