What does SAPC think about the Council's Parking Scheme design?
What's in the Council's Design Proposal?
Following the clear vote for the preparation of a parking scheme in the Surrenden Area in February 2020, the Council moved quickly to issue a second consultation on a design proposal.
In line with the outcome of the first vote, the proposal is for a light touch scheme, with parking controls in place for two hours per day, for five days per week, Monday to Friday. During the controlled hours, the great majority of parking spaces on most roads are proposed to be reserved for the holders of residents parking permits.
You can see the Council’s proposals here.
The Council’s second consultation closed on 14 August 2020. Residents again supported a scheme. In November 2020 the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee (ETS) decided unanimously to support a light touch scheme and to prepare a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) on that basis.
What does the SAPC think?
On 20 July, the SAPC Committee met to consider the proposals and we had a number of questions that we felt we should raise with the Council. These are as follows:
The scheme controlled hours are proposed to be from 9–10am and 2–3pm. SAPC asked whether the Council had modelled parking demand in our area and was clear that these hours offer us the best prospect of limiting demand for all-day commuter, tourist and overnight and long-term parking? Might different hours be a better bet? In relation to this issue, the November 24 ETS decision has made clear that the hours will be as originally proposed.
The scheme proposes to maintain staggered parking bays on Surrenden Road, with some bays adjacent to the central reservation. When these bays were initially introduced, they were justified as a traffic calming measure. The SAPC remains concerned that these bays have created a dangerous visual obstruction for hundreds of school children crossing this busy road. They have created a chicane that poses a traffic hazard for buses and emergency vehicles. With less vehicle storage and commuter parking in the area due to the scheme, we are asking the Council, do these dangerous bays need to stay?
Varndean College students and staff are a significant source of local parking demand. Just before the Coronavirus lockdown, the Council was considering a Green Travel Plan for the college, aiming to reduce the demand for car trips. What has happened to this proposal and has the parking scheme design taken it into account?
Is the scheme future proofed by addressing rising demand for electric vehicle (EV) charging points? The consultation proposal appears to show no more than two or three EV bays throughout. Surely this isn’t enough?
The scheme proposes to reserve bus stop clearway areas in the Friars, but the bus route has ceased. More spaces could be available, unless the route is proposed to be reinstated. Can the Council confirm it's plans?
An area of informal 90 degree parking spaces has been created on the verge at the bottom of Varndean Road verge. The scheme proposes a return to parallel parking in this location? Does this adequately address local demand?
A significant number of residents have concerns about whether they would be allowed to park on their crossovers. It will be important to get a definitive answer on this point, as the consultation paper does not make that clear.
A number of houses have garages that are too small, have a restricted turning area making them inaccessible for a modern car or are shared with a neighbour. We want the Council to clarify that where a garage is inaccessible, effectively un-usable or does not provide a guaranteed parking space, householders will be eligible for a residents parking permit in the first round.
The scheme does not propose a solution to the effect on residents of people parking to use Preston Park.
But were these the right issues?
We asked you to tell the SAPC what you thought we should be saying to the Council by 5 August 2020. Over 100 people responded. We used the detailed information that you provided to frame the recommendations that we have now sent to the Council. You can see our report here.
We know that many people are particularly concerned that they will not be able to apply for a parking permit straight away because they have an older or shared drive or garage, designed in the 1920s or 1930s, that cannot possibly accommodate a modern car off street. This issue really needs to be cleared up. We have prepared a draft policy that we say should apply to all older drives and garages that do not meet minimum standards of accessibility. Where this is the case, we say that residents should get a permit in the first round of any scheme.
What does the SAPC recommend?
We very much hope that the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) that the Council has now agreed to prepare to underpin the final scheme can include a creative design-based approach, providing solutions to address local needs. With this in mind, our recommendation to Councillors and Officers is as follows:
Review our recommendations to the Council before you finalise the scheme design; and
Take the issues that we have raised into account.
We hope that we have provided the information that Councillors and Officers need to ensure a responsive scheme design. We will update this article if any more information emerges from the Council.