On the town

New premiums on parking may reduce the appeal of green-field developmen ts.

The advantage held by out-of-town shopping centres over town-centre rivals may be eroded by a proposal gaining ground among politicians and planners. All future non-residential car parking could be subject to a minimum fee, encouraging shoppers and commuters out of their cars and on to public transport.

Green-field developments have mushroomed over the past 10 years, not least because of the high cost of car parking in cities and towns. But if visitors to out-of-town sites had to pay a parking charge higher than that in town centres, the decline of such centres might be halted.

The imaginative use of car taxation was one of the main recommendations of the latest report of the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development, the Government's advisers on green issues. The Round Table argues that developers of green-field sites should have to pay the financial and environmental costs they impose on society.

One option is to levy a heavy surcharge for using a green-field site. Another is that all car-parking spaces on a new development should be heavily taxed, either as a one-off levy paid by the developer or a minimum parking fee for drivers.

John Adams, secretary of the Round Table, says: "This is used in several countries. It would help to level the playing field for cities and out- of-town developments."

Among advocates of compulsory car-parking charges are the environmental pressure group Transport 2000 and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England. The idea was also floated in last year's Green Paper on transport, but the Government was clearly unenthusiastic. It was keener, instead, on the idea of congestion charges on routes where traffic is very heavy. The problem with this proposal, though, is that it would accelerate the decline of traditional shopping areas, as the urban areas are the most congested.

Consultation with local authorities has shown their enthusiasm for imposing car-parking charges on green-field sites, but there is a limit to how much a single council can achieve. Keith Gardner is assistant chief planner for the London planning advisory committee, which advises London boroughs on planning policy. "We need to get councils working together," he says.

Mr Gardner explains that so few journeys in inner London are made by car that it is not an issue there. "The problem is in outer London, where developers are holding boroughs over a barrel by threatening to go outside the M25. We are encouraging development that is not dependent on cars."

Edinburgh City Council, which is promoting car-free areas in the city, has already reached agreement with one developer to charge for all car- parking spaces as a condition of planning consent. The developer of the Leith Docks site will also pay pounds 1m into improving public transport links.

Planning professionals believe that it is essential to adopt some system of car taxation to reduce road use and make older shopping areas more attractive again. Jed Griffiths, a past president of the Royal Town Planning Institute, says: "If we are going to proceed towards sustainable development, there must be financial incentives and penalties such as a car tax and parking charges. But we have to see a collaborative approach on a city and regional basis, not just looking at single cities but across counties as well. We might see progress with a Labour government devolving power to regional government."

The alternative might be a nationally set minimum charge for each car- parking space, wherever it is. But a national or regional approach would lead to problems of definition. Friends of the Earth might be expected to be one of the strongest advocates of general car parking charges, but is sceptical about its potential.

"It is something that has to be considered, but how would it be administered?" asks Roger Higman, FoE's transport campaigner. "What is out-of-town? Would it be a levy on all car parking, regardless of where it is? Would there be a higher rate for out-of-town developments?"

These are practical questions that might generate pragmatic answers. But any government seriously interested in ending the decline of town and city will surely pay close attention to the growing debaten

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
News
i100
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

    £65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

    Trainee / Experienced Recruitment Consultants

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40000: SThree: As a Recruitment Consultant, y...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Day In a Page

    Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

    Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

    ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
    Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

    Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

    Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
    'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
    BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

    BBC Television Centre

    A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
    10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album