London will face "traffic hell" if plans to increase car parking in new developments are approved, Green London Assembly Member, Darren Johnson, has said. The "minor alterations" to the London Plan were proposed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, during Eric Pickles' tenure.
Darren Johnson says increasing car parking in new developments, currently under consultation, along with separate, high cost road building schemes in the capital, could see traffic increase 40-50% on some roads and demand for a car park the size of Richmond Park.
Traffic has decreased in London over the past 15 years, partly attributed to the congestion charging zone. Website "how congested is my road" using TfL's own data, demonstrates the effects of increased traffic on each street.
Darren Johnson said: "The Mayor's move to water down crucial limits on car parking provision in new developments is a deeply irresponsible thing to do. London faces traffic hell if the Mayor weakens these safeguards designed to prevent an over-reliance on cars which would see our communities being ruined by traffic jams and pollution.
"Londoners desperately need clean, fast ways of getting around such as new rail links, tram schemes, better bus services and proper cycle routes. But by signing off trunk road schemes and opening the door for a parking free-for-all, the Mayor is encouraging more driving which will lead to more pollution which will poison our air and eventually bring gridlock.
He says by making driving the easy option the mayor could leave a legacy of pollution and "communities blighted by tailbacks". He urges Londoners to respond to the consultation and make their views known.
Eric Pickles repeatedly called for relaxation of parking restrictions as Secretary of State for the DCLG. On 27 January 2015, the Mayor received a letter from Brandon Lewis, Minister of State for Housing and Planning [within the DCLG], which contains Pickles' trademark phrases about unfair parking fines and clogged up streets.
The GLA reports: "The letter went on to restate the Government’s view on car parking – that more spaces should be provided alongside new homes that families want and need, especially in areas of low public transport accessibility; and that even in urban areas, insufficient spaces, which may be caused by maximum parking standards among other reasons, risk a ‘vicious cycle’ of clogged up streets leaving motorists running the gauntlet of congestion, unfair fines and parking restrictions."
The amendments tabled by the DCLG include increasing capacity in outer London and taking account of car dependency where transport links are poor, in the suburbs and in areas of "family housing".
Road traffic in London fell 15% between 2001-2011 when congestion charging was introduced. Investment in cycle infrastructure is predicted to encourage further traffic reductions as more people take to two wheels.
The how congested is my road site says more car parking and road capacity generates more cars, contrasting that with effective policy in London that has seen traffic fall while the population grew by a million.
One of the supporting papers from the Mayor's Infrastructure Plan concludes a major challenge is to reduce car ownership and usage in a growing population, to avoid congestion, health and environmental problems.
It says: "Even with ‘low car’ assumptions (with per capita reductions in car usage continuing in central and inner London) car traffic is expected to rise somewhat in inner and more in outer London as the population grows, with more significant increases in particular boroughs."
However it adds: "A policy-driven shift and pressure on other modes could see an increase in walking relative to population growth, of perhaps 40-45 per cent, while the aims for cycling are to reach levels seen in cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen."
In March the mayor confirmed the Ultra Low Emission Zone will launch in London's congestion charging zone in 2020, which will place additional charges on vehicles which don't comply with new lower emissions standards.
The consultation is taking place on the Mayor's plans - deadline 5pm Monday 22 June. Click here.