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Car Free Conditions no longer used

Why has Brighton and Hove City Council ceased the practice of attaching car-free conditions to planning consents?

The case for avoiding car-free conditions rests on revision of government guidance on Use of planning conditions (revised 23rd July 2019). The latter contains a paragraph [010 Reference ID: 21a-010-20190723] beginning

"A negatively worded condition limiting the development that can take place until a planning obligation or other agreement has been entered into is unlikely to be appropriate in the majority of cases."

The following paragraph reads

"However, in exceptional circumstances a negatively worded condition requiring a planning obligation or other agreement to be entered into before certain development can commence may be appropriate, where there is clear evidence that the delivery of the development would otherwise be at serious risk (this may apply in the case of particularly complex development schemes). In such cases the 6 tests should also be met."

The six tests are that the condition should be:
1. necessary;
2. relevant to planning;
3. relevant to the development to be permitted;
4. enforceable;
5. precise; and
6. reasonable in all other respects.

Some, though not all, planning inspectors have dismissed appeals on the basis that a car-free condition is by nature negatively worded and therefore not valid in the majority of cases.

Car-free conditions also fail to meet test 1 since they are deemed unnecessary as there are other ways of securing car-free housing (i.e. The Transport Team, specifically the Parking Design and Implementation Team, makes a Traffic Regulation Order) which they have the power to do without involving the planning authority.

In line with most planning inspectors, our Council now maintains that car free conditions are not necessary as they duplicate what can already be achieved through parking regulations.

Where does this leave car-free development?

Since the middle of 2021, BHCC has no longer considered it appropriate to attach car-free conditions to planning consents. It is a matter of concern that in the meantime no amendments have been made by the council as the Local Highway Authority to Traffic Regulation Orders relating to development proposals which are considered should be 'car free'. In other words, the Council’s policies on car-free housing have been rendered dormant by the change in approach.

In particular, the Council's main policy for delivering car-free development [Supplementary Planning Document SPD 14 Parking Standards] has been badly compromised now that there is no longer planning authority involvement in assessing the need for car-free development.

When asked how will tracking the need for car-free Traffic Regulation Orders be managed now that The Council no longer attaches car-free conditions to planning consents, Charles Field (Head of Parking Services) disclosed in an email dated 16th May 2022 that "Transport and Parking officers are putting together a policy regarding Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO’s) for car free developments which will be presented to members of the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee in September to agree the way forward."

Brighton and Hove City Council contends that they are still committed to car-free housing. Time will tell.

This page was last updated by Ted on 02-Jul-2022
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