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Commuter Parking in
the Avenues of Harpenden - An increasing problem but a faulted solution.
Yet, there is an alternative to the Council's
plan..... (read on!)
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See the devastating
response received by the Council that argued that the Scheme is inchoate,
incapable and vulnerable to legal challenge.
October 2016 and some progress
a meeting of the SADC Parking Working Party on 05/10/16 it was
announced that the proposed yellow line scheme has been dropped!
This is a
achievement for common sense. Read the summary of the meeting
here below or click on it to view a PDF.
The real problem still needs
a solution so the problems of parking have not yet been solved.
Watch this space.
Read on for the complete history...
Have you any pictures of this problem? Send them to
the webmaster for publication
Harpenden has limited space at its
railway station for those who wish to park there whilst they travel to work on
the train - usually to London. There is frequently a need to find other
places to park.
As a result many Harpenden
commuters now park in the streets of the town because the station car park is
full and/or they can avoid the
considerable regular charges associated with parking at the station or
at any of the other carparks in the town.
Then, on top of this, many
commuters who live to the North of the town soon realise that by driving
further South and parking in Harpenden, not only do they avoid parking charges
but additionally they save a lot by taking a ticket from Harpenden rather than
from their own station. Over £980 each year can be saved by this means if you live
The problem with commuter parking in
the streets of Harpenden is getting very much worse. Only a little while
ago it was easy to pass other vehicles in residential streets by pulling in to
a gap at the side to let the approaching vehicle pass. Such gaps are now are much less
frequent, driver attention is pushed to the limit and there have been several
near-misses. Cars are parked on or near bends, opposite junctions and
sometimes too close to residents' entrances.
The position is already serious near
schools where children need to be dropped off. There are at least three
schools, several businesses and care homes close together in or near the Avenues
and commuter parking already makes life particularly difficult there.
Action is needed but that proposed by
the Council is seen by many, to be unworkable and inadequate.
[Click on the
centre image or here for more examples ►]
The Council's suggested solution - 2016
(NB The consultation on this is now closed. More information is expected
in the Summer of 2016)
In January 2016 St
Albans Council issued a 'detailed' consultation on an extensive Controlled Parking
Zone (CPZ). However this was only sent to those who the Council felt were
currently affected. Their assessment of this has proved to be incorrect and
faulted. Many more roads than these are already affected and
even more will soon be
affected if this scheme is adopted. This website has been set up to make information on
the proposed scheme and the outcome of the consultation more widely available.
Council's January Consultation document, see the areas affected by it.
To open a PDF of the 2016 Consultation Document click
or click on the image of the document to the left.
Responses to this Consultation had to be submitted by March 4th 2016.
Read an alternative possibility before you think you must accept the
inevitable... (see below)
The Council's proposal involves the yellow
lining of all streets that the Council regard as currently affected by commuter
parking, the painting of permitted marked out parking bays, the need for
residents to pay substantial sums annually for the use of one or up to three
bays (with charges reviewed annually too), the issue of permits for the use of
bays, the employment of another 'warden' to patrol the town and a complicated
mechanism whereby the schools in the area may use a specified number of bays at
However many feel that the Council's
proposal beggars belief. The streets that the Council suggest
should be marked out do not even cover all those in which commuters currently
park and the Council have not alerted residents of those streets that are not
proposed to be included in the scheme. Any Traffic Consultant will tell
you that as soon as a part of a town is blocked to parking for any reason, the
problem will move immediately elsewhere. This phenomenon is known as
'Displacement'. Yet despite knowing this (and even recognising it in an
earlier survey!) the Council refuses to notify all
Harpenden residents arguing that:
"When consulting on proposed Traffic Regulation Order the council consults with
the resident and properties directly affected by the proposals ie those road
that will have restrictions implemented on them. As mentioned in your E mail
displacement is possible however it is not know (sic) where this displacement
will go to and it is not appropriate to consult a wider area if no current
parking issues exist in that road.
The Council does make all consultations available on our website and anyone can
comment on the proposals at any stage".
It is clear to all that 'displacement' will occur and that it is also clear that
under the present scheme, commuter parking will extend to all of the town since any part of Harpenden is
within walking distance of the station.
Why then, one might ask, have not all the town been consulted - especially since
in an earlier Council consultation some years back, displacement was accepted as inevitable. Then,
so why not now?
reference, the original consultation reply form is
(or click on the image on the left). Emailed votes or comments to the address
that is given on
the form were accepted by the deadline. Want to see others' comments?
Despite many residents not
being informed, any and all votes/comments sent in by March 4th were taken into consideration.
Many of the streets adjacent to the proposed
area are already affected by commuters on some days. Many of the residents
of these areas had not heard what is about to befall them! For the
Council to say that it is not 'appropriate to consult those who will undoubtedly
come to be affected' is disingenuous to say the least and to some it smacks of
an attempt to get approval by only consulting those currently worse affected.
In fact of course the position is that those,
through no fault of their own, who will come to be worst affected, are
the very people not to be
consulted and who will by then have no say in what does eventually get 'wished on' them.
Some who were or who would be, badly affected felt
that the Council's proposals offered them some hope. However businesses and shops in
the town view the proposals with dread. Many businesses, notably Waitrose
(see part of their response here),
Sainsbury's, M&S, Boots and more, employ staff who have to drive to Harpenden and
who have always been able to park in nearby streets. They cannot afford
the annual bay-parking charges and because their shifts typically involve a
little over 9 hours (an eight hour working day plus lunch plus parking and
walking) they cannot afford the long term charges that apply in the Council car parks.
Harpenden has enough problems maintaining its High Street without adding
staffing to them. Residents
too are concerned by a need to apply for special provision (a derogation order)
when tradesmen need to work on their property. Such obvious restrictions
affect house prices. As well as all this Residents are required to pay
annually (and the charge is reviewed annually too) for each permit to park requested
and a new 'traffic officer' will have to be recruited.
Read what the Herts Advertiser of 25th February
2016 said about this problem
Page 3 of the edition of the Herts Advertiser dated
Thursday 25th February, mentions the concerns that residents have about the
Council's proposed scheme.
Click on the image to the left to read a PDF of the article
||Letter of information sent to some residents not all included
inside the Council's designated area, giving links to necessary information
and stressing the need for a response by March 4th 2016.
2 March 2016
Interim comment from John Charlton at the Council:
closes on 4 March and we will then start reviewing the information contained in
the responses. We have had a number of responses so it could take up to the
middle of May to complete the review. I will then prepare a report for local
Ward Councillors for them to consider. The Ward Councillors will then decide
whether the scheme should be abandoned, amended or progressed unaltered. The
final decision however rest with the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Localism and
Once the decision is made residents will be informed.
I would not expect this decision to be sent out before the Summer.
Please let know if you require anything further."
Environment Compliance Officer - Parking
alternative, by use of a Bye-Law? Something that has not yet been
considered by this Council but has by others...
Some residents have expressed
interest in a wholly different way of achieving the desired result of
preventing unwanted commuter parking which the Council have never properly
considered - though other councils have. You might want St Albans Council to
really consider this even though they will undoubtedly need a push to
get behind it. Mention it in your reply...
All that is needed is a Bye-Law
declaring the whole town of Harpenden an area of no on-street commuter
parking. Notices would then only have to be placed at every road entering the
town. There would be no yellow lines, no designated parking places, no
significant maintenance needed and no need for any regular patrolling by wardens.
Any necessary ‘policing’ would only be triggered by any resident who might be
inconvenienced and/or by one who suspects that a parked vehicle has been there
all day. He/she would then only need to contact the office of traffic control
officers (or of course the Police) with the registration number of the suspect
vehicle and if that car is not owned by a resident of a street near where it
was parked, or is on a maintained list of shop workers' and other valid
vehicles, then and only then, would a visit by an official be needed to
photograph the vehicle, take other details so as to discover if the
Bye-Law had been breached by someone working all day outside the town.
A suitable deterrent penalty
could then be imposed on such people. Yes, at the outset there may well be a
heavy rash of offenders to target but only a few of these need to be pursued and after
some well publicised prosecutions, it will come down.
The proposed system has the
additional advantage that small, isolated and non-troubling parking might not
even need to be reported. There would be no problems with derogation orders,
no restrictions on the numbers of persons visiting any house in Harpenden, no
problems with children of families growing up to own their own car and not be
able to park it and there would be no parking pushed further away from
designated bays as will happen with the present system. There would be no
additional need for provision of places for school parking either. It would be
system where those doing the damage take the rap and not those who are
inconvenienced having been left to pay.
In support of this we note that
Lincolnshire County Council has recently introduced byelaws to
prohibit overnight parking in some places so this approach is possible and it
is to be hoped that the idea might offer a far better solution – one that does
not involve any more expense by St Albans council and of course in annual
permits, by Harpenden residents either.
Chief Operating Officer, Lincolnshire County Council said: “We issued
proceedings against these individuals to enforce the coastal byelaws and the
restrictions on unauthorised overnight parking. We’re pleased that the
individuals and the court have accepted the validity of the byelaws and
sanctions have been imposed accordingly.
Comments by residents with points several people made...
Interested in reading other people's comments?
1. Streetlife is a discussion forum
https://www.streetlife.com/ which currently carries quite a few comments
on the current Harpenden Parking issue. NB You may need to register if
you want to look at it but it's very easy to do. Give it a try. Just search
for 'Harpenden Parking'.
2. Also Harpendia has an entry about this 'fiasco'. It also includes
colour maps of the proposals. Go to
Although I would in principle support a CPZ
scheme, I cannot accept the current design and therefore have checked the no
Harpenden is likely to suffer increasing
pressure for car parking spaces for the following reasons:-
- increased car ownership in general
- housing infills creating more homes
- new housing developments, particularly the
planned huge estate near Cooters Hill Lane (I hear possibly 500 new houses!)
- commuters and travellers from outside Harpenden
who use our station because of its superior links to London, Brighton and
With this in mind, one would hope therefore
that the council is already in the process of facilitating an addition to the
town's car parking assets such as a multi storey car park at the station.
Given this growth in demand, it puzzles me
why the council should introduce piecemeal restrictions that gradually push
away parkers from one area at a cost of increased pressure elsewhere.
Past plans have turned street after street into a parking desert devoid of
cars. This has wasted spaces that could have been made available to benefit
the town and has pushed the cars that used to park there to other
streets which don't have restrictions. So if Salisbury Avenue gets CPZ and
Rosebery and Longcroft opt out, then the ejected Salisbury cars will fill up
Rosebery, then Longcroft. Then they will start on Park Avenue and so
on....Surely, a holistic approach is required!
I have contacted all of the residents in
Salisbury Avenue and spoken to many of them. Virtually everyone is unhappy
with the state of the road and most with commuter/holiday parking. Some,
particularly those living on the (downhill ) East side, have difficulty
entering the road safely due to their vision being obscured by high sided or
over parked vehicles. All of the residents I have talked to however would be
happy for both shoppers and particularly the town's low paid workers to have
access to free or low cost parking on our road.
Most residents would support a scheme that
would reduce parking congestion by excluding commuters, providing that it
properly catered for the workers of the town and made provision for the
residents and shoppers.
The proposed scheme would meet the needs of
the shoppers but not the workers and therefore gets my no vote. The number of
workers permits proposed for the entire town would not even meet the needs of
Waitrose, let alone the other shops and small businesses. The workers in the
town are the lifeblood of Harpenden, are usually very low paid and so need
additional consideration. I don't see any evidence of that in the council
proposals. For your interest, Waitrose have 203 staff, nearly all of whom use
on street parking. However, because Waitrose operates a shift system only
about 1/3 of these actually need parking at any one time. The towns streets
can probably therefore cope with demand and even be thinned out slightly with
a well planned parking system.
I am not sure whether the council has
carried out adequate research. For example, does the council know how many
commuters park on our streets? Does it know how many town workers park on our
streets? I suspect that the answer is no to both questions and if so then I
wonder how the council can devise any sensible parking strategy without an
understanding of those fundamental facts.
I strongly recommend that you rethink this
with a view to producing a scheme that will meet the following criteria. If
you do so, I believe you will produce a system that will alleviate the
concerns of the residents I have spoken to.
1. It should involve all the streets in the
town. All that will happen if you don't is that the commuters will move onto
the next street.
2. Workers passes should be at the lowest
possible cost (say max £30) as they are important for the vitality of
Harpenden and are invariably low paid. The number of passes issued should not
be restricted providing they can prove they work here.
3. Most Commuters and airport workers should
be excluded ( a single restriction of 1 hour during the day should achieve
this). This is tough on commuters but we don't have much choice and their
parking does not benefit the town in the same way as a worker or shopper
parking. However, to help very early morning commuters (e.g London office
cleaners) who are generally low paid, the restriction could be applied in the
4. Residents permits as currently proposed
are reasonable and should be accepted albeit with some complaints.
5. The 36p a day visitors charge is
6. I don't see the need to separate
residents and workers parking areas (as currently proposed). We coexist quite
well together already so why complicate it. Separate areas will make the
system less efficient and administration more complicated.
With regard to Salisbury Avenue, which has
become a rat run, any diminution of parking congestion is likely to increase
traffic road speeds and so speed bumps are a likely consequence.
Finally, you really need to better explain
how the system works because in my conversations, I have noted that some
residents do not understand how this will affect them personally and would
probably vote differently if they did.
I would be happy to discuss this and the
feedback I have received from fellow residents if it would help.
The council have no strategy for
parking in Harpenden, they just implement random plans for groups of streets and
there is no joined up thinking. They are demonising commuters or trying to make
money from them with street parking, pricing the shop workers out of Harpenden
which will further diminish the shops in Harpenden, trying to charge residents
for parking outside their own houses and all with no grand plan.
The Avenues parking plan is a good example of the folly, a large number of
residents don’t want it. Not only that, residents not included in the plan are
already objecting about not having a say and then being forced to accept a
problem that has just moved to their roads.
The council seem to think there is spare capacity in the car parks, the only way
to get a spot is to prowl like a predator following someone with a set of car
keys in their hand. The new 500 houses proposed for NE Harpenden will just make
What it needs is someone in the council to take the lead and create a plan that
will consider the long term future. If we need multi-story car parks, then so
be-it, but let’s not just fudge the issue by short term measures.
If you live in the Avenues return your voting slip and record a 'No' vote before
the 4th March
a resident, I am very grateful to you for bringing the consultation to my
attention – this is the first that I have heard about it. I will certainly
take a look at the Council website and respond by the 4th March.
The scheme is utterly
faulted. It will lead to a major problem for businesses in the town – the last
thing that Harpenden needs, particularly at the moment, Shop staff who already
find it hard to get to, and work in, Harpenden will be additionally disadvantaged
and customers will begin to see the town as no longer a shopping experience of
interest. This is contrary to the Local Plan which seeks to encourage a better
mix of wealth and to encourage resident based employment in the retail sector
and the like.
The proposals to place ANY sort of CPZ in the Avenues will simply push the
commuter parking elsewhere. It will not reduce the actual levels of commuter
parking unless and until the whole of Harpenden is a CPZ since all parts of the
town are within walking distance of the station.
The costs associated with the plan are ridiculous – and this is only for the
initial phase. It is wholly wrong that a plan should be devised whereby the
people causing the problem are subsidised by those who are affected. It is also
wholly wrong that this ‘consultation’ should only be directed at residents
directly affected at this time. The whole of Harpenden town and its rural areas
should be consulted. A vote in favour from such a small part of the town as
currently proposed will simply lead to others having had no vote over what will
ultimately befall them. The implementation of this scheme will have a major
effect on house prices and on the attractiveness of Harpenden to others. Because
traffic will simply park elsewhere a blight will be visited on all of
Harpenden’s housing by this bizarre and inept scheme. The scheme makes no
provision for families whose growing children will need to buy a car of their
own . Such a policy is contrary to normal freedoms.
At the moment large savings are to be had from those driving to Harpenden to
park free, avoid a parking fee AND have a much smaller priced train ticket. It
is wrong that Harpenden residents should suffer from this.
There is an alternative approach – namely that of a town wide Bye Law. This
would involve far less expense, have little or no adverse consequences for
residents and be effective at keeping parking commuters away. Such a system has
been enacted in Lincolnshire for a different though similarly strange problem of
parking. See www.bit.ly/harppark for more details of how this could work.
The presently proposed scheme should be abandoned.
restrictions: I'd like to point out that it isn't only shop keepers we have to
consider. I used to regularly visit a disabled colleague towards the edge of
town who welcomed visitors. But since parking restrictions were imposed in the
area around his house I've hardly visited him: it's such a palaver for him to
find the necessary permit forms and for me to remember the terms of the
restrictions. Following a bad experience when I took him to the L&D (I was fined
a considerable sum for an alleged parking offence and my case failed on appeal
despite it being blindingly obvious from photos that I'd violated no displayed
terms and conditions - a well-known national scandal) I'm not risking it again.
Controlled Parking Zone scheme has been seeping outwards from the town centre
for a few years. Each time it was claimed that no-one would want to park and
walk further than the outer boundary of the scheme, but each time they are
proved wrong and the scheme is expanded. The latest proposal will bring it to
within a couple of hundred yards of our road. Before long, commuters and shop
workers will be parking all day in Barns Dene. This will be inconvenient and
dangerous and will likely lead to Barns Dene being offered CPZ status (at a
cost) and the parking problem passed on to Pondwick and Claygate.
The Harpenden Society
has been contacted by residents about the SADC proposal to introduce parking
restrictions in the Harpenden 'Avenues' area. Only selected residents have been
asked to provide comments on the scheme by the 4th March.
We have been informed that these proposals were first discussed with local
residents as long as three years ago. However, in the interim it is clear that
the environment has changed. Our formerly prosperous High Street is suffering
from empty shop units, and shop workers (many on minimum wage) are saying they
will no longer be able to afford to work in Harpenden if they have to pay for
The Harpenden Society currently does not have an opinion about the advantages
and disadvantages of the particular scheme proposed but it does appear that the
parking situation in Harpenden is now critical. The reasons for the rapid
deterioration appear not to be clearly understood, as Councillor Heritage said
at the recent meeting held at Fowden Hall, Rothamsted to discuss the Strategic
It would therefore seem reasonable to defer a decision on the Avenues parking
scheme until a full investigation into the parking situation in Harpenden is
carried out and a medium to long term strategy developed to plan for the next
decade. This should include a survey to understand who is actually parking and
an estimate of growth for the forthcoming years, taking account of additional
housing and population expansion. Combined with this, a coherent plan for the
provision of parking spaces is essential. It is clear that the piecemeal
approach currently being implemented is not working and just results in the
problem being shifted from one road to the next.
The development of the parking strategy could be carried out by a small team led
by Harpenden Town Council, consisting of officers, councillors, representatives
of the retailers and representatives of the residents.
The Harpenden Society would be more than happy to put forward a representative
if such a team were formed.
Dear Mr Charlton
Consultation on Permit Parking – The Avenues
We write to confirm that we do not agree with the scheme design. However we do
have a suggestion for an alternative.
As presented in your letter of 27 January 2016 to selected residents, we believe
the scheme to be unworkable in practice and it should be abandoned for the
1. The Consultation is itself faulted. The fact is that its planning has failed
properly to consider the well known and predictable aspects of traffic
displacement; as a result, and indeed as disclosed in your recent letter (dated
27 February) no attempt has been made to predict this. Examples of displacement
abound throughout the UK and prediction of it in a town like Harpenden, which is
largely surrounded by Green Belt and where almost all its streets are within
walking distance of the station, is entirely straightforward. It is incorrect to
say that ‘…it is not know (sic) where this displacement will go to… We suggest
that any qualified traffic consultant would have been readily able to identify
such risks for the Council.
2. Subsequent to point one above, the Council then failed to exercise its right
to inform and consult those other residents who might become affected by the
proposed scheme. As a result, if the scheme came to be implemented largely as a
result of this consultation, other residents later affected by displacement
would be faced with the imposition of an already existing scheme without having
first been consulted on it and, at that stage, without any ability to vote for
an alternative and of course without the then-implemented scheme having ever
been designed to cover such an eventuality. That is manifestly unjust.
3. Inexplicably, the scheme as proposed has been cast such that those affected
by the problem of commuter street parking pay for the cost of a supposed
solution yet those who are the root cause of the problem of out-of-town parking,
do not. That is clearly wrong.
4. The scheme as proposed will place unnecessary restrictions on residents, will
have a significant effect on house prices, makes no provision for families whose
growing children will come to need to run a car of their own and it will
therefore seriously impact the attractiveness of Harpenden to others. Because
traffic will simply park elsewhere this scheme will visit a blight upon all of
Harpenden’s housing, not just on the areas currently being considered. That is
unreasonable and, we submit, is entirely unacceptable.
5. The consultation as published does not even cover some streets that are
already the subject of commuter parking. By way of example I refer you to
Moreton Avenue. Just one photographic example of this can be seen at http://www.ppowers.com/info/Avenues/Parking240216.jpg.
There are others.
6. Moreton Avenue and Moreton End Lane provide access to three schools and a
nursing home. Moreton Avenue actually forms a junction with two of the worst
commuter-affected roads in Harpenden (Douglas Road and Salisbury Avenue) and so
increased displacement into those will be certain. That will then expand an
existing problem since these roads are heavily used at certain times of the day.
It is a serious omission in the plans for any parking scheme not to consider
such issues. Clearly a complete survey of the Avenues parking problem has yet to
be made. Perhaps one made to an adjusted Lambeth Methodology might be
7. Commuter parking in the Avenues has been a problem for years but it has
increased dramatically recently and this consultation’s ideas for control of it
seem only to be considering the problem of years ago, not this recent
considerable increase. Parking in the Avenues is inconsiderate and can be found
opposite road junctions (see that picture of Moreton Avenue referred to above)
and even on bends and pavements. The need for vehicles to negotiate passing
where no gap in the parked cars exists, represents a danger not just to the
vehicles involved but also because drivers have to switch their concentration
away from those - especially children - who might be stepping out from between
vehicles and thus may not be observed quickly enough. A far better plan is
8. The current problem must surely have at its root the astonishing financial
benefit that there is to be had for those who park in Harpenden’s streets. Such
people incur no parking charge and, by travelling here from more northerly
towns, many can additionally benefit from a much reduced season ticket price
too. Someone who today drives from Bedford (a journey of only some 25 miles each
way) can benefit from an annual saving of approximately £980.00 in this way. It
is entirely wrong that Harpenden residents should suffer the danger and
inconvenience of commuter and airport parking simply in order to provide
benefits to those who cause the inconvenience and danger in the first place.
9. The scheme as proposed is astonishingly and unnecessarily complicated. Not
only that but a consequence of it is that residents affected by the scheme will
be required to obtain a derogation order whenever tradesmen need to park to
undertake significant work.
The so called ‘provision’ by which visitors may park in CPZs is just not
practical for those who are elderly or disabled. Just one example: We have
recently heard of one Harpenden resident who regularly used to visit a disabled
colleague who welcomed visitors and who lives towards the edge of town. But,
since similar CPZ parking restrictions have been imposed in the area around his
house, he has hardly been visited. It's ‘such a palaver’ for him to find the
necessary permit forms and for him to remember the terms of the restrictions. It
is plainly ridiculous for vulnerable people to be subjected to this. For the
possibility of that becoming the norm in most of Harpenden is frightening. The
design of the present scheme has all the appearance of it being ill-conceived
from the outset and needing addition after addition in an attempt to overcome
the inevitable problems.
10. The scheme is faulted in other respects too. It will lead to a problem for
businesses in the town. Many shop assistants already find it hard to get to, and
work in, Harpenden; yet they haven’t been properly considered. They have for
years driven in and parked carefully and sensibly in nearby streets. Their doing
so over a long period of time has represented no problems for residents. These
persons simply cannot afford the parking charges the council already levies in
Harpenden’s car parks, particularly when their need is frequently for nine hour
parking. These staff will be further disadvantaged under this proposed scheme
and may even be required to purchase permits which they just cannot afford. The
problem doesn’t end with the smaller shops either. It is now known to be a
serious concern for Waitrose, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Boots, surgeries and more.
Customers will soon begin to see the town as no longer a shopping experience of
interest. It is clear that these problems have hardly been considered by those
who devised this scheme, one which is surely now contrary to the Local Plan and
to Government advice? After all the Local Plan seeks to encourage nearby based
employment in the retail sector – particularly so given the increasing problems
of premises closure in Harpenden. It cannot be right for the council now to be
suggesting a scheme that will so dramatically and adversely affect the town.
11. The council are apparently on record as thinking that there is spare
capacity in the various town car parks which could or should be used by
commuters . Can this really be true? If so it must surely be yet another reason
to suspect that an inadequate survey has been conducted before this proposal
ever saw the light of day. Parking to shop in Harpenden is a nightmare. The new
500+ houses proposed for NE Harpenden will just make things even worse. Station
parking should be extended to several stories and additional town parking
provided in a similar way. There appears to be naïve thinking regarding the need
for cars. There is no simple division between disabled and non-disabled
motorists such as the blue badge scheme implies. There is a continuum of
disability in life where some can walk down and back up the hill with some
shopping but not a lot. For local parking to be as bad as it is (and of course
as bad as it will further get) is simply to condemn the High Street shops to
seeing their potential customers buying only a few items - if that - at each
visit. For the town to thrive a minimum of two hours of free nearby car parking
is needed for every resident and that parking needs to exclude commuters and
12. A Solution. Even adequate parking will not stop the commuters unless the
parking charge for them exceeds that for the station. Another way is called for.
A ‘Park and Ride’ system might be feasible and it certainly might be
investigated but it will still not prevent those who think they can get away
with paying nothing. A far better approach is for the County Council to
implement a Bye-Law that prohibits commuter and airport street parking in the
whole of Harpenden. Notices would then only have to be placed at every road
entering the town. There would be no yellow lines, no other signage, no
designated parking places, no permits, no visitor compliance forms, no
significant maintenance needed, no need for derogation orders and no need for
any regular patrolling by enforcement officers – let alone the need to recruit
one more. Any necessary ‘policing’ need only be triggered by a resident who
might be inconvenienced and/or by one who suspects that a parked vehicle has
been there all day. He/she would then only need to telephone the office of
traffic control officers (or of course the Police) with the registration number
of the suspect vehicle and if that car is not owned by a resident of a street
near where it was parked, or is not on a maintained list of shop workers’ and
other valid vehicles, then and only then, would a visit by an official be needed
to photograph the vehicle to take other details and thereafter to discover if
the Bye-Law had been breached by someone parking whilst working all day outside
After further enquiry of the driver, a suitable deterrent penalty could then be
imposed on people found to have breached the Bye-Law. Yes, at the outset there
may well be a heavy rash of offenders to target and a few out-of-town tradesmen
who frequently work in Harpenden, and forget to register but only a few of these
will need to be pursued and after some well publicised prosecutions, the numbers
The proposed system has the further advantage that small, isolated and
non-troubling parking might not even need to be reported. There would be no
problems with derogation orders, no restrictions on the numbers of persons
visiting any house in Harpenden, no problems with children of families growing
up to run their own car and not be able to park it and there would be no parking
pushed further away from designated bays as will happen with the present system.
There would be no additional need for provision of places for school parking
either. It would be a fully viable system where those creating the problem pay
and those who are inconvenienced by their actions do not.
In support of this we note that Lincolnshire County Council has recently
introduced byelaws to prohibit overnight parking in some places, so this
approach is entirely possible and it is to be hoped that the idea might offer a
far better solution – one that does not involve any ongoing expense by St Albans
Council and of course in annual permits, by Harpenden residents either. See the
summary of some of the legal issues overleaf.
Steve Willis, Chief Operating Officer, Lincolnshire County Council has said of
their scheme: “We issued proceedings against these individuals to enforce the
coastal byelaws and the restrictions on unauthorised overnight parking. We’re
pleased that the individuals and the court have accepted the validity of the
byelaws and sanctions have been imposed accordingly.
RE:Proposed parking consultation The Avenues Harpenden
“consultation, is a regulatory process by which the public's input on matters
affecting them is sought. Its main goals are in improving the efficiency,
transparency and public involvement in large-scale projects or laws and
I am objecting to the proposals suggested by SADC on these points.
1. As stated above a consultation should involve the PUBLIC and yet a good
proportion of people who will be affected by this have not been properly
consulted. This is evidenced by the fact that the response paper has clearly
been designed with the residents in mind and not the public users of the roads
affected. A road unless stated is not owned by its residents but is public and
therefore the public users should have been consulted properly. This has clearly
not been done as not all roads affected have been targeted and businesses have
not been given an appropriate feedback form. Consultation Principles 23016
clearly states “Consultations should be targeted. Consider the full range of
people, business and voluntary bodies affected by the policy, and whether
representative groups exist.”
2. The maps that go with this proposal are not clear enough and this goes
against the Consultation Guidelines set down by the government whereby
consultations should be “clear and concise”
3. If this is proposal were to go ahead it is going to have a detrimental effect
on the viability of the town as it will prevent both shoppers and workers from
accessing the area. A town is nothing without a good range of shops ,as
witnessed in Dunstable when parking restrictions were applied, and if workers
cannot park and shoppers cannot park then they will go elsewhere and shops will
struggle to stay on the High Street. Without shops people will not find the area
quite so desirable and migration to other areas offering better facilities is
likely. At that point house prices could decline and along with that the status
of the area.
4. As retail workers, wages are consistently not high and yet we are going to be
expected to pay for a permit which will not guarantee a space but just means I
could park if there is one available. I would suggest then that SADC will be
taking money off me under false pretences as I will be paying for a service but
not receiving it in return?
5. There has been no alternative parking proposed should this scheme happen
which is both short-sighted and unhelpful. To suggest workers can go elsewhere
only highlights the fact the SADC are not actually aware of the lack of
facilities available in Harpenden. Most of the car parks don't allow the times
that a shop worker would need or are going to be too expensive for workers to
pay bearing in mind their earning capabilities. The fact that SADC consider that
156 permits is enough for workers in Harpenden indicates just how out of touch
they are with regard to parking needs in the whole of the town.
6. I understand that under the FOI Act no incidences or accidents have occurred
in The Avenues so the reasons behind the need to put the scheme in place are at
best flawed and worst ill thought out and untrue.
7. If the proposal has been put in place to deter commuters what survey has been
carried out to ascertain who is commuting and who is a local worker? I would
suggest none so this demonstrates again that a proper consultation has not been
carried out. Has SADC approached Network Rail to expand the railway parking area
so that commuter road parking could be alleviated?
I would hope that SADC consider other options rather than go ahead with his
scheme. In doing so you will only be pushing the parking problem further out and
this then suggests that this proposal has been undertaken on a “not in my back
yard “ process which surely does not warrant such measures affecting so many for
the sake of so few.
Dear Mr Charlton,
I am totally against the proposed parking scheme in The Avenues Harpenden and
would like to register my objection to this.
I am a town worker and this proposal is going to stop shop workers from being
able to access their jobs and provide a retail service to Harpenden.
No alternatives have been offered, car parking if available is cost prohibitive
for low income earners like shop assistants and the consultation guidelines set
down by the government do not seem to have been followed.
I understand this will go to various people for consideration but the final
decision will be made by the Portfolio holder for Localism and Community
Please can you tell me whether this will be a meeting to which the public can
attend and when.
Comments on the
Council’s Proposed Scheme for parking in the Avenues
1. The Council’s
On 27th January 2016, St Albans City & District Council (the “Council”) wrote to
the residents of certain roads in Harpenden setting out its “detailed proposal
for the permit parking scheme for the Avenues area” (the “Proposed Scheme”).
In that letter, the Council confirmed that its goals for the Proposed Scheme
were as follows:
“The scheme is intended to stop all day commuter parking which then allows space
for residents and their visitors to park near their homes and improve residents
[sic] access to their properties and workers from Harpenden town centre
businesses to park. The scheme will also improve road safety through amended and
new yellow lines.”
The Council did not however seek to bring its Proposed Scheme to the attention
of residents in all the roads that will be affected by it. In this context, the
Council confirmed in an email to a local resident on 23rd February 2016 that:
“When consulting on [a] proposed Traffic Regulation Order the council consults
with resident [sic] and properties directly affected by the proposals ie those
road [sic] that will have restrictions implemented on them. As mentioned in your
Email displacement is possible however it is not know [sic] where this
displacement will go to and it is not appropriate to consult a wider area if no
current parking issues exist in that road.
“The Council does make all consultations available on our website and anyone can
comment on the proposals at any stage.”
For the reasons outlined briefly below, the Proposed Scheme is inchoate and
incapable, in its current form, of achieving the Council’s stated objectives. In
addition, the consultation procedure adopted by the Council in respect of the
Proposed Scheme is flawed and in breach of the legitimate expectations of local
residents who will be affected by displacement parking caused by the Proposed
Scheme (if implemented) but who have not been directly informed about the
Proposed Scheme by the Council.
2. Acknowledged displacement parking
As noted above, in its email of 23rd February 2016 the Council acknowledged that
its Proposed Scheme could cause displacement parking but claimed that it did not
know into which roads the commuter parking would be displaced. The Council’s
current stance on displacement parking is both untenable and inconsistent with
the approach that it adopted in 2012.
The Council has acknowledged that the problem with all-day parking in the
Avenues is caused by itinerant commuters and not by local residents. By imposing
parking restrictions in certain roads in the Avenues, the Council will not
actually prevent the itinerant commuters from parking in Harpenden. Instead, it
will simply cause them to park in adjoining roads which are not subject to
parking restrictions. The Council cannot reasonably reach any other conclusion
about the effect of its Proposed Scheme.
The reasonableness of this conclusion is confirmed by the approach adopted by
the Council in 2012 when it proposed, among other things, to impose parking
restrictions in Orchard Avenue, even though it acknowledged that there was no
problem with commuter parking in that road at the time. In Appendix 4 to its
letter to certain residents in November 2012, the Council justified this parking
restriction in Orchard Avenue on the basis that it was being introduced:
“to anticipate the displacement parking that is likely to occur should the
controls be introduced in the wider area.” (Emphasis added.)
Thus, by its conduct in 2012, the Council confirmed that it could and indeed
should anticipate the displacement parking in an adjoining road that would be
caused by the parking scheme which it proposed at that time. The Council’s
failure to anticipate and address the displacement parking that will be caused
by its current Proposed Scheme is a substantial defect with that Scheme.
In practice, approximately three and a half years after the Council’s proposal
of November 2012, the parking situation in Harpenden has deteriorated and, due
to their increased numbers, itinerant commuters now often park towards the
eastern end of Orchard Avenue as well as the eastern end of Park Avenue South
and the southern end of Maple Road. It is clear, therefore, that if the roads
between the town centre and Orchard Avenue, Park Avenue and Maple Road are
subjected to parking restrictions, more itinerant commuters will simply park in
these three adjoining roads where parking is not restricted (and almost
certainly in other proximate roads too as the Council’s Proposed Scheme is, on
its own figures, intended to displace up to 730 parked cars). In the
circumstances, merely seeking to address such displacement parking in this
locality by preventing it occurring in Orchard Avenue, as the Council suggested
in 2012, would clearly be an inadequate response to the current situation. The
Council needs to recognize that all the roads which adjoin, or are otherwise
proximate to, the area covered by the current Proposed Scheme will suffer from
displacement parking if the Proposed Scheme is implemented.
3. The Proposed Scheme
is substantively flawed
As noted above, in its letter of 27th January 2016 the Council confirmed that it
has the following two goals for its Proposed Scheme:
(i) “to stop all day commuter parking”; and
(ii) to “improve road safety” in the town.
The Proposed Scheme is incapable, in its current form, of achieving either of
The Proposed Scheme seeks, in effect, to prohibit all-day commuter parking in
certain roads in Harpenden. However, by its own admission, the Council has not
had due regard to the fact that if the Proposed Scheme is adopted, itinerant
commuters will simply seek out the nearest road in which parking is not
restricted and park there. Shifting the problem of all-day commuter parking from
one group of roads in Harpenden to another group of roads will not fulfil the
Council’s goal of stopping such parking.
In the Q&As attached to its letter of 27th January 2016, the Council erroneously
claims that the Parking Scheme will achieve its goal and “benefit the town as
parking space will be free from all day commuter [sic]”. For the reasons
outlined above, that claim is clearly false as even if the Proposed Scheme were
adopted, all-day commuter parking would continue in Harpenden, albeit in
The Council’s second goal of improving road safety will also not be achieved by
forcing itinerant commuters to park in different roads. If, as the Council
acknowledges, all-day commuter parking can cause road safety issues, then the
road safety issues will still arise when, following the introduction of the
Proposed Scheme, itinerant commuters start parking in greater numbers in roads
such as Orchard Avenue, Park Avenue and Maple Road. In addition, in this regard,
it is notable that a number of years ago all-day commuter parking started to
occur on the blind bend at the top (western end) of Rothamsted Avenue. It took
the Council a long time to introduce the Traffic Regulation Order which allowed
for parking restrictions to be introduced on that dangerous bend. Whilst this
laborious process was taking place, itinerant commuters continued to park all
day on this bend causing a very hazardous situation for local residents. In
light of this past problem, the Council must take particular note of the fact
that Park Avenue is essentially a long curve with blind bends on both the
Southern and the Northern halves of the road. If the Council were to implement
its Proposed Scheme without anticipating and addressing the displacement parking
which will result in Park Avenue, the Council will actually cause material new
road safety issues on this road.
4. The Council’s
consultation is partial and unfair
In addition to these substantive defects with the Council’s Proposed Scheme, the
Council has failed to discharge its public law duty to consult fully and fairly
before introducing this Scheme.
All the residents of Harpenden have a legitimate expectation that the Council
will not introduce new parking restrictions which cause parking problems and
road safety issues in the roads where they live. Therefore, before any new
parking restrictions are introduced which may have that effect, the Council must
notify and consult fully with all the residents in roads which could be
affected, not just those where the restrictions will actually be imposed. As is
explained above, the Council has failed to do this.
In addition, it should be noted that in the response form that the Council has
distributed to certain roads in Harpenden, the Council is effectively conducting
a poll as the form invites respondees to tick a box, ‘yes’ or ‘no’, to say
whether they agree with the Proposed Scheme. The Council has, however, only
distributed this form to the roads which are currently the focus of all-day
commuter parking. One could infer that residents in those roads would be more
inclined to tick the ‘yes’ box as the Proposed Scheme is designed to move the
all-day commuter parking out of their roads. The Council has, however, not
distributed this form to the roads into which the all-day commuter parking will
be displaced. One could infer that residents in those roads would be more likely
to tick the ‘no’ box as their immediate environment would undoubtedly suffer if
the Proposed Scheme were introduced in its current form.
As noted above, in its email of 23rd February 2016, the Council claims that its
consultation is available on its website and anyone can comment. However, few if
any people in Harpenden will spend their time checking the Council’s website to
see if it is about to introduce some new parking restrictions which will
adversely affect their road. Thus it is clear that notwithstanding the
availability of the consultation on the Council’s website, the Council is not
consulting fairly on the Proposed Scheme as it has directly canvassed the views
of those who are more likely to say ‘yes’ whilst not directly canvassing the
views of those who are more likely to say ‘no’. Rigging the ballot in this way
in favour of a ‘yes’ vote is not a legitimate basis on which to proceed with the
5. Next steps
In the Q&As attached to its letter of 27th January 2016, the Council states that
the possible next steps are “to proceed with the scheme to formal consultation
on the legal documents, carry out further consultation or abandon the scheme”.
In light of the myriad defects outlined above, any attempt by the Council to
proceed with the Proposed Scheme in its current form would undoubtedly be
vulnerable to legal challenge via Judicial Review.
Therefore, the Council only has two options in practice:
(i) to modify the Proposed Scheme so as to provide a total solution to the
problem of all-day commuter parking in Harpenden (and not just shift the problem
to different roads). Such a total solution would also need to make adequate
provision for the people who work in the town (pative solution to
this problem (such as the possible adoption of a bye-law which prohibits all-day
parking in the town by itinerant commuters, as proposed by another local
Either way, the Council must consult fully and fairly before seeking to proceed
with any new parking scheme.
In conclusion, Harpenden needs a viable solution to the current and growing
problem of all-day parking in the town by itinerant commuters but, in light of
the profound defects outlined above, the Council’s Proposed Scheme is not it.
Many thanks for the
letter re the above ( received today ) and also for the link to the webpage and
good advice re the by law.
I have just added my voice by emailing my comments to John Charlton at SADC.
We can but hope they will see sense – although that is not a commodity in great
supply at SADC.
Again not only do I
take on board your comments, but I totally agree with them. I would reiterate
that as your ward councillor I will be opposing implementation of this proposed
scheme. For your information my understanding is that my fellow [Councillor]
also shares my views.
Dear Mr Charlton
I am a resident of Moreton Avenue concerned to ensure the Council does not make
silly or incorrect decisions about the fast growing and oppressive parking
problem in the Avenues.
The proposal has been drawn to my attention by a concerned neighbour. I have now
read the consultation papers and my comments presented in the format of your
consultation questionnaire are as follows:
1 To allow us to
attribute your comments to the right road can you tell us what road you live on:
2 Do you agree with the design of the scheme? NO
3 Any further comments on the design of the scheme?
It appears extremely
likely that the proposed scheme will move the problem but not solve it. The aim
of the scheme is to stop all daily commuter parking and improve road safety but
the proposals will not achieve these aims. Commuter parking will simply move to
neighbouring streets including Moreton Avenue.
Implementing the proposed scheme will be complicated and expensive and it will
create parking difficulties for residents in the scheme area as well as nearby
roads outside the scheme area.
A more flexible but strongly enforceable scheme is needed. Residents in the area
know which cars are those of their neighbours and which are all day commuters.
You should therefore consider changing the town by laws to make Harpenden as a
whole a “no commuter parking town”. The wording of the by law would aim to make
enforcement simple. For example, “Harpenden is a town in which everyone is
limited to 4 hours parking unless a resident of the street in which you park”.
Other thoughts to achieve a similar aim should be considered. Having done that,
place signs in all the problem streets warning of a fine of £xxx where suspected
all day commuter parking activity occurs. Upset residents may then report the
suspected offences. Residents would be advised that all suspected parking
offences must be reported by 11 am. Parking wardens will be redirected to
investigate and take timed photos of the suspected commuter cars. Parking
wardens would return after 4 hours and take photos again of all cars still
parked and issue fine notices.
It takes time for
the council to respond!
However our MP has
been very supportive:
We chased the Council in
And again in May, this time to the
And Harpenden Town Council
Keep coming back....!
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