Two major challenges for London are housing and transport

6.8 million car parking spaces in London take up at least 78.5 km sq, based on the minimum parking space. When land for housing is in short supply and cars are greedily sucking up space, we have an escalating crisis.

So it is encouraging to see the Mayor of London’s draft London plan  set the ambition to reduce car dependency and use space more efficiently. This is what the Mayor calls ‘Good growth’.
The Evening Standard  reported that Sadiq Khan had unveiled plans to Ban Parking Spaces from new London homes and office blocks in an attempt to cut car use in the capital:

“If you buy or rent a home in London and make regular journeys to the work or shops, I want to see safe and secure cycle parking available for every journey, across all parts of the city. For too long our housing and infrastructure has been built solely around the car”, the Mayor explained. Car parking spaces for disabled people are to be be prioritised and cycle parking will be increased.

This is exactly what we need.

The real story is hidden in the detail

Policy T5 Cycling is not as ambitious as we were lead to believe. This table,  kindly supplied by Ecocycles, compares the current London Plan with the new draft plan for Cycle Parking Standards for Office Buildings. In this context the numbers seem stagnant or lacking in ambition.


Meanwhile Table 10.2  sets out minimum residential cycle parking. This is clearly not generous enough, especially for dwellings with 2 bedrooms or more. I couldn’t find any mention of parking provision for cargo bikes or customised trikes and recumbents? Short-stay visitor parking of 1 cycling space per 40 units seems derisory.

Ambient cycle parking is not mentioned in the draft London Plan. Stop Killing Cyclists have estimated that we need 60,000 across Greater London.

 The London plan states that ‘Development should facilitate and encourage cycling, and reduce car dependency and the health problems it creates’. These cycle parking standards must be redrawn to reflect that admirable vision.

Table 10.2 – Minimum cycle parking standards

Use Class Description of use Long-stay (e.g. for residents or employees) Short-stay (e.g. for visitors or customers)
C3-C4 Dwellings (all) 1 space per studio, 1.5 spaces per 1 bedroom unit, 2 spaces per all other dwellings 1 space per 40 units

The high cost of residential car parking

Policy T6.1  Residential parking states:

F. The provision of car parking should not be a reason for reducing the level of affordable housing in a proposed development.

This makes the crucial point that car parking diminishes the ability to make full economic and socially inclusive use of prime land. Residential car lots and spaces make individual units less and less affordable for tenants. They also result in fewer units as a whole, meaning the supply of housing across the city is reduced. That too hikes up rents over time, as Boroughs run out of sites to develop.

This table in the draft London Plan sets out maximum parking provision for residential units. Whilst CAZ is car-free, parts of inner London and Outer London have maximum car parking of between 0.25-1.5 per unit. If the Mayor achieves the increase from 29,000 homes a year to 66,000 per year, we can anticipate a significant rise in the number of car parking spaces in London. This runs totally counter to the Mayors ambition to reduce car dependency. And how much potential floor space will be lost to more car storage?Table 10.3

CTAL the new tool that could make car-free development possible across all parts of London

The public Transport Access Level (PTAL) is a measure of access to public transport across London. Each area in London is given a PTAL value between 0 and 6, based on the number and frequency of public transport services that can be accessed by a short walk. Areas with higher PTAL values have better access to the
public transport network.

CTALs are based on the current geography of London. They show the current potential for cycling accessibility in an area but this potential might be unrealised without complementary infrastructure. For example, someone may live 15 minutes walk from a London Underground station in an area of low PTAL. But if a cycle route was provided linking them to their nearest London Underground station in less than five minutes on a bike, and additional cycle parking was provided, the CTAL could be realised.

The Cycling CTAL tool  must compliment or replace PTAL by unlocking access to public transport through active travel infrastructure.  This is outlined in the Strategic Cycling Analysis by Transport for London Page 40, 41, 42

This will enable carfree development throughout Greater London.


If you can’t ban cars, just take away the parking spaces

Transport in Oslo accounts for 61% of the city’s CO2 emissions – a full 39% of it coming from private cars. This despite Oslo having the world’s highest proportion of electric vehicles. In 2015, Oslo’s politicians decided the only way to meet its carbon targets was to ban cars from its centre.

Not surprisingly the car lobby resisted. So instead of an outright car ban, Oslo followed a tactical-urbanism approach to limiting vehicle movement through the city centre by simply removing all the parking spots from the area and building entire new residential towers that are expected to be car-free.

Car-free development is a vital policy and must cover all areas of London, We cannot cut emissions and achieve the Healthy Streets agenda by perpetuating damaging car culture. Car parking provision must no longer play a part in the London Plan.

Sadly green space, such as back gardens may be lost to new developments as suitable sites dry up. Once cemented over it is hard to reclaim this land. It is lost forever. Green cover is advocated as mitigation but this is not the earth. Does the Mayor really want to erase the earth for more car storage?

I believe we must have year on year targets to reduce parking spaces. Only by shrinking the car(bon) footprint that blights our cities, will we achieve a living environment we can be proud of.


Ground floor of Dalston Square. How many units of housing used for car storage?