Traffic and parking analysis is complicated, and a science and art that few of us can say we understand. Have you read the traffic assessment submitted with this application? I admit I haven’t. But we have local experts here in Botley who have studied it very closely. And the rest of us still have common sense.
Currently, parking problems in Botley are growing. The problem mostly stems from the time park and ride charges increased. Commuters found free parking in Botley’s roads, very near bus stops or with easy access to the cycle paths into Oxford. Over the past 4 years or so, it’s become a real problem in some roads. The problem also comes from new developments where county has allowed fewer onsite parking spaces than would accommodate all the cars that come to live there. This is deliberate policy to encourage use of public transport, or cycle or feet. But it doesn’t always work in Botley. So roads are being parked up, especially down near West Way, where all the busses pass on their ways in and out of the city. Our first controlled parking zone has gone into Elms Road, so now residents have to pay for permits to park in their road.
Here’s what I’ve discovered, and I conclude there isn’t adequate on site parking for the uses they’ve planned.
- Currently, the three car parks are joined up so shoppers can circle until they bag a space. The planned car parks are discrete, separate, so in order to move from one car park to another, you must exit onto the streets and go to another car park.
- There are currently a total of 290 spaces in several places. This isn’t relevant to the argument, since everything in Botley will be different. I don’t understand why anyone is focused on current numbers of parking spaces.
- That said, the parking in front of Elms Parade won’t be changing, except that there will be NO exit at the easternmost end (toward the A34). Same number of spaces, same layout as now, except anyone entering from the west will need to somehow turn their car around to exit via the same access. We saw the difficulty in that plan when we visited on Monday.
- The new plan offers 321 spaces (para 7.81 of report). We learned on the site visit that all spaces are unallocated; it’s first come, first served. Approx 16 are for disabled parking. There are 2 or 3 with chargers. This number includes the existing spaces at the front of Elms Parade. (Other counts from the plans show 317 spaces, after 16 May 16 amendments. I’ve asked officers for a true count, but haven’t heard yet.)
So I, as a reasonable adult non-parking-expert, as are we all, consider the uses of the new West Way, and how many people will bring how many cars.
- Staff: Predictions are for 248 FTEs. What percentage would be expected to drive and park? In the 2011 census 70% of people working in North Hinksey and Wytham drove to work. This is lower than the Vale average of 72%. Of course, 248 FTEs could be 500 or more part timers. This site is handy to busses, so probably fewer. Is a reasonable guess about 150?
- Residents: We learned in the viability report that there will be 1 parking permit per 2-3 bedroom flat, and .5 per 1 bed flat, and an additional 75 permits to be sold. In a previous report I calculated 188 spaces to go with the residential units. (Remember where I said to remember this figure for later?) This is a larger number than the one used in the Transport Analysis, which predicted 112 spaces for flats.
- Hotel: There are 123 rooms. Remember there is no allocated parking, so all spaces are first come first serve. Would a reasonable person guess about 50 spaces?
- So staff parking, residents’ permits, and hotel takes about 388 spaces, or more than is available, so they spill over into neighbouring streets.
We learned on the site visit that all the retail units in Block A are intended to be restaurants. How many parking spaces are needed to support them?
Trip rates assume lots of shoppers. Where will they park? Where will users of community centre, library and church halls park?
I’ll go out on a limb and predict some students will bring cars to the area, especially since we are so far away from Oxford’s universities.
Oxfordshire County Council commented “The highway authority considers that it is unlikely that residents can be prevented from owning cars, and unplanned demand for parking will need to be accommodated elsewhere.”
How can this be considered to be anywhere near enough parking for this shopping centre?