London’s air-quality is notoriously bad, and in and effort to clean it up, Mayor Sadiq Khan has proposed several tactics that are being labeled declarations of war on the suburbs by opponents. Most notably, he’s proposing to ban parking spaces from new homes and office buildings located near transit hubs.
“For too long our housing and infrastructure has been built solely around the car,” he said recently, according to the Evening Standard.
The proposal is part of the mayor’s newly released draft London Plan, BBC reports. The plan sets out his vision for the next 25 years and prepares for a population increase of about 3 million people. Other goals include building 65,000 houses each year, half of them below market rate, building higher density housing along new transit lines and refusing building applications on green belt land.
Critics of the document — particularly the parking piece — are in no short supply. But Khan, who has a history of penalizing driving, rather than just incentivizing transit, is unlikely to back down. In January, he proposed a charge for entering the city center to be applied to any driver whose vehicle doesn’t meet emissions standards. The charge took effect last month. He’s also proposed the creation of an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which would impose fees on any gas- or diesel-burning vehicle that didn’t meet certain standards.
As Next City has covered, urban parking minimums aren’t just an environmental burden — they end up being surprisingly expensive, especially in cities with sparse real estate. Developers adhering to them pass the costs on building owners, who pass them on to tenants, Khan’s proposal could end up aiding his affordability goals, as well as his climate goals.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.