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London car parking plans prompt pollution concern

Policy alterations to the Mayor’s London Plan on minimum car parking standards criticised by London Assembly

The London Assembly has voiced concern that several of the Mayor’s alterations to policies in the London Plan will mean the city “faces a future blighted by congestion and pollution”.

London Plan alterations concerning minimum car parking standards could worsen air quality in the city, the motion argues

London Plan alterations concerning minimum car parking standards could worsen air quality in the city, the motion argues

The London Plan as a whole sets out an economic, environmental, transport and social framework for development.

However, Assembly Members this week (February 10) said that one of the Mayor’s minor alterations surrounding the potential introduction of minimum car parking standards could have an adverse impact on air quality.

In a motion agreed at meeting on Wednesday, the Assembly highlights the recent findings of the independent planning inspector that “implementation of the car parking alterations will result in a predicted decrease in air quality”, adding that any further deterioration in air quality is “unacceptable”.

The motion therefore calls on the Mayor to refrain from implementing the proposed alteration until it has been demonstrated that any mitigating measures “outweigh the impact on air quality”.

Car parking standards

Paragraph 4.4.14 in the Outer London Commission, Fourth Report – Residential Parking Standards, May 2015, highlights the potential introduction of minimum car parking standards, which could result in developers being forced to provide more car parking than a scheme requires, reducing the construction of much-needed housing the capital.

As a result, findings of the London Plan Inspector Report, highlighted by the Assembly, state that the car parking alterations could results in a decrease in air quality.

Therefore, the Assembly states: “Given London is already in breach of the Ambient Air Quality Directive, any further deterioration in air quality is unacceptable.”

Criticism

Labour AM Nicky Gavron, who proposed the motion, said: “The Mayor has chosen to call these minor alterations, but these policy changes will have a major impact and damage the quality of Londoners’ lives.

“If someone came to you and said they wanted to make some minor tweaks to London, but the changes will mean fewer homes built, poorer quality and cramped housing, higher energy bills, worse air quality and more congested roads, then you would reply that those tweaks don’t sound very minor after all. The London Assembly thinks that is the case with the Minor Alterations to the London Plan, and that is why we passed a motion condemning the Mayor’s proposal.”

The Green Party’s Darren Johnson AM, who jointly seconded the motion, added: “London faces a future blighted by congestion and pollution if Mayor Boris Johnson weakens these vital limits to car parking in our city. He should focus on expanding the bus network and improving cycle safety, while keeping a lid on car usage.”

This isn’t the first time the London Assembly agreed a motion about altered policies in the Mayor’s London Plan. Last year (February 6 2015) the Assembly said that the capital had a “missed opportunity” to protect children and vulnerable people from air pollution as the proposals did not put strong enough barriers in place (see AirQualityNews.com story).

The Mayor’s office has been contacted by AirQualityNews.com for comment.

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