Car Parking and Residential Development: Sustainability, Design and Planning Policy, and Public Perceptions of Parking Provision
A review of literature reveals that parking policy is currently influenced by a desire for environmental sustainability and improvements in urban design. Sustainability seeks to establish less reliance than previously existed on private car usage, for example by promoting compact urban development in areas well served by good public transport. Urban design policy promotes a departure from the 'roads first, houses later' philosophy (as dictated by many highway standards) to give precedence to the relationship between buildings rather than strict adherence to predetermined road design in new residential environments. A new design approach to car parking was heralded by influential reports from eminent practitioners (Lord Rogers' Urban Task Force of 1999) and commissioned research (the report by Llewelyn-Davies Consultants on Parking Standards in South-East England). This indicated that the previously adopted orthodoxy of minimum standards should be replaced by maximum ceilings (i.e. no more than one space per dwelling). Such a trend towards reduction of parking standards (and thus provision) is at variance with the projected growth in car ownership (set to rise to 30 million private cars by 2025). This research plots the recent evolution of UK Government policy on parking standards and design and considers recent innovations adopted both nationally and internationally in an attempt to deal with the private car. Review of the literature reveals a body of research and best practice coupled with a growing theoretical base grounded in 'new urbanism'. Research is presented that collates the opinion of owner occupiers in recently constructed speculative housing, in an attempt to understand 'customer' attitudes to both car ownership, by location, and the aspirations of government policy. The findings of such an opinion poll revealed that occupiers are reluctant to give up car parking provision. Even if they do not own a car (or use one infrequently and are therefore more likely to give one up), the very possession of a space is important in their perception of property value or investment. Beyond this qualitative study, examples of 'best practice' are presented that examine, amongst other things, car-reduced/car-free development and international work on both the accommodation and reduction of parking in residential environments.