Thousands of parking places have been eliminated by councils around the UK in order to make way for street art, bike shelters, and flowerbeds.
Local authorities, who are the main force behind the trend, contend that cars unfairly dominate in high streets and town centers, while businesses worry that the change could spell doom for their industry.
Lambeth in south London intends to transform 25% of its kerbside parking spaces into elements that “enhance community” as part of a plan to mitigate climate change.
The council also intends to eliminate free parking spaces and double the price of parking permits, increasing their revenue from £6 million to £12 million.
The Labour-led council is not the only local government that plans to replace parking with “parklets” in the name of environmental responsibility.
Parklets have seen large amounts of pavement and parking places replaced with seating areas and flower beds. Parklets have been criticized for being “eyesores” and a “waste of taxpayers’ money.”
US-style parklets were constructed in British towns and cities during the pandemic.
In order to allow consumers to sit outside, councils allowed companies to erect seating areas on some pavement and occasionally on the side of the road.
Since then, drivers have expressed concern that parklets are the newest illustration of the erosion of their freedoms.
Hugh Bladon, founder of Alliance of British Drivers, a lobby group for motorists, told MailOnline back in 2020: “Councils all over the country, the one thing they hate is anybody using the car or any kind of four-wheeled vehicle.
“They will do anything they can to make it as miserable as possible for drivers.”
The council of Lambeth argues that the policy is acceptable because the quantity of parking spots does not “represent a fair or efficient use of space.”
330,000 people live in the Labour-led borough, 58% of whom do not own a car, but in Lambeth, 94% of the kerbside is set aside for parking.
By 2030, the ambitious Climate Action Plan expects at least 85% of Lambeth commutes to be made by foot, bicycle, or public transportation.
In the near future, officials want to eliminate all free parking spots in the borough and consult residents on Controlled Parking Zones.
According to the council’s updated plans, traffic in the borough must decrease by 27% by 2030.
Additionally, they want all Lambeth residents to reside within 50 meters of free bicycle storage in order to facilitate this.
Sadiq Khan’s £33 million Low Traffic Neighbourhood program, which has established cycling lane segregation and restricted turns at key crossroads, has also hurt drivers in the capital.
By bringing in low-traffic neighborhoods, Haringey Council has been accused of utilizing drivers as “cash cows” during the cost of living crisis.
Between August and November, drivers in the St Ann’s district of the north London borough received more than 32,000 penalty charge notices for driving on seven prohibited roads.
As it extends its network of low-traffic neighborhoods, Hackney Council plans to forbid the majority of vehicles from 75% of its roadways.
It authorized the introduction of six more of the controversial schemes over the ensuing three years.
With 19 LTNs already established, the east London borough already has the most traffic filters on half of its roadways.
The council in Birmingham likewise intends to reallocate space, possibly toward developments rather than parking.
A plan to perform a study into “introducing a workplace parking levy to invest in clean and green public transport” is also included in the Labour council’s programme for 2022–2026.
If there were a workplace tax, employees would have to pay to park at the workplace.
Their transport plan sets a vision for a ‘sustainable, green, inclusive, go-anywhere network’, which involves reducing parking spaces.
It explains how “active travel,” including biking and walking, will become the preferred method for getting around most of the time.
The document says that: ‘Parking will be used as a means to manage demand for travel by car through availability, pricing and restrictions.’
It states if ‘development potential exists’ on land occupied by car parking, then will be put to ‘more productive use’.
The price of council-run parking on the street and in council parking areas increased as a result of the council raising its council tax rates by 4.99 percent at the beginning of this month.
There are plans to remove 18 parking places from one of the main shopping districts in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, to make room for trees and benches.
One of the busiest retail areas in the town is James Street, but some landlords claim that part-pedestrianization will harm their bottom line.
According to a recent survey, 184 people believe the plan will drive customers from Harrogate to other towns or cities, and 104 believe the loss of parking spots will hurt local companies.
To thwart the scheme A trade group called Independent Harrogate, which has 161 members, gathered $500,000 for a potential judicial review.
The group’s website says it is ‘broadly in favour’ of plans to increase pedestrianisation, reduce car traffic and increase cycle access.
However their mission statement describes how ‘any reduction of access to the town centre in the short term is suicidal’.
Ben Ogden, 48, who runs a jewellery business, Ogden of Harrogate, on James Street told The Times: “People want to park on the street outside our shop; they do not want to carry their bags up dingy stairwells in multistorey car parks.”
According to supporters of the plan, there are 6,800 on-street and off-street parking spaces in the 75,000-person town. They also assert that 150 places may be eliminated without causing a disruption to tourists.
Making the town more suited to active travel has also been a challenge, as a cycle way expansion and traffic restrictions into Harrogate were cancelled this month after backlash.
In the district of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, a program called Healthy Streets is taking place.
The Farnham plan to lessen parking in certain areas of the town has the support of the South West Surrey MP.
According to the Farnham Infrastructure Programme, the town center boasts a “dynamic economy” with top-notch shopping, dining, and drinking options as well as a distinctive history.
It claims, however, that the road design is outdated and congested and that the “dominance of roads and vehicles” adversely affects the convenience of traveling on foot, by bus, or by bicycle.
There are two town center proposals, each of which calls for broader pavements and is backed by the elimination of “unnecessary street clutter.”
Meaning more space for new planting, public seating and outside dining to make the town centre ‘a nicer environment’.
It also says that more cycle parking in key locations in the town centre will help people to use bikes to get to town.