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Parking plans will mean London congestion chaos

3 September 2008
Campaign for Better Transport today revealed that Boris Johnson’s plans to tackle congestion and improve transport in outer London will be wrecked by the GLA’s own approval of massive traffic-generating schemes for London’s development areas. An average of almost 8,000 parking spaces has been approved or planned for each of eight of the 'opportunity areas' where new developments are to be concentrated. [1]

This will place unbearable demands on the surrounding road networks. Transport for London has already forecast that by 2025 traffic will grow and congestion is likely to increase by more than a third. [2] The new developments will mean even more traffic and worse congestion than predicted. Pressure to create more road capacity or build new roads will be increased. [3]

The Olympics site will be surrounded by vast new parking lots. Car travel to the Games themselves is to be discouraged (at least for spectators) but developments at Stratford and the Lower Lea Valley have planning permission for over 11,000 parking spaces. Thousands more have been built or approved at the Royal Docks just to the south.

Research by Campaign for Better Transport has revealed that car-dependent development will predominate in most if not all of the major development areas of outer London. This includes the Thames Gateway area of east London where the Government has said that it wants low-carbon, sustainable communities to be built. Campaign for Better Transport notes that developments with large car parks are being approved despite policies to reduce the need to travel by car, and to promote walking, cycling and public transport. [4]

Richard Bourn, London Campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said:
"Parking on this scale is more like Los Angeles in the 20th century than London should be in the 21st. If we want to tackle congestion and climate change we will need to be much more serious about controlling parking. These developments are being planned as though people had never heard of global warming. We need much more car-free development where it’s easy to walk and cycle and public transport is close."


Notes for Editors



 Opportunity area  Borough  Parking spaces
(London Riverside)
Barking Riverside
 Barking & Dagenham  8,700
Colindale   Barnet   5,636
Cricklewood/Brent Cross   Barnet   8,940
Wembley (excluding Stadium)   Brent   7,027
Greenwich Peninsular   Greenwich   9,770
White City    Hammersmith  4,880
Lr. Lea Valley including Stratford   Newham   11,289
Royal Docks
 Newham   6,589
Total in all schemes    62,831

In the Mayor’s London Plan development is particularly encouraged at 28 'opportunity areas' and 9 'areas of intensification'. At 12 of these, located in central London mainly around the mainline railway stations, parking restrictions are much tighter. (See the London Plan, map 2A.1, page 45)

We have not attempted a comprehensive survey and this information about parking in new developments is not exhaustive. The total amount of parking in new developments will be very much greater. For instance most opportunity areas consist of more than one, and sometimes several, sites. Some sites may already have been developed while planning proposals for others may not yet have come forward. In both cases the amount of parking will not be included in the table above. We have not been able to find information, or have simply not researched development proposals, for some opportunity areas. There are also many development sites which are not within the opportunity areas.

In the table above we have looked at about one-third of the opportunity areas. The amount of parking included in the table is therefore likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.

2. Information from Transport 2025, Transport for London, 2006, section 5.2

3. Local authority, TfL and GLA officers acknowledge the traffic impact of these developments. For instance:


  • LB of Barnet Development Framework says that the Brent Cross proposals will generate 29,000 additional vehicle trips a day and require increases in the capacity of the local road network
  • A GLA report to the Mayor states that: "TfL has serious concerns regarding the level of retail car parking which is 40% above the recommended standards in the London Plan. The additional parking will only encourage more people to access the development by car as opposed to better utilisation of more sustainable modes. The additional parking will increase the number of car trips on the local highway network in the surrounding area."
  • Another GLA report says that: "the (Barking Riverside) development will … place significant pressure on the local and strategic road networks."

4. See for example Policy 3C.1 of the London Plan which, amongst other things, commits the Mayor to work with TfL and the boroughs to encourage “forms of development that reduce the need to travel especially by car.”