The County Council is proposing to enable eligibility for residents of No. 2A Gathorne Road (conversion to Flats 1 to 6 Wingfield House) to apply for residents parking permits and visitors permits. This follows the rescinding of a decision taken at an earlier Cabinet Member for Environment delegated decisions meeting.
Headington Lib Dem councillors have sent the following response to the consultation.
6 April 2018
We are writing to object most strongly to the above proposal for the reasons listed below.
1 This would contravene the condition of planning consent for the above properties
- Planning consent for these properties was given only on condition that the development would be car-free. That condition was informed by advice given by the County Council in its capacity as statutory consultee.
- The evidence for this development to be car-free was substantial and well-considered: the properties are within walking distance to local shops, schools, facilities, and bus routes leading to Oxford, London and the airports. A local car-sharing scheme is also in operation and there are a number of cycle hire schemes which are popular in the Headington area.
- We believe that the granting of eligibility for parking permits and visitors permits to the above housing units designated as ‘car-free’ against the condition of planning consent would set a precedent for all other properties in Headington and across the City. This might well lead to a huge number of other similar applications; this is a common request in Headington from owners of HMOs and flats – units with parking eligibility attached are highly prized and generally command higher prices. Parking pressure is already unacceptably high in parts of Headington because it has become a major employment hub, and councillors receive complaints from long-standing residents who pay the County Council for parking permits but cannot find an on-road space to park their vehicles without difficulty.
2 This would be unacceptable as it is inconsistent with County Council strategy
- The County Council is carrying out its Access to Headington scheme on the B4995. The objectives of that scheme are, inter alia, to:
- Manage growth in car traffic by improving provision for more walking, cycling and use of public transport
- Reduce congestion
- Promote health and wellbeing by reducing transport’s environmental impacts
We believe that the County Council’s objective to reduce congestion is not best-served by encouraging more vehicle parking.
- This area is very well served by public transport, and is becoming more cyclist and pedestrian-friendly The County Council’s Oxford Transport Strategy seeks to introduce Rapid Transit buses to improve public transport still further in the Headington area.
- The Access to Headington scheme for the B4995 Windmill Road will result in a net loss of on-road parking spaces. Windmill Road residents will be looking to park in adjacent residential roads including Margaret Road, Gathorne Road, St. Anne’s Road and Rock Edge. So there will already be extra parking pressure in the Gathorne Road area. Any extra parking permits granted to car-free housing will add to the parking congestion and increase traffic movements half-on and half-off the footway.
3 Current parking pressure
- Local residents have demonstrated to us that there is already parking pressure in Gathorne Road. There are fewer parking places than the number of housing units in the road, and a number of homes do not have off-road parking. Carer parking is required by those in supported living accommodation, and one space is designated disabled only.
- The Chair of the local residents’ association has supplied photographs showing that the on-road parking places are frequently full, and we are assured by residents that this is frequently the case.
- Eligibility for permits for ‘car-free’ units will mean that on-road parking spaces will be competed for by even more Gathorne Road residents and tenants, and parking overspill will spread to neighbouring roads causing inconvenience to the wider community.
4 Inspector’s decision at the appeal
- We recognise that a challenge to an inspector’s appeal decision would be unusual. However we believe that on this occasion the inspector’s appeal decision should be challenged, as it seems to us to be ill-considered given the weight of evidence against it and the gravity of the precedent such a ruling would set.
In conclusion, we believe that the County Council should act consistently with the advice it gave at planning consultation, and with its strategy on reducing environmental impacts and congestion in the Headington Area.
We believe that the Cabinet Member listened carefully to the views of residents and members and made a balanced decision at the earlier Cabinet Member Decision meeting on 12th October last.
We urge the Cabinet Member to reject this proposal.
County Councillor for Headington and Quarry Division
Mohammed Altaf-Khan and Ruth Wilkinson
City Councillors for Headington Ward