Parking calculator for new West Sussex developments ‘not fit for purpose’

Brian Donnelly, who represents Pulborough and Coldwaltham
Brian Donnelly, who represents Pulborough and Coldwaltham

The method used by West Sussex councils to work out how much parking should be included in new housing developments has been branded ‘not fit for purpose’.

The view was voiced by Brian Donnelly (Con, Pulborough & Coldwaltham) during a Horsham District Council planning meeting on Tuesday September 18.

The committee was discussing an application to convert the first and second floors of 60 & 62 High Street, Steyning,  into four two-bedroom flats.

Mr Donnelly said the decision to assign six of the proposed parking spaces to a ground-floor shop and only one each per flat ‘mathematically and logically doesn’t make sense’.

The planning officer’s report laid out how the allocation was worked out, using the West Sussex parking calculator, and Mr Donnelly recognised that they were ‘hamstrung’ by the rules.

He told the meeting: “I believe the West Sussex parking calculator is really not fit for purpose. We’ve said this on many occasions. It just defies logic and mathematics.

“I really believe we’ve made a huge error of judgement in not challenging this on more occasions.”

Mr Donnelly also shared concerns that too little off-street parking would have an adverse effect on shops, as on-street parking, which could be used by customers, was being taken up by locals.

He pointed out that a West Sussex highways officer, speaking at a seminar, had said they were ‘directed by government to encourage less use of cars’ – a philosophy Mr Donnelly described as ‘consistently crazy in our congested villages’.

He added: “The reality is we’re stuffing these little villages with hundreds of cars and I think that is going to impact on the retail trade in the medium term.”

The application was approved.

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said its car parking demand calculator used census data collected by the Office for National Statistics to work out the likely car ownership in new developments.

He added: “A review of the West Sussex car parking standards and the car parking demand calculator is currently being undertaken. 

“The review of both the parking standards and the calculator is being undertaken to ensure that the guidance remains fit for purpose, up-to-date and consistent with current national planning policy.

“This review has been undertaken in consultation with the local planning authorities within West Sussex.”

The review is expected to go before the county’s environment, communities and fire select committee in November before being sent for approval by the cabinet member for highways and infrastructure.