Sam Davies

On the verge …

Anyone walking our streets this summer cannot fail to notice the number of vehicles routinely parked on verges. For months now there has been a particular cluster on the short section of Queen Edith’s Way between Nightingale Avenue and Wulfstan Way. On occasion I have counted as many as 13 vans and cars parked along this stretch, which is barely more than 100m long. This (taken a couple of months ago) was one of the more outrageous examples of how legitimate users of this space are then inconvenienced and endangered:

I have remonstrated with drivers and called out Parking Enforcement officers more times than I can remember. I’ve also discussed it with County Cllr Alex Beckett and County Highways Officers, but the evidence is that these efforts have failed to reduce the problem. And that’s because what we’re seeing on Queen Edith’s Way is simply a concentrated version of what residents all over the city are experiencing, namely a huge surge in the number of properties undergoing major extensions/
refurbishments.

Look at this image taken from the City Council planning portal:

Of the 19 residential properties along that stretch, 8 have had planning approval given for major works (mostly two-floor extensions) since late 2019. Given the delays in executing those approvals caused by the pandemic, it’s not surprising that much of this work is now going on simultaneously. And with multiple trades attending each site, it’s simply not possible for their vehicles to be accommodated within the red line. So vehicles end up on the verges, whatever assurances are given in a Construction Management Plan, and in such numbers that no enforcement activity is capable of dealing with the scale of the problem.

People have a right to develop their property, and given the financial incentives which the Cambridge property market provides, they are inevitably going to want to maximise the value generated by doing so, and hence the scale of the development. BUT this also generates unmanaged negative externalities to which we simply don’t seem to have an effective solution. I’ve raised it with Exec Cllr for Planning, Building Control and Infrastructure, Katie Thornburrow, in the hope that we can find a better policy approach in the next Local Plan. But I’m not holding my breath.

Sam Davies

6 comments

  • I heard it said that folk living on Mowbray Road had “elected” years ago to have a parking-on-the-verges ban in their neighbourhood

    Could that be done along QEW, or City-wide even?

    Just a thought ……..

  • Thank you Sam it is truly grim pavement and verge parking throughout the whole of the UK. Do Cambs County Council have data of the amount of money spent repairing all the damage caused? I know I use their online reporting tool a lot from road signage damaged by drivers to much more. I reside in Trumpington & and the volume of thoughtless, inconsiderate and selfish parking is astounding at times but to most commonplace and completely acceptable. Damaged verges, trees & other plants that can’t grow, endless damage to infrastructure and ground surfaces. One example, two neighbouring households dug up land that was not theirs so th no permission (county council) and placed tarmac so that they could fit more vehicles on their property. But that isn’t enough they drive up and down the footpaths to then access their properties even though they have drives across footpaths and dropped kerbs and then also continue to park on the verge. Endless vehicle creep will continue despite the works of Living Streets. https://stumblingstreets.com/gallery/ Many more examples, but there is also the mentality of residents believing they have the right to park in front of their property. Some may, but many don’t, it is a public space for all and paid by all tax payers. As for trades vehicles when did dropping off materials/tools and then parking legally and considerately become such a rare occurrence. Anyway rant over, I don’t have the answer either. Except using Japan as a model. https://www.reinventingparking.org/2014/06/japans-proof-of-parking-rule-has.html?m=1

  • Ooh, this has prompted me to go back and look up – yet again – to see whether the Government has yet published its response to the 2020 Pavement Parking consultation … turns out there was an adjournment debate on the subject in March this year:
    https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2023-03-13/debates/4479BB2C-49BD-47FD-9C76-5149A8A12DF7/PavementParking
    – but despite the Minister’s assurance then that “we are aiming to publish as soon as is practically possible” it seems that we are still waiting.
    https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/managing-pavement-parking

  • What about having a ‘verge parking fee’: used to restore verges and pay for the management of restoration and pay for enforcement? Property development adds money to the developers and this money should not be from the backs of Council tax payers. Planning applications should add this fee demanded by the Council to the present element required before planning approval is given and paid before work can start. Any application would need to specify the extent of the verge/road parking as part of the application.. Banning verge parking completely is bound to find an alternative horror. However, blocking the footpath should certainly be banned. I now have to use a rollator for most of my walking and I have to say that I am only very rarely blocked by a van. Like all rules, unless enforcement is possible they are uselesss so that an element to pay for enforcement is essential.