Houghton Regis - The Pressure's Cooking for Town Centre Parking

Town Council discussed the Houghton Central application a couple of weeks back. (see application links at bottom of page.)

I did address the meeting, and alerted our town councillors to making a strong case if they were in any doubt that the car parking provision was lacking. Over in Dunstable a development was allowed through, under officer delegated powers, for retail space plus 26 flats with only 6 parking spaces on High Street South (story). The officers qualified that by saying they were allowed to bypass laid down parking space criteria if there were exceptional circumstances like town centre bus services and public car parks nearby. (click below to enlarge)

Clearly, if our town councillors had any concerns about the level of provision for parking at Houghton Central they would have needed to bear in mind how the planning officers minds work, especially as the High Street area is well served by bus routes.

As it turned out, our town councillors never even mentioned the amount of parking provision in their deliberations. I know its a concern for Whitehouse Close residents, as they feel their street may become an easy target for parkers. They did query the Whitehouse Close entry door, to ensure it was not a permanent entry/exit point that would encourage unwanted parking. And they did mention that they wanted to protect nearby parts of The Green from construction traffic, which is all to the good, but they must keep well on top of that, otherwise parts of the green, especially closest to Clarke's Way, could become rather muddied up.

We're in for a pressure cooker time of it with regards to parking in the High Street. Houghton Central, itself, will come with an offering of shops that will in turn attract motorists to want to park as close to the front doors as possible. The Town Council only own one car park and that is in front of their Peel Street office. Even now you can often find it difficult to park in the 'church car park', or in 'the doctor's car park' which are both owned by the Bedford Square owner. In Tithe Farm Road, car parking spaces there must also be used by their tenants in the flats above Bedford Square shops, so they'd be reluctant to install time-controlled parking as a possible solution.

Queen Street, parking, set to grow with town growth.

As Houghton Central becomes a reality, and the town grows more and more, parking, and parking on the kerbs (as if it isn't already), will become the norm around the town centre, unless measures are taken to counter it.

Update 9 Nov 2016:
The Houghton Regis Central development was approved. The CBC decision meeting video should be available for the next 6 months.

CBC officer gave some reassurances that a car park 10 minutes walk away in council ownership was available during the construction period, and that parking in Whitehouse Close would be monitored, and measures would be taken should parking in that Close become an issue.

Parking aspect, transcript from the meeting:

CBC Officer, "At the moment there is no parking issue in Whitehouse Close. Clearly the anticipation is what if, ... during the construction we have identified a car park which is 10 minutes walking distance in council ownership...  CBC Officer, "The parking requirement is about 15% of a residential figure"

Chair, Cllr K Matthews: "Can I ask, Peter, to put up the slide that shows the frontage along the High Street. I presume that's where the retail units would be?"

Officer: "Correct."

Chair, Cllr K Matthews: "Ah, Is there any specific provision for parking for those retail units? I'm talking about shoppers. Are they expected to use the car park opposite which is Bedford Square car park, isn't it?"

Planning Officer: "There would be use made of the surrounding car parks within the town centre and not specific designation of spaces within the application site."

... interrruption of question raised about the phasing of building....

Cllr AJ Swain, "Thank you chair. Umm. I'd just perhaps ask for a bit of clarity on, on the parking  .. I think I've basically been on the understanding that the parking will be available for, um, people to use the, um, er, shopping areas and that lot in er, in er, in the, um, the building itself, and and sort of probably the Bedford Square shopping as well .."

Cllr C Maudlin: "The parking."

Officer: "My apologies, I've looked into it further, there would be 22 spaces on the site"

Cllr AJ Swain, "Thank you."

Connected Links

More ... on Houghton Regis Central

CB/16/03378/FULL New Build  http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/portal/searchresult.asp?appnumber=CB%2F16%2F03378

and CB/16/03379/LB Listed Building Consent

More developments in Houghton Regis see http://www.hrnd.co.uk/p/developments.html

>>My previous article: The Disregard for Bottle Bank

CBC document

4.2 It is proposed to provide up to 106 parking spaces as part of the development proposals. This will provide some 22 parking spaces that will be available for use by the public (associated with the retail / community uses) and for visitors to the residential units. The remainder will be associated with the independent living accommodation.
4.3 The proposed site layout is shown in the Masterplan attached in Appendix C.
4.6 To the south, an additional parking area will be provided for some 11 parking spaces. These will be accessed from a new driveway access onto Clarkes Way. This new car park access is shown in Drawing 5416-001.
4.9 To the east the existing service road will be stopped up at its junction with The Green, providing pedestrian and cycle access only. To the south the existing road will be used to serve 12 parking spaces. The existing access onto Clarkes Way will be maintained and unaltered.
4.12 However, the guidance states that a reduction in maximum parking space provision for retail purposes maybe implemented. Due to the site’s location in central Houghton Regis a primary discount of 10% may be discounted from the required amount of car parking spaces.
4.13 A further percentage reduction is suggested due to the sites local accessibility. The site has a high level of existing accessibility to non-car modes of transport. Due to the sites location in central Houghton Regis and its accessibility through walking, cycling and bus routes it is argued that the highest local accessibility discount of 25% is applied.
4.14 Therefore, due to the deductions described, the minimum number of car parking spaces required for the retail element of the development on this site is 19.
4.15 The development proposes to provide up to 22 parking spaces for shared use between the retail / community uses and for visitors to the residential element. Given the central town location and the existing parking provision within the town, this level of shared parking provision is considered to be acceptable.