Monday, 23 July 2012

Which is worse, unplayable streets, or no front gardens? We have smaller households and more cars between us all (1.14 per household: some of my neighbours appear to be collecting them). A new report from the RAC Foundation shows that ‘the average car is parked at home for about 80% of the time, parked elsewhere for about 16.5% of the time, and only actually used for the remaining 3.5%.’ Each requires a parking slot at each end of each journey. Where should we put them all? Apparently about 80 per cent of Britain’s 26 million dwellings were built with a front plot. That’s nearly 21 million properties. The press release says that ‘Almost a third of these plots have been turned into hardstanding. This means seven million front gardens now contain concrete and cars rather than flowers and grass.’ But 25 per cent of vehicles are still parked on-street overnight, and this rises to a choking 60 per cent at the highest densities. I don’t know how far it’s been heeded, but the government introduced guidance on the permeable surfacing of front gardens in 2008, noting: ‘From 1 October 2008 the permitted development rights that allow householders to pave their front garden with hardstanding without planning permission have changed in order to reduce the impact of this type of development on flooding and on pollution of watercourses.’ Recent research confirms that car use is rather more susceptible to policy influence than car ownership. But when the choice is reduced to having no front gardens or having unplayable streets, maybe it’s time for a behaviour change approach to this peculiar cultural obsession. Previously: Front gardens More on front gardens The right to an impermeable front garden? Local democratic participation and parking

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