Car-free Zones

In order to reduce traffic and its detrimental effect on the environment, as well as the amount of space given over to car parking, Local Planning Authorities may designate car-free residential zones. These will normally be areas in or with easy access to the centre of large towns where a wide range of facilities, employment and access to public transport is available within walking distance of the home. In this situation residents are likely to be prepared to sacrifice the benefits of car ownership in exchange for enjoying increased walking/cycling convenience and to enjoy a car-free environment. Where possible, remote car parking should be available within 400m (a 5 minute walk) of homes within the zone. Entirely new car-free zones are relatively new to the UK, though there are a number of continental schemes to be learnt from, notably the Vauban neighbourhood in Freiburg. For town centre zones, remote car parking might be in the form reserved spaces in existing public car parks, perhaps as part of a town centre wide initiative promoted by the local authority. Car clubs are encouraged to further reduce car ownership, parking demand and costs.

Formal restrictions on the property purchase/tenure of residents of car-free zones must be arranged in order to ensure that the initiative is not compromised. Parking restrictions are likely to be required in the vicinity of car-free zones.

As the purpose of a car-free zone is the exclusion of private vehicles, there should be no parking provision either on or off the highway for either residents or visitors. However, provision must be made for access within reasonable proximity of most dwellings for emergency services and deliveries.

The street system should consist of an overall paved surface that reads as ‘pedestrian’ and thus discourages vehicular traffic – i.e. square paving slabs, interlocking clay-block paving, granite or artificial setts, stable blocks or tar spray and shingle dressing. Entrances to the zone should be over a dropped kerb from access streets leading to the zone.

Up to within 45m of the furthest part of the ground floor of the furthest dwelling, the street system of the zone should be laid out to the requirements in the preceding paragraph for access for fire tenders. However, the vehicle path thus determined should not be marked out, the paving being laid between the faces of buildings, walls, garden boundaries, and designed primarily for pedestrian and cycle use. The paved area should contain trees and other suitable obstacles that discourage parking but still allow a free path for delivery and emergency vehicles.

The pedestrian street system should link up with other streets outside the zone and offer a choice of routes through the area, but the Highway Authority will only adopt those streets that form part of a main pedestrian or cycle through route.

Page updated: 24/09/2019

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