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PARK AND RIDE 'COULD STRANGLE GREEN BELTS WITH NECKLACE OF CAR PARKS'

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Green belt across England is being eaten up by an explosion in the growth of 'Park and Ride' schemes. Rather than s...
Green belt across England is being eaten up by an explosion in the growth of 'Park and Ride' schemes. Rather than solving traffic problems, many schemes simply shift them to the countryside.

This will be the key message given by CPRE to transport officers at a major conference on Park and Ride in London tomorrow.

Paul Hamblin, CPRE's head of transport policy, will tell the conference: 'Superficially, Park and Ride schemes look an attractive option for urban areas. Traffic generates noise, pollution and is an intrusion for many areas. But out of sight should not mean out of mind - the problem is simply being shifted to the edge of our urban areas, and to the countryside next door.'

'Increasingly large areas of countryside are being buried under tarmac in the name of sustainable transport. But in reality, almost every trip relies on using the car at one end. These schemes do not reduce our dependency on the car.'

'Park and Ride is 'successful' only for those whose mindset separates our urban areas from the countryside. Simply allowing rural areas to fill up with traffic offers no solution.'

CPRE is concerned that Park and Ride can:

-intrude into the countryside, and designated green belt land in particular;

-generate more traffic overall with increases in traffic outside of the town being greater than the reductions achieved within it;

-lead to an increase in parking provision which is unsustainable unless accompanied by constraints in town centres; and

-urbanise countryside through additional lighting and signage.

Paul Hamblin continued: 'We've seen local authorities invest millions in Park and Ride schemes and developing high quality public transport linked to them. While this sounds good, these can only be accessed if you use your car to drive to the edge of town. Meanwhile existing rural public transport services are under intense pressure. We need to reduce traffic levels overall and improve public transport closer to where people live to provide genuine transport choices.'

He concluded: 'Our green belts which protect against urban sprawl are under attack like never before with Park and Ride a leading threat. If this continues - every major town in England will have a necklace of car parks around it - and it won't be a pretty site.'

NOTES

The last national survey of Park and Ride showed 40 towns and cities in England had P&R, totalling over 50,000 spaces. A list of P&R by town, city and region is attached. Local Transport Plans produced in England have estimated a growth of 150 new bus based schemes between 2000-2005.

CPRE launched its green belt campaign on 25 May. This aims to protect and celebrate existing green belts, and see new ones created to avoid sprawling development. The campaign co-incides with the 50th anniversary of the publication of the key government circular establishing green belts nationally.

CPRE exists to promote the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of rural England by encouraging the sustainable use of land and other natural resources in town and country. We promote positive solutions for the long-term future of the countryside and to ensure change values its natural and built environment. Our Patron is the Queen. We have 59,000 supporters, a branch in every county, eight regional groups, over 200 local groups and a national office in central London. CPRE is a powerful combination of effective local action and strong national campaigning. Our president is Max Hastings.

The Conference, Park and Ride 2005, is being held on 9 June 2005 at the Glaziers Hall, London Bridge, London SE1. It has been organised by Landor Conferences. Paul Hamblin will be speaking on 'Who really benefits from Park and Ride Schemes? Are rural sites being sacrificed to improve urban centres?'. He will be available for interview.

Source: Department for Transport, Delivering Better Transport: Progress Report, 2002. This indicates that local authorities' Local Transport Plans included plans for 150 new bus based Park and Ride schemes between 2000/01 - 2005/06. This is above the 100 new schemes assumed in the government's Ten Year Transport Plan (published in 2000).

According to consultants, TAS, spending on Park and Ride has increased significantly in four years from£10.4m to£37m. In 1998/99 highway authorities spent£8.5m in capital expenditure on building Park and Rides, and£1.9m on maintaining them. By 2002/03 authorities were spending£25.4m in capital expenditure, and£11.6m in maintenance/subsidy.

PARK AND RIDE: THREATS TO GREEN BELT

Across the country, many highway authorities are including proposals for Park and Ride (P&R) in their five year Local Transport Plans. The last major survey undertaken by consultants TAS, Park and Ride in Great Britain 2003, showed that 40 towns or cities in England have full time P&R, at 92 sites. 15 towns or cities have one P&R site; 11 have two; four have three sites; seven have four; and three have five sites. These total 54,048 parking spaces.

In 2000 the Department for Transport published a Ten Year Transport Plan which said that the government estimated that 100 Park and Ride schemes would be constructed by 2010.

Analysis of Local Transport Plans produced by highway authorities indicates that they intend to construct 150 between 2000-2005. Highway Authorities will be re-submitting their five year Local Transport Plans (covering 2006/7-2010/11) to the DfT in July 2005. Below are three case studies where proposals for Park and Ride are threatening the green belt.

Chester - Green belt becoming Chester's giant overflow car park

Contact: Ann Jones, CPRE Chester Tel: 01244 390314

The green belt around the historic city of Chester has come under sustained attack from proposals for Park and Ride. It currently has four P&R sites north, south, east and west of the City. They total 3,170 car parking spaces. A fifth P&R of 1,200 spaces (covering 25 acres of green belt land) is proposed, and studies in the past have proposed two more.

The first Park and Ride for Chester arrived some 15 years ago. It was not in the green belt, but was later moved to Boughton Heath which is designated as green belt land. Being land with restricted uses, this was seen as being cheaper to acquire. A second was then added to the west of the city. Again the Chester green belt was not affected, but the scheme severely damaged the 'Green Barrier' which had been designated in nearby Wales. The third P&R of 460 spaces lies to the north, adjacent to the huge visitor car park for Chester Zoo (5,000 spaces). The fourth, at Wrexham Road is the biggest at 1,200 spaces and this lies entirely within land designated as green belt. This is located opposite Chester Business Park.

Although businesses in the park are proud of their Green Travel Plans, some employees use the parking available in the P&R nearby.

CPRE Cheshire is objecting to the continued encroachment of P&R into green belt land and the unbalanced transport policies which are dominated by P&R. It wants to see more intensive use made of existing P&R sites before new ones are considered; use made of adjacent overflow car parks (such as at Chester Zoo); investment in the neglected Chester rail station to transform it into a proper transport interchange; and support for existing public transport services. CPRE Cheshire also want to see

investment in cycle paths to access the existing P&R sites (none of which have cycle lanes to them).

Bath - Park and Ride displaces Rugby Club into the Green Belt

Contact: Henrietta Sherwin, CPRE Avonside Tel: 01225 427660

Bath & North East Somerset Council's planning committee recently considered the highly controversial application to build a P&R car park in the floodplain in Lambridge. This would entail building on the site of the current Bath Rugby Club training facilities. The proposal was first mooted ten years ago. The council

is obliged to provide equivalent or enhanced rugby facilities elsewhere, and has proposed that these be on the green belt at Bathampton Meadows. The new Rugby facility would be considerably larger than the existing facility, including parking for 140 cars. Although the planning committee approved the P&R they have deferred a decision on the rugby facilities. It is likely that a final decision will need to be made by the full council. In addition, Bath & North East Somerset Council is also proposing to expand Odd Down and Lansdown Park and Rides and build a new 1,500 space P&R on the green belt at Newbridge.

Bath is at the capacity of what traffic it can absorb. CPRE Avonside believes that even if Lambridge P&R accommodated some car travel it would only be replaced by other cars and result in little traffic reduction.

Without reductions in parking, the Highways Agency fear the P&R will add to traffic problems. In a survey undertaken by CPRE Avonside over 90% of respondents said the P&R was neither necessary or desirable. The group believes that any potential benefits of Lambridge P&R would only be for the short term and at considerable financial and environmental cost. Because of the need for mitigation measures

to prevent flooding, the cost of the P&R (with its 800 spaces) is estimated to cost an amazing£5-6m. These earthworks and flood mitigation measures will themselves have a significant impact on green belt land.

CPRE Avonside would like to see Bath and North East Somerset Council drop the Lambridge P&R proposal. A long-term view should be taken with the preservation of Bath's green belt and the rural setting of Bath taking precedence over a short-term transport policy. Instead, the council should continue its efforts to re-route HGVs away from sensitive areas, concentrate on improving public transport, and in

particular provide bus priority on the London Road. The use of smaller car parks outside Bath might also be considered. The first option would be to look at the use of existing car parks at church halls, pubs, and at disused sites that are accessible to an enhanced bus service. There is also considerable potential to

improve the walking and cycling environment on the eastern approach to Bath. These measures in combination are likely to have a greater affect on congestion than the Lambridge P&R, and at less cost and environmental damage.

Surrey - Park and Ride is an expensive damaging mistake

Contact: Tim Harrold, CPRE Surrey Tel: 01483 564876

The proposed Park and Ride at Merrow in the Guildford green belt has been resisted by CPRE Surrey and local residents. Opposition to an unwanted golf course development at this site goes back to 1992, and only obtained borough council backing when it was linked with a free site for a P&R by the landowner in 2000. Now a 316 space P&R is planned to open before the end of 2006 together with a golf and leisure centre. Despite CPRE Surrey protests, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister refused to call this matter in for public inquiry.

CPRE Surrey continues to object to this development not only because of its damaging impact on the green belt, but also because traffic flows do not justify a P&R at this location of even this small size. The financial viability of the whole project is questionable too. Estimates indicate that the P&R will cost between£2-3m to build, with annual operating costs between£260,000-450,000, requiring a significant ongoing subsidy.

CPRE Surrey maintains that the pragmatic acceptance of a free site for P&R facility in the wrong place will prove a costly and damaging mistake both for the taxpayer and the countryside. Alternative parking nearer the town centre and the length of the bus journey to and from Merrow will make this project a liability from the outset and for the foreseeable future. Ignoring the warning signals will prove an

expensive exercise for all concerned.

More information: copies of CPRE's campaign briefing, Park and Ride,

(price£3.00 or downloadable free from www.cpre.org.uk) are available

free of charge to journalists from CPRE's press office tel: 020 7981 2800.

For a table highlighting a number of battlegrounds where Park and Ride is threatening green belt land, click here.

NOTTINGHAM OUTLINES POLICY BEHIND PLANNED NEW PARK AND RIDE SITES (LGCnet) Local contacts are available for each.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Paul Hamblin (Head of Transport Policy)(w)(h)020 7981 2800020 8889 7947

Nick Schoon (Director - Communications)(w)(h)(m)020 7981 2800020 8290 682207739 332796

Nicola S. Frank (Press Officer)(w)020 7981 2800

Local contacts for the key battleground areas are also available - see the attached sheet for details

An ISDN audio line is available - contact the press office for details.

For a complete archive of CPRE press releases see our website: www.cpre.org.uk

If you would prefer to receive press releases via email, call Hannah Jewkes on 020 7981 2820 or email hannahj@cpre.org.uk

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