End of a daft rule

One of John Prescott's most ridiculous planning rules has been scrapped as part of a new year package by the coalition government designed to end Whitehall's war on the motorist.

This will allow local couhncils to make the judgement about what parking policy for new development best suits the needs of their area.

Despite famously driving "Two Jags" himself, John Prescott presided over a rule which forced councils to stop developers providing more than an average of one-and-a-half parking spaces per home in new housing developments. Even when the homes were of a size that they were likely to be occupied by a family of adults who might easily have two, three or even four cars between them.

Prior to this many councils had encouraged developers to provide off-street parking. New Labour reversed the policy, ordering councils to curtail the parking places provided with new development. The rules concerned were part of documents called PPG13 (Planning Policy Guidance Note 13), and PPS3 (Planning Policy Statement 3), and in my hearing even one of Labour's Junior ministers referred to them as "mad" or words to that effect, at a meeting with senior planning councillors.

In many parts of the country this idiotic rule exacerbated parking chaos and removed a brake on overdevelopment. Now I am delighted to say that the new government has scrapped it. Local councils will have the freedome to decide whether they need to encourage developers to provide parking or not.

This change will help Copeland where councillors of all parties have identified a need for more executive homes to help both public services including the NHS, and the nuclear industry, to attract key personnel to come and live in the area.

Changes to the same national planning restrictions which required councils to limit the number of parking spaces allowed in new residential developments will also free councils from the requirement to set high parking charges to discourage the use of the car.

The Government believes these rules unfairly penalised drivers, led to over-zealous parking enforcement, and increased unsightly on-street parking congestion - putting the safety of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians at risk.

From now on, councils and communities will be free to set parking policies that are right for their areas. This could include taking into account the effect of parking charges on the vitality of their local economy and local shops. Councils wanting to attract shoppers through setting competitive local parking charges in town centres will now be able to do so without interference from Whitehall.

The Government has also announced it wants councils to promote electric vehicle charging points in new developments to encourage more green drivers, without making developments unaffordable. As part of this Ministers have announced their intention to allow charging points to be built on streets and in outdoor car parks without the need for planning permission.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said:

"Whitehall's addiction to micromanagement has created a parking nightmare with stressed-out drivers running a gauntlet of unfair fines, soaring charges and a total lack of residential parking. The result is our pavements and verges crammed with cars on curbs endangering drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, increased public resentment of over- zealous parking wardens and escalating charges and fines.

"Today the Government is calling off Whitehall's war on the motorist by scrapping the national policy restricting residential parking spaces and instructing councils to push up charges. We expect councils to follow suit. From now on communities have the freedom to set competitive local charges that bring shoppers to the high street, proportionate enforcement and the right number of spaces for new development. We're getting out of the way and it's up to councils to set the right parking policy for their area."

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said:

"This is a key step in ending the war on the motorist. For years politicians peddled the pessimistic, outdated attitude that they could only cut carbon emissions by forcing people out of their cars.

"But this Government recognises that cars are a lifeline for many people - and that by supporting the next generation of electric and ultra-low emission vehicles, it can enable sustainable green motoring to be a long-term part of Britain's future transport planning."

Parking problems on new developments can cause knock-on effects to surrounding neighbourhoods. Spill-over creates street congestion that can cause blind spots for pedestrians, hinder emergency vehicles and lead to fly parking.

Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark added:

"Limiting the number of drives and garages in new homes doesn't make cars disappear - it just clogs residential roads with parked cars and makes drivers cruise the streets hunting for a precious parking space. That's why I'm pleased today to get rid of another daft, interfering rule that has only succeeded in annoying people."


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