Report of the Interim Director of the Built Environment and Director of Planning and Development.
The Committee considered a report of the Interim Director of the Built Environment and Director of Planning and Development regarding Short Stay Public Cycle Parking in the City.
A Member commented that in the area of the City in which he resided, the majority of on-street parking was used by small traders and small commercial vehicles servicing City businesses and residents. He therefore cautioned against surrendering these spaces and sought assurances that short stay cycle parking standards would be met for all future developments. Officers responded to state that they were working towards retaining as many of the temporary cycle parking spaces that were currently in situ as possible as well as identifying new suitable locations for these. It was reported that current data suggested that these temporary spaces were already being well used but that further data would be gathered on this. It was also underlined that the report stated that any of the temporary cycle parking that was currently utilising on-street car parking spaces would only be made permanent with Member approval.
A Member referred to the figures in Table 1 of Appendix 2 as shocking and stated that she felt it was quite possible for developers to provide these spaces with adequate funding and some creative thinking. She cautioned against requesting financial contributions in lieu of providing the spaces and expressed concern that this could lead to the same issues encountered with social housing provision and difficulties for Officers in terms of identifying any appropriate locations where these additional spaces could be sited given the space requirements. The Member went on to highlight that areas of the City which had the densest amount of office accommodation had the fewest areas of cycle parking and underlined the need to introduce things such as cycle hubs and to insist that developers got creative. She concluded by stating that she was against approving the recommendations around the negotiation of financial contributions.
Another Member referred to long stay, private cycle parking and stated that he was concerned that, in areas such as Carter Lane, it would be difficult for Officers to retrofit and install appropriate cycle parking. He stated that he had therefore sought assurances that the City Corporation would facilitate businesses paying for off site cycle parking and reported that he had received this from earlier correspondence with Officers. Officers spoke to confirm that work was already underway on this and that they had identified a number of providers who were prepared to bring in the right type of parking if appropriate locations could be identified for this purpose. It was reported that this model was already in operation in Soho and would be an effective means of meeting some of the longer term need and working with private providers to improve space in some of the City’s underground carparks for this purpose for example.
A Member stated that this issue underlined the importance of complying with policy - highlighting that, for many years, developers had been under providing in terms of cycle parking and facilities on site. She agreed with one of the previous speakers, stating that if developers wanted to pay for parking spaces they could pay for these in the City’s carparks given that there was capacity here and the need for the City Corporation to find alternative revenue streams for these. In terms of signposting people to parking spaces, the Member commented that this should be achievable using app technology. The Member concluded by stating that she was opposed to charging developers to utilise on-street parking and was also very concerned that the Committee now found itself in this position by seemingly ignoring policy when granting planning applications. Officers responded to acknowledge that more work was required around the use of app technology and signposting available spaces.
In terms of the wider point around financial contributions being accepted in lieu of the provision of spaces, the Chair highlighted that the report set out that each application would be considered on its merits and that this would only be offered as a rare exception. Officers confirmed that they were committed to pressing developers to provide short stay cycle parking on site and would only accept financial contributions in very exceptional circumstances, in line with the London Plan 2021 policy.
In response to further comments around the introduction of cycle hubs, Officers reported that it was difficult to say at this stage when further sites would become available for this purpose but underlined that an Officer had been appointed to lead on this work. Officers undertook to provide further updates on this work to the Committee as part of the quarterly update on the Transport Strategy. The Chief Planning Officer confirmed that the City were already in discussion with a number of schemes to discuss the incorporation of cycle hubs within these schemes.
A Member spoke again to highlight that residential and office blocks often had to retrofit to provide facilities for their residents/workers and stressed that she did not feel that this Committee should accept any applications that did not comply with policy. She added that, if it were true that a financial contribution would only be negotiated in lieu of spaces in very exceptional circumstances, then she would like to see these circumstances outlined to the Committee on each occasion with Members asked to take a final decision on this and satisfy themselves that every possible option had been explored and that this policy was not being taken advantage of. The Chair seconded this point and asked that Officers make it clear to applicants that they would be required to come before the Committee to justify any exceptions.
RESOLVED – That Members:
• Request that any exception to the policy and any proposed financial contribution to make up for a shortfall in short stay cycle parking be brought before this Committee for final decision.
• Delegate authority to officers to negotiate financial contributions for short stay cycle parking stands to be placed on the highway.
• Delegate authority to officers to investigate, design and install cycle parking infrastructure in appropriate locations, when funding is made available from developers under S106 contributions.