NEW planning rules have been adopted meaning town centre developments in Christchurch no longer need to provide car parking.
BCP Council councillors have approved a new policy document, including Bournemouth and Poole, that relaxes requirements on developers, in a bid to encourage more building in central areas, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
The move was made despite concerns that it will exacerbate parking problems in some of the most congested parts of the conurbation.
The supplementary policy document (SPD) has been put together to replace three existing versions the council inherited when it was formed in 2019.
It introduces a new zonal approach to planning rules with developments in some town centre areas no longer needing to provide any car parking.
The policy also brings in a requirement for all new houses and bungalows to provide electric car charging facilities.
The parking rules were introduced following concerns developers were being dissuaded by the cost of having to provide spaces for would-be residents.
But the changes have drawn some criticism, including from planning committee member Cllr Stephen Bartlett. Speaking at last week’s full council meeting, he called on the adoption to be halted, saying it was “not policy compliant”.
He referred to the requirement in the National Planning Framework, which necessitates improvements to parking safety and quality. He also questioned how disabled people would be accommodated in these developments.
“I have been on the planning committee for six years and I have only heard complaints that the minimum parking provision is insufficient, and I have never heard anyone suggest that there should be less, or even nil, until now,” he added.
“If this SPD is adopted I believe residents will be furious when they realise the implications and negative impact this will have for them.”
Concerns were also raised that public transport was not good enough to replace cars.
But BCP Council’s cabinet member for transport, Cllr Mike Greene, said similar rules used elsewhere had worked.
“We are not the first place in the country to be doing this,” he said. “This is widespread and is effective.
“There are many people who would like to buy a property at a cheaper price and accept that they will not be having a car.”
He said this policy would increase the number of people using public transport, providing a “captive audience” to bus companies making more routes viable.
A vote to adopt the new document was supported by 53 votes to eight.