Parking at the gasworks

(of strictly local interest)

This plan (comment deadline today) is for 1,700 flats, 4,000 square metres of retail / restaurant etc., and 7,500 square meters of office space.

1. Car parking

No parking for the retail or offices, because of proximity to transit – so far, so good.

The problem is residential parking. The outline applicaton, approved back in 2009, was for up to 251 car parking spaces. The current application is for 425 spaces. More parking means more traffic and it means higher building costs, and hence higher prices for the flats.

This site is perfect for car free development. The area has excellent public transport; it is within easy walking distance of both a large park, and diverse retail and consumer services. It also has highly congested roads and bad air quality: more cars will make these serious problems even worse. (For more on the problems of traffic in the Wood Green/Turnpike Lane area, and how they stand to be aggravated by high density development, see this post.)

Adding residents need not mean, and should not mean, adding more cars. A large share of the households within the area do not have cars as it is. Greater density of people and services (due to developments like this) will put even more of what you want within walking distance, and should mean fewer cars! The proposed underground parking would add greatly to the cost of a project, and thus raise the price of the flats. Hackney has done successful car free developments at sites with public transport far inferior to this one. Car free developments come without entitlement to resident on-street parking, so they don’t crowd out parking for current residents. There is, overall, surplus off-street parking in that area, and thus places where parking could be available to the new residents at a market rate. Car club parking is already provided for in the plan, as it should be.

The best plan would be to have no resident parking in the new development. I don’t know if any of the original 251 places can be clawed back by the Council at this point, but it certainly should not approve any new ones!

2. Bicycle parking.

The plan proposes 3,065 cycle parking spaces, in line with current guidelines. I cannot make out where those spaces are – the document refers to an Appendix U, which I don’t find on the council’s site. Most of these are resident spaces. Those in the “northern quarter” are “at basement level, within dedicated cycle stores”; whether that is acceptable would depend on how convenient and safe access to the is, both on foot and by cycle. Those in the “southern quarter” are described as being “at ground floor level both internally and also externally within the landscaping”. “Internally” sounds like it means inside the residences; if that’s so, then the cycle parking is just part of undifferentiated storage inside flats and, given the limited storage capacities typical of modern British home building, effectively means no cycle parking at all in many cases. Again, I can’t know, because I don’t have Appendix U. However, the Council should takes steps to ensure that the promised cycle parking is convenient, safe, and really available for cycles.

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