DCAN 8: Housing in Existing Urban Areas
3.34 The amount and arrangement of car parking has an important influence on the environmental quality of new housing development. It can also have a bearing on the number and type of dwellings which can be accommodated on a site.
3.35 ‘Creating Places – Achieving Quality in Residential Developments’, sets out the Department’s normal requirements for the total number of parking spaces to be provided within a development scheme. It is important to recognise that these are Northern Ireland-wide requirements and that lower levels of provision may be appropriate in urban contexts where there is good pedestrian access to local facilities and public transport. ‘Creating Places’ also indicates that in special circumstances ‘car-free’ housing development may be possible.
3.36 Levels of parking provision below the normal requirements should be discussed with the Planning Service and Roads Service (Department for Regional Development) early in the process of scheme design. Where this option is being considered, it will be important to recognise that developments with reduced parking may have an unacceptable impact on existing on-street parking, and also on the amenity enjoyed by existing residents.
3.37 A reduced level of car parking provision may be appropriate where:
- a site enjoys a high level of pedestrian accessibility to local facilities and the public transport network. This is likely to include sites within 10 minutes walking distance (c. 800 metres) of a town centre or signifi cant district centre which is well served by buses or local rail stations;
- the townscape character of the area surrounding the site would be undermined by in-curtilage parking; or
- car ownership among future residents is likely to be below average. This could be the case in respect of social housing or housing for elderly people.
3.38 It is important that discussions about reduced levels of parking provision are based on an analysis of the relevant factors, and evidence that a lower level of provision is desirable and/or necessary.
It may be necessary to extend this analysis to include:
- The range and quality of local facilities and public transport facilities with convenient access for pedestrians and cyclists. This should take account of access to local convenience shopping (newsagents, small food stores, cafés/take-aways, banks etc.), community services and facilities (schools, doctors, dentists, churches, playgrounds and parks etc.), as well to bus stops and train halts/stations;
- The likely level of car ownership among residents, which could include analysis of comparable schemes (including evening and day time surveys) or a survey of future residents where they can be identifi ed in advance (for example, by a Housing Association); and
- Sketch layouts showing the options for accommodating parking. These allow the merits of different amounts and arrangements of parking to be evaluated.
3.39 Such analyses will help to determine if the Department’s normal standards can be reduced. In some areas with very good accessibility, for example, a main arterial route, the reduction could be substantial, while in other cases the reduction could be more marginal.
3.40 The Department’s approach will be to ensure that the level of parking provided is realistic, adequate for resident’s needs without compromising those of existing residents in the vicinity and that its arrangement on site is convenient and safe for users. Car parking also needs to be environmentally friendly without adversely affecting amenity.