Council planners dismiss CPZ parking concerns

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Parking in a Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) is not a concern for Bedford Borough Council’s planning officers when they consider planning applications.

This was the response to councillors’ concerns over a planning application to sub-divide a three-bedroom semi to form four separate flats.

Paul Lennox, team leader for development management, told the Planning Committee yesterday (Monday, February 21) the application to convert 71 Victoria Road, Bedford, was reported to committee at the request of ward councillor Fouzia Zamir Atiq (Labour, Cauldwell), who was unable to attend the meeting.

Councillor James Weir (Conservative, Kempston Rural Ward) asked what the material reasons were for calling in the application.

Janine Laver, the council’s development manager, said that neighbours were concerned about over-development, antisocial behaviour, not enough parking and there being “too many flats already”.

“Those were the comments, over development in terms of we would take that to be – lots of bins, more requirements for bicycle parking, that would be material,” she said.

“Not enough parking, clearly material, was a concern. Too many flats already, we wouldn’t necessarily consider that as it’s in the urban area.

“But within that call-in there is some substance that we considered material.”

Councillor Abu Sultan (Labour, Cauldwell Ward) asked about car parking.

“The application doesn’t require parking spaces because it’s in the CPZ zone,” he said.

“I believe [this is] passing the problem onto neighbouring streets, so my question is shouldn’t that be taken into consideration when Highways consider the implications of that?” he asked.

Mr Lennox replied: “It’s fairly common that we have these sorts of applications within the CPZ and the Highways Authority does accept that zero parking for a development is acceptable.

“Of course, in the evenings people will be able to park on the street. But during the day they won’t because they won’t be issued with parking permits, and that’s a requirement of the highways authority.

“So as far as planning reasons to refuse on those grounds it wouldn’t be substantiated.”

Councillor Sue Oliver (Labour, Kempston North Ward) said: “I know a fair amount about this area because I used to be a ward councillor for Cauldwell and parking is of a premium there.

“The report says ‘oh, it’s in a CPZ zone’, that makes it sound like a good thing.

“But it’s not because there’s no on-site parking, you’re recommending that the access is narrowed so that even if there were room vehicles can’t get in and out.

“Potentially there could be eight people there, where are they supposed to park?” she asked.

Mr Lennox said: “The parking standards that we work by allow for zero parking developments within the CPZ.

“You can argue either way on that as to whether it’s reasonable or unreasonable, but that’s the council’s current position.”

Councillor Oliver said: “If you’ve ever driven or tried to drive along Victoria Road between the hours of 6 pm to 10am it’s not easy because it’s a very crowded street already.

“I would have concerns that this will exacerbate this.”

Ms Laver said: “I would say that the planning department didn’t write the book on the CPZ, it is governed by our parking department, we obviously have to apply those rules.

“If the parking department felt they needed to review the CPZ and the hours of controls along those streets that’s something that they would need to do.

“For us to suggest a refusal on the basis that this would lead to cars coming after 6pm would be highly unreasonable in my opinion.

“I think comments such as reviewing the CPZ need to be directed to our colleagues in another department so that when we start to see saturation or over-saturation that it’s being considered at the right time and by the right department.

“At which point they might come up with an extended CPZ or a different parking policy which we can apply.

“All we have at present is their advice which is it’s in a CPZ therefore zero parking requirements are acceptable.

“To go beyond that would almost seem to be unreasonable, I’m not sure we’d be able to defend that,” she said.

The committee voted to grant the planning permission, subject to the conditions.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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