Planning rules still geared to cars

This weekend, I visited a friend of mine up North who has a house she is building in Sheffield. It is just the sort of infill that helps makes cities more dense, a spare plot in an already built up area that is served by public transport.

So far so good. But then she told me that in order to get planning permission, the house had to have off street parking for two cars and, that there had to be sufficient space for the cars not to be have to reverse out into the street – they had to be able to have enough space on her plot in order to be able to turn round.

This shows the extent to which that a sustainable transport agenda is still mere verbiage in politicians’ speeches but nowhere near becoming a reality. The whole point about urban development is that it should be possible to live in towns without being car dependent. Yet, the planners are ensuring that the costs of housing are increased to accommodate cars which the politicians say we should be using less. In just one small example, the whole contradiction of government policy can be found.

As John McEnroe said so famously, ‘you cannot be serious’. If the government really is trying to move towards a sustainable agenda, it should have tackled these sort of micro issues years ago. In any case, everyone reverses out of their drive – it is perfectly safe provided people are driving at a reasonable speed, another reason for adopting a wider 20 MPH speed limit in residential areas. Joined up government? Pah.

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