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Editor’s comment: 250 cars in a ‘car-free’ build is a disgrace

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 August 2017

Returning tenants have only 18 roadside parking spaces between them. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Returning tenants have only 18 roadside parking spaces between them. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Archant

What’s going on at Haggerston West is disgraceful.

It’s not just that the people who were moved off the estate feel they were misled about having to pay for spaces if they wanted them. I’m more concerned L&Q thought it appropriate to build a 250-space car park in the middle of an environmentally-friendly development in the first place.

The developer should have communicated properly with the 200 families who got back to find nowhere to park – clearly they were neither consulted on, nor informed about, the objectives of a car-free development. (In 2008, said objectives were pretty scant, save apparently to funnel money away from the council’s parking department and into the hands of private car park operators.) A tenner a week is a lot of money, though perhaps it feels like rather less to the people moving in to buy the new builds. But to repeat a question I have asked repeatedly in this column – who on earth needs to drive in Hackney in 2017?

If we are honest, the answer is: vanishingly few people. We live in the centre of one of the world’s best transport networks. We have walking and cycling networks. On the other side of the coin, we have a real problem tackling inactivity. As I said when Hackney trialled its first “school street” and banned parents from dropping kids off at the gates, we need to cut car use.

The people who already lived at Haggerston West are the ones who could reasonably have expected a bit of notice and support in the transition to a car-free development. New buyers, by contrast, had no reasonable expectation of a parking space, or of the “right” to drive in London, certainly not somewhere as central as Hackney. By sorting these people out with a loophole to the tune of 250 spaces, while leaving the estate tenants in the dark, L&Q has clearly shown it has its priorities backwards.

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