So, the Kingsmead Neighbourhood Plan has been commented upon by all you lovely residents and also by various statutory authorities including Hertfordshire County Council and East Herts District Council. Mostly they have requested minor and/or sensible changes but one of the big disappointments is around parking where, due to the problems already caused in Kingsmead by lack of parking, KNP had included minimum standards for parking per dwelling which we have been instructed to remove from the Neighbourhood Plan.
Anyone that lives in Kingsmead knows that we are blighted by nuisance parking from Liberty Rise; this is not the residents of Liberty Rise's fault but the planners as the complex was built with less than one parking space per dwelling on the grounds that it was within walking distance of Hertford East Station. In a world where we all need to reduce our carbon footprint obviously individual car journeys need to be reduced reducing car parking where people can use public transport or sustainable travel is the goal but our two councils are putting the cart well and truly in front of the horse.
Why am I saying this? Well there are a number of factors in my opinion:
Hertford East has been promised a better service (3 trains an hour, less than a 55 minute journey to go circa 24 miles) for at least a decade but nothing has materialised
But, even if the service is improved this train line will only take you into London; if you work within or around Hertfordshire the train is not a realistic option.
Public transport options to travel to (say) St Albans from Pinehurst would involve travelling on the once every 1.5 hour or so bus from Pinehurst to North Road and then getting on the hourly bus from there to St Albans. The entire journey would take around 1.5 hours if all the bus connections work and over 2 hours if they don't. In addition to that if there are more than one person travelling the bus is more expensive than using a car
Medical, retail and other resource are all outside of Kingsmead. With the closure of Ware Road surgery residents of Kingsmead can need a car because they have to travel to Hoddesdon to visit a doctor and there are few alternatives. Equally if anyone wants to get to a hospital this will mean a long bus journey potentially involving two or three changes to get there
While there are plans (HERT) to improve public transport links on the east/west corridor across the county these are years away from fruition and no temporary solutions (eg additional buses that have a coherent timetable) are in place to provide for the short term until the plans are realised. So, we are in a situation where dwellings are being created with insufficient parking, leading to parking on pavements and reductions in road capacity (see Ware Road) due to parking, impacting on the attractiveness of cycling and walking due to the danger posed by all the parked cars and slowing down buses who find it difficult to navigate the reduced road space while measures to allow reduced car use lag behind by around a decade.
What's the solution? There is no easy solution and there needs to be a mixture of options; but, again in my opinion, we need to be:
Prioritising improvements to public transport and providing interim solutions while larger infrastructure is built rather than doing nothing until it is delivered
Making public transport low cost or free
Getting people onto the bus by promotions eg running 'shoppers special' buses on a Saturday to ferry people into Hertford for free or for a low cost (town for a pound maybe?)
Providing 'on demand' bus services
Tackling the problem of pavement parking from both a walking and cycling perspective by implementing solutions
Investing in new walking and cycling routes
Promoting car sharing and providing rewards for doing so (only little but my husband's employer has a scheme where car sharers get a free coffee/tea every day)
But, while all of this is being done the councils cannot just stick their heads in the sand and allow housing to be built that has only one (or less) car parking space per dwelling. We (as a collective) need to transition to a greener more sustainable lifestyle but this needs to be by making the sustainable alternative attractive not by taking away the option to park off road and further congesting our already overburdened travel routes. It seems that the councils are still trying to use the do as I say dictatorial approach rather than providing attractive alternatives that mean people chose the sustainable alternative because it is attractive.
I suppose the inclusion of minimum parking standards in the KNP would be in conflict with the EH District Plan and supplementary planning document, which presumably allow for the option of future, car-free developments?
I do agree that a reliable, regular, low cost public transport system is a prerequisite, or should at least be developed in tandem with the growing "squeeze" on private vehicle ownership.
Local residents are still struggling with the all the problems resulting from parking under-provision along Ware Road, six years on from the construction of Liberty Rise.
Hi Karen - it's a case of 'computer says no' as far as I can see. East Herts District Council has parking number allocations dependent on housing type/distance from a travel hub etc and this will be imposed no matter the impact due to the lack of alternative travel provision.
In my view it's the wrong approach as I tend to the 'if you build it they will come' view where if public transport is cheap, plentiful and easy (plus gives you a chance to meet up with neighbours etc) people will use it and ditto for pleasant walking/cycling routes (where you are not having to dodge vehicles/cross in places where views are obscured due to parking/ have to play squeeze past the parked car )
This is why KNP identifies improved/new off road/segregated routes in our plan (as do many other Neighbourhood Plans) and are already actioning some through KRA
But there will be a transition period, KNP will be in force until 2033 (assuming it passes the next legal hurdles) so the current KNP covers the transition period......
It would be interesting to know the rationale for the exclusion of minimum parking standards from the KNP?
This should become a local/government election topic because of indifference to communities.