Lewisham Council would like to cover the entire borough in CPZs (Controlled Parking Zones). Their rationale for this seems to partly stem from Lewisham Borough having a relatively low proportion of CPZs compared to other boroughs. Following a herd seems like a tenuous reason to do anything, but the comparative boroughs they mention are Tower Hamlets, Camden and Islington which have 100% coverage and, also, just so happen to have highest commuter inflows of any boroughs outside central London. Lewisham also has one of the highest commuter outflows of any borough. So some boroughs might need CPZs, but that doesn’t mean that Lewisham is one of them.
This all assumes that there is a parking problem to be solved but the objectives seem to be much more wide-ranging. The council have started a consultation on this but it is being done in stages.
Phase 1 of the consultation (Catford/Crofton Park) covers a fair bit of Crofton Park and roughly half of Honor Oak. The western boundary of the area follows the railway line and the border with Forest Hill ward. There has historically been a “park and ride” problem in the area around Honor Oak Park station, both sides of the tracks, but nowhere else in Crofton Park Ward.
Since COVID and the expansion of the ULEZ, there is much less of an issue with commuters who park up for the day. Should the council get their way and introduce CPZs east of the tracks, this will displace the parking to the west thereby creating a problem there. As a strategy to implement CPZs borough wide this makes sense but are CPZs actually solving a problem here, or potentially creating one? Surely, if the hypothesis is that there is a parking problem around the station, then this area should be consulted – the very areas proposed here are flawed from the start.
What are the objectives?
From the consultation document, these are the aims:
Apart from the Changes to Parking, which has no clear connection to the aims, the other proposals sound great, but do they go far enough? To address pollution, transport use, road safety, noise and congestion, for instance, it would seem much more productive to focus on rat runs, traffic calming and local transport rather than parked cars. Given that Lewisham has relatively low car ownership and high commuting levels, a CPZ is not going to significantly change residents’ commutes, rather will just penalise those that have a car regardless of how often it is used.
Even if the council fix the consultation area, it is debatable whether a CPZ is required anywhere close to Honor Oak Park station. It is unlikely to feature as a way of changing transport modes, so what is the function of the CPZ in the proposals? It is instructive to note that unless the CPZ is implemented, then none of the other changes will happen! This is because the funding for the proposals comes from two sources: section 106 and CPZ income.
Section 106 relates to planning. When a development is proposed and it has an impact which the council wants to mitigate, they may require a fee and legal agreement to cover this. Typically, this actually arises from the developer wanting to renege on affordable housing in their proposal.
The CPZ income is initially set at £60 per car per household per annum and £350 per car for businesses (diesels are more at £120 and £400 respectively). This is during a cost-of-living crisis. Where this has been put in place, elsewhere in the borough, these charges have been ramped up to £120 per car for residents. It is not clear why these charges should increase after the initial capital expenditure has been spent. The response from councillors when challenged on this is that the income is ring-fenced for further road scape improvements. This seems nebulous at best and the funding mechanism is opaque.
One might consider, with low car ownership, that those without a car will feel just the benefits. Not quite. Any visitors, or trades people, coming to your household will need a parking voucher, which are only allowed for one hour slots. 10 per year are provided as part of the car parking fee for residents but if you don’t have a car, or need extra, these cost £16 per book of 10 (unless over 60 or in receipt of Council Tax support).
Wrong side of the tracks?
Given the way that the consultation is being staged, it is especially perverse that rat-running is not being addressed. There has been a lot of hot air about LTNs in recent years, but the truth is that, though the terminology is new, they have been an accepted part of the London roadmap for decades. There is an extensive network of LTNs east of the tracks and Honor Oak Park station in Crofton Park ward but nothing comparable exists west in Forest Hill ward. The rat running that happens down Devonshire Road, for instance, is a proper nuisance and sometimes even dangerous, certainly polluting and noisy – issues that the proposals purport to address. To the east, there is noticeably less pollution and noise and the streets are much safer to navigate on foot or cycle yet residential parked cars are the focus.
Of those who do park and ride, many do so because the public transport links don’t work for them. It has long been recognised that there is a transport wasteland between Honor Oak and Peckham. Only the P4 serves Honor Oak Park station and extending the 63 bus to Brockley Rise would surely assist with this. If the objective is to change transport habits, then better links to the station are vital.
What about the businesses?
Businesses have had a tough time of it over the last few years. Cafes and restaurants will certainly be impacted if customers are put off visiting due to parking charges and will further face difficulty with deliveries. Other trades will relocate, as has happened in other parts of London, and this will make some services more expensive.
Schemes to reclaim streets for residential and business use would also be welcome. Compare with the much more imaginative approach taken in Lambeth.
If any of this concerns you, please respond to the survey and, if you can, attend consultative meetings that have been arranged: