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‘Time to convert parking space to other uses’


Deniz Huseyin
27 September 2019

Parked cars in London occupy two per cent of the capital and use up land valued at £172bn, says new research from real estate specialist JLL. It estimates that the value of  land taken up by parked cars across Europe’s ten biggest cities is £1 trillion. The research, timed to coincide with last Sunday’s World Car Free Day, suggests that space allocated to parked cars is becoming increasingly redundant.

Nick Whitten, director UK research at JLL, told LTT: “Privately operated cars are only used an average of 4% of their typical 15-year lifespan. The rest of the time they are parked. An opportunity exists to encourage other transport uses and persuade people away from the highly inefficient private use model – particularly in better-connected urban areas.

“The repurposing of that land should satisfy either a social, economic or environmental gain. Economically, this could mean building of new housing, leisure or cultural amenities. Socially, this could mean building new larger and safe cycle lanes and, environmentally, this could mean the creation of new urban linear parks and car free zones to improve air quality.”

JLL estimates there are 868 car parks in London that are within one mile of a tube or train station, which could deliver around 80,000 new homes. Roughly half of these are public sector car parks, it notes. “These could represent the low hanging fruit to drive further change,” said Whitten.

He points out that cities such as Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Oslo in Norway have introduced parking removal policies. 

“It is likely that regulation will ultimately deliver the most significant change,” he said. “Further regulation may continue to come in the form of congestion charge style policies to discourage usage or removal of spaces to render driving into a centre less viable. At the same time, authorities will need to ensure they increase and improve public transport provision so that people can move away from private car usage. There may need to be a more integrated public and private transport system that knits together the train and bus networks with the likes of micro mobility and shared taxi solutions.”

Urban multi-storey car parks could be transformed for retail or leisure uses, he suggests, citing Peckham Levels car park, “which has been turned into a cultural amenity where people can eat and drink”.

JLL research argues more space should be dedicated to 'superblocks', like the ones being developed in Barcelona, Spain. Whitten said: “A superblock is a collection of buildings that have intersecting roads, which are then closed off to car usage meaning that cars can then only access the outer areas of those buildings – ie no cars can drive within the block, only around it. This is being experimented with in Barcelona. It is creating an opportunity to then use the redundant roads between the buildings as a shared garden or shared amenity space.”

JLL said that more findings from its car parks research will be published later this year.

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