Mortlake residents meet with Richmond Borough councillors and Caroline Pidgeon MBE, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, to discuss whether the Stag Brewery development could be car free.

Could the Stag Brewery development be ‘car-free’?

Car-free developments, where residents of newly built housing are not able to apply for a parking permit, is becoming more and more common across London as councils try to avoid adding to traffic and air pollution.

By placing ‘permit-free’ planning conditions on new developments, councils are also seeking to protect existing residents who are often very concerned about the impact on parking and congestion.

Car-free developments usually include disabled parking spaces and can include car club spaces, to support residents who need to use cars.

One of the reasons the Stag Brewery project has stalled is controversy over the number of car parking spaces proposed, with residents concerned not just about congestion and parking, but air pollution and road safety too, given that the site is sandwiched between the river and the railway line and its many level crossings.

Residents say that adding more cars into this area is simply a non-starter: it will be harmful in so many ways. The Mayor of London’s planners have also already said that parking provision must be reduced in the development.

So is the answer for the development to be car-free? Local residents met recently with Richmond councillors and the Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Caroline Pidgeon MBE, to discuss the idea.

It was pointed out that developers tend to argue that parking provision is essential to marketing new development. But many new car-free developments, even in Outer London boroughs like Hounslow, are selling at high prices without difficulty. In fact, the lack of cars makes for an attractive and quiet environment which is used as a selling point.

It was felt that young people nowadays often do not expect to own a car. And that many London households are already ‘car-free’, as many at two thirds in some Inner London boroughs.

Could car parking provision in fact attract foreign investors, who often expect parking provision when buying property? Was this the type of buyer the community wanted to attract?

Local public transport issues were also discussed. It needs to be improved anyway, local residents said, but with a car-free development on this scale, it would be essential. Though well served by train stations, the local buses are not frequent enough and routes need to be extended. It was felt this should be possible, particularly with financial contributions from the developers.

A Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) would have to be introduced in the surrounding streets, otherwise new residents could circumvent the lack of parking provision. Might a CPZ be unpopular with existing residents? It was pointed out that CPZs can bring benefits for householders, including being able to park near your home, an often dramatic reduction in ‘commuter parking’, and reduced traffic and congestion.

Residents felt the meeting was a positive step forward and are keen to continue constructive dialogue with councillors.