Transport assessment of Santon/LDC planning application
This review has been carried out by Ferrie van Echtelt. I have been a Lewes resident since 2008.
My relevant working experience has been in the sustainable energy/transport sector. My most relevant and recent experience has been working for a social enterprise creating new viable and sustainable shared electric car/van club schemes. Before that I have worked for a corporate venture developing electric vehicle charging partnerships with key electric vehicle manufacturers.
Currently I am self-employed and a freelance sustainable entrepreneur. My review is intended to share my experience and to constructively frame new opportunities that help to align multiple interests of Santon, LDC and Lewes residents.
Part 1 – Key elements of proposed parking, car clubs and electric vehicle charge approach
I have reviewed 30 documents relating to the Santon Transport Assessment and there appear to be three documents where references and some brief information is provided:
3. SDNP_15_01146_FUL TRANSPORT_ASSESSMENT_AND_TRAVEL_PLAN_REV_00_PART_9-480738
My understanding is that in the Planning Application documents it is envisaged there will be 694 parking spaces in total presenting “no loss” of parking space compared to the current capacity in Lewes:
Of these, 178 parking spaces will be provided on-street and on-curtilage for residential parking only.
Of the remaining 516 spaces, 508 parking spaces will be provided in the public car park under the podium and a further 8 spaces will be provided above the podium.
At least 320 spaces of these will be used by the public and the remaining will be allocated as permits to residents and staff (for commercial use purposes).
A two tiered parking permit (day time and evening/overnight) and resident and visitor permits can be purchased.
A fully automatic car parking charging and management system will be put in place
B. Car Club
A provision for two car club vehicles is foreseen for phase 1, based on 1 petrol and 1 hybrid car.
A third can be added as demand is proven.
Co-Wheels is mentioned as the only car club they have spoken to.
C. Electric Vehicle charge points
5 charge points are foreseen in the Undercroft car park
Part 2 – Initial observations and comments
Overall this scheme appears to come across as well-intended but is missing a bold vision of how an electric car and van club can set in motion in one go a lot of other transformations, creating truly thriving communities respecting and encouraging the cultural and creative diversity present in the various Lewes communities. It requires close working relationships and champions.
The proposal is falling short of seizing this opportunity to make a significant positive contribution to some of the main issues Lewes is facing:
Local air-pollution and potential health implications (Lewes is subject to an Air Quality Management Area warning)
Insufficient affordable housing and business premises.
Car and van ownership is becoming more and more unaffordable.
Congestion on roads and parking spaces in certain areas and times is creating local resident resentment.
Access to affordable transport is or will be increasingly a key issue for many different people and businesses (younger / unemployed generations, small businesses, free lancers, community groups, older / less able people). So the design and deployment should take these differing and overlapping needs into account.
Santon seems to have gone for the easiest (not necessarily the best) option to incorporate a car club: 1 petrol and 1 hybrid car. It therefore comes across as a ticking the box approach (e.g. having consulted briefly one car club and having made provisions for 5 electric vehicle charge points). If there is more detailed info available, I look forward to studying that of course.
The availability of car parking spaces takes center stage in the proposed plans
This may partially create its own (unintended) obstacles in achieving significant reduction of car / van traffic and in air pollution.
Helping to transform the eco system of living / working / travelling requires a holistic and coherent design of transport options with the right incentives and nudges to shift to a set of sustainable (financially and environmentally) AND convenient options.
This is clearly not happening with the creation of more than 600 parking spaces and will not incentivise people to give up their vehicle.
It may well be that there is an expectation by LDC to retain a certain parking revenue stream?
So questions re. the Santon Transport assessment remain…
Number of car club vehicles – Why two car club vehicles?
2/3 vehicles is unlikely enough to reach the inflection point at which businesses and residents would actually shift to using electric van/car club vehicles (the fear of unavailability when it really matters)
However at this stage there is insufficient traffic / travel journey insight to make an informed decision on the most optimal number of vehicles and on the viability of a different types of vehicles (e.g. cars and vans) is required. (This is disappointing as a significant amount of analysis is available on traffic and journey volumes as carried out by consultants but crucial information has not been included)
Therefore additional insight needs to be obtained re. the actual or envisaged journey patterns of different user groups, based on time, predictability of demand, journey distance and journey duration which are key to actually understand the potential scope for shifting business and residents, charities etc. to use electric van and electric car club vehicles.
Electric Vehicle Charge points
Why 5? And why in the envisaged locations? (Dual charge posts are more economical than having one bay with one charge post) so at least prescribe 4 or 6). Wall mounted charge posts again are more economical.
What are the agreements for charging infrastructure support?
Separating the allocation of car club vehicles from the bays required for charging infrastructure seems a big wasted opportunity.
Not combing electric vehicle car club vehicles with at least part of the expensive EV charge points is a missed opportunity because people owning EVs will most likely still have it parked doing nothing most of its operational life.
What has been the involvement of local residents, community groups and businesses so far in understanding their habits and needs and wants in access to car or vans?
Studies suggest that vehicles can cost annually between £3.5K to £5K but are on average used (being driven) less than 25% over its lifetime. This means a huge waste. Or turning it onto its head: this a great opportunity.
And 1 (electric) car club vehicle could potentially avoid 10-17 polluting cars (CarPlus 2014 survey among other sources) from being on the road and provide access to 10 people who’d share access to a car/van club vehicle
(subject to their different driving needs (day of week time of day / duration / distance)
Santon/LDC have a once in a life-time chance to deliver a transformational project in which seemingly divergent/opposing interests can be aligned.
For example, what if Santon / LDC instead of almost 700 cars and/or car parking spaces they allow for 300? (Other scenarios need to be evaluated based on a new feasibility study.)
At the same time they’d allocate a proportion of those 300 parking places to an increased number to electric and van club vehicles. For example, let’s say for argument’s sake 25 will be designated to electric car/van club vehicles catering let’s say for 250 people / business users now. And 5 spaces and charge points can be made available to electric vehicle owners (residents or visitors).
This means 270 parking places are remaining for car parking for visitors or people who want to own their own car/van. People who absolutely want and need their own car would be expected to pay a premium (TBA) given they’d forego a readily available cleaner alternative way of accessing a car.
There could be an allowance to provide certain dispensations for critical professions (nurses, GPs, etc.).
Second-car ownership would be strongly discouraged again as there would be a readily available alternative.
The freed up space previously allocated to 400 parking spaces can now be used to build more affordable housing or for other more valuable designated uses. (Please note, this is an example only. The real numbers need to come from further detailed feasibility study.)