Pavements and front gardens have been colonised by cars, says RAC Foundation16/07/2012 Advocacy
Seven million front gardens now contain concrete and cars rather than flowers and grass. And this is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of miles of pavements colonised by cars.
Figures analysed by the RAC Foundation show around 80 percent of Britain’s 26 million dwellings were built with a front plot. Almost a third of these plots have been turned into hardstanding. Houses built between 1919 and 1964 are most likely to have a front garden and hence it is these properties which are most likely to have seen the change.
And the UK is set to see more pavements colonised by cars and more gardens lost to hardstanding. In 1950, there were two million cars. In 2011, there were 28.5 million. Based on current rates of ownership, the rise in population alone is set to increase this figure to around 32 million cars in the next two decades.
Private cars are also getting bigger. And that’s not just the ‘Chelsea tractors’, standard family cars are also getting bigger. The Ford Escort of 1968 was five feet wide. Today’s Ford Focus is six feet wide.
Even where properties have garages, these are increasingly being used to store things (good things, mind, like bicycles) other than motor vehicles or converted into extra accommodation. A third less cars are put away in a garage overnight than a decade ago, claims the RAC Foundation.
The figures are amongst those contained in Spaced Out: Perspectives on parking policy written by John Bates and David Leibling which is published today by the RAC Foundation.
According to the report, the average car is parked at home for 80 percent of the time, parked elsewhere for 16 percent of the time and is only on the move for 4 percent of the time. 94 percent of all parking acts away from the home is free, claims the report.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said:
“Car ownership is set to keep on rising, but where are these vehicles going to go? Unless we want to see more streets clogged up and front gardens disappear then councils need to address the matter. Ministers decision last year to remove the cap on parking spaces at new developments will help.
“Even so we fear councils regard parking provision as an afterthought. Unlike their legal obligation to keep traffic moving there is no law that makes them provide adequate space for stationary cars, though we would regard the two topics as inextricably linked.
“On the face of it parking is an inconsequential act. But it is a hugely emotive topic and providing adequate parking in the right place at the right price is a big challenge for planning authorities.
“Clearly appropriate parking provision by local authorities has to be paid for and if charges are not levied on drivers then council tax payers will have to foot the bill..”