Monday 16 March 2009

Driveway engineering

We know that drives, even demi-drives are invaluable. They are the only way to use your car and park legally near the house on your return, if you live within walking distance of the city: Southville, Clifton, Cotham -same problem.

Getting a driveway, that's the problem. Montpelier has its pavement parking problem precisely because their gardens aren't deep enough for driveways, while in Clifton the driveways are there, but the conservation/listed building/terrace rules are biased against it.

How then do you get hold of one, how do you buy a parking space? Here's one way, and it's documented by the Clifton and Hotwells Improvement society, so it must be true. And there is a history up on the Planning Site, though without enough details to be sure. Treat this story with a pinch of salt -if we had the full documents we'd be more accurate.

Once upon a time, there was a house, in Richmond Park Road, Clifton. This is a Grade II listed terrace, and as part of the guidelines for consistent terraces, driveways are not allowed. This is why their 1997 application 97/00975/L was refused, "formation of new off-street parking space". Similarly, the 1997 application 97/03124/L was refused for "Widening existing access to form vehicle access", as was the similarly titled application 97/03125/H. There were two appeals made on the topic of these refusals in 1998, apparently withdrawn.

What also happens in 1998 is an Enforcement Enquiry, when the council suspects something is going on without them knowing. This is 98/30274/OTHER, "Unauthorised tree works. Change of use to flats." The case is closed -no details on the outcome of this or any other enquiry.

Everything goes quiet. In 2000, there's an enforcement enquiry. 00/30090/LB, "Works to front wall and installation of gate posts". Case Closed.

Again, silence.

Then in 2003, 03/02123/LA, Alteration to front boundary wall to include widening of opening and provision of new wrought iron gates and railings. This is the fun one -but sadly the documents aren't up online. According to local society, the need to get a double-width push chair in and out of the garden meant that the residents requested a wider entrance. It was granted, subject to condition(s). Again, those conditions aren't online. But the key thing: a wider gate is now allowed.

Yet what happens next? Enforcement enquiry 03/30519/OTHER, Possible creation of parking space. There is some suspicion that the newly widened gate is wide enough for a car to fit, and that people are doing just that with a SmartCar.

Apparently, the push chair turned out to have a motor. It still needs access to the road, hence the other Enforcement Enquiry, 03/30687/LB, Dropped kerb for possible creation of vehicular access, the council having the suspicion that the household, while nobody was looking, dug up the pavement and inserted a dropped kerb. Again, case closed. If there were secret plans to build a car parking area here, either it wasn't picked up, or allowed.

All is quiet on the parking space front until 2005 and 05/30059/CONSRV, Removal of front wall and creation of hard standing, -perhaps the owners have discovered the limited value of a SmartCar, and need something bigger.

Today, a Ford Escort and lots of notes asking people not to even consider parking nearby, "No parking, access required 24 hours".

It's a shame the planning site doesn't answer the question is this driveway and dropped kerb legal? If it isn't, there's probably nothing to stop anyone parking their own car in front of the driveway, at least when it isn't occupied by a car. It would be an amusing experiment, best done with a car you don't value, as we know that parking issues in Clifton can lead to fights. Perhaps someone from St Werbugh's can move a festival campervan there.

The other question is: how much money has the owner spent since 1997 to get this parking space. The applications, the appeals, the applications for a push-chair width gate, the hardstand, the dropped kerb, the handling all the enforcement enquiries. There is no way that the Keep-the-Parking-Free campaign can can say that a resident parking zone will deflate the value of a house, given how much it is clearly worth to these people -people whose house backs onto the Keep-the-Parking-Free central office.

(please let us know if you found this article interesting and amusing. It's a bit longer than normal, but funny enough that it merits coverage. If you like it, we will explore some of the other tactics needed to get a driveway past an anti-car council).


Chris Hutt said...

The owner has been known to keep one or two old bangers (apparently taxed) parked either side of the "double buggy" access to prevent others restricting the access.

The owner must be a very important person to justify taking up not just one public parking place for the dropped kerb access but two more public parking spaces either side to prevent any risk of the access being blocked.

The benefit to the owner is twofold. Not only do they get the off-street parking place but they get exclusive use of the on-street space too.

All this goes to show how immensely valuable parking spaces in this part of Clifton are, and how massively they are being subsidised by the council tax payer when the proposed annual charge for an RPS parking permit is as little as a mere £30.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about important, but someone who has a tangible need to use their car during the day. All this repeated effort to get a parking space is because without it, there's no likelihood of them being able to park near the house on a weekday before, what, 4pm? What they are spending their money is not merely the guarantee that there no walking to find their car, it is the ability to use their car.

And yes, it does show that compared to this effort, £30 is pretty minimal. This house did not have any say-no-to-CPZ signs up, incidentally.

Anonymous said...

Makes a mockery of the planning system. What say we raise the funds to buy & tax an old banger to park (legally) on the road in front of the double buggy gate?

Failing that, how about poster-sized copies of the two 1997 applications' rejections glued over the "no parking, 24 hour access etc" sign?

Forest Pines said...

This is just to say that I, for one, found this article interesting and informative.

Presumably someone with the time and energy to pop into Central Library could discover if there has been any change in ownership/occupation during that planning history; if so, the current occupants may be unaware that illegal building work has gone on.

Anonymous said...

Yes, very interesting article!

Ben S said...

Love it - more please.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Worth a follow-up.

Why doesn't someone get a bollard installed on the pavement (to "protect" pedestrians...)

Another thought - Maybe the car parked there doesn't belong to the house and is inconsiderately blocking in some poor parent with their double buggy?

Chris Hutt said...

By the way, you'll notice the planning documents are supplied via a system called IDOX. Well, it seems the Council are having problems with that.

"IDOX - concerns over outdated product functionality,
poor supplier performance and high licensing costs."

SP said...

Love it!

Let's all chip in 20 quid to buy a 200 quid banger and park it there - see what happens.

I'm in.