Change of approach to parking spaces in new Northampton housing developments could solve chaos

Parking in Northampton
Parking in Northampton

Changes could be coming to how many parking spaces are provided at new homes in Northampton after the council admitted the current approach has backfired.

Northampton Borough Council says the push for people to use more sustainable methods of transport by limiting the number of spaces on new housing developments has caused chaos for residents.

So the authority wants to make sure developers build enough spaces, as well as provision for larger vehicles, electric cars and adequate bicycle storage - and wants to know what the public thinks.

Cabinet member for planning, Councillor James Hill, said: “Accepted wisdom has for some time been that a limit on the amount of available parking would lead to a reduction in car use.

“This was clearly done with the best of intentions but has caused a variety of issues, particularly a profusion of inappropriate on-street parking.

“Cars can often be found blocking pavements, obstructing pedestrians, or clogging streets to the extent that they would prevent access for emergency services vehicles.

“For this reason, we are proposing a different approach for new developments to ensure parking arrangements help to avoid these issues."

Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Northampton North, Steve Miller, welcomed the increased focus on charging for electric vehicles and safe parking for bicycles, but believes the changes are 'highly skewed' towards car drivers.

“This should hardly be a surprise to a borough council that has, over the past eight years, removed pedestrianised zones from the town centre, halved the size of the bus station, and spent thousands subsidising free parking when it could have been putting those funds towards active transport," he said.

"Even now, they are pouring money into building new roads like the North West Relief Road, when they could be using that money to support a comprehensive public transport network across the town.”

“At a time when the could be issuing supplementary planning guidance insisting on energy efficiency for new builds, they are instead issuing supplementary planning guidance insisting on more parking spaces for new builds.

"This seems to me to be a retrograde step and one that is incompatible with the council’s stated aim for Northampton to be carbon neutral from 2030.”

A council spokesman said the decades-old approach accepted by councils across the country to parking spaces does not work without 'adequate alternative sustainable provision', which is compounded by an unprecedented level of car usage.

In some places, this has resulted in inappropriate parking which can cause significant issues for communities across the town, the spokesman added.

Mr Miller blamed Northamptonshire County Council cuts to bus subsidies and highways maintenance for people not using 'alternative' options to driving, as the roads are putting off cyclists.

The council has produced a supplementary planning document to address some of the root causes, including making sure parking spaces at HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) are individually accessible.

An eight-week consultation on the document opens on August 8, after it was agreed by the cabinet on Wednesday, July 24.

Further details will be available on the council's ‘current consultations’ page, and a copy of the supplementary planning document can be found here.