During our first phase of consultation, traffic and parking was the key area of discussion. We appreciate that existing residents have concerns about the potential impact of our proposals on the local road network and on levels of parking in the local area.
Listening to the feedback we received, we have updated our proposals to significantly increase the car parking provision within the scheme – increasing this from 28% to 44% provision.
But we also appreciate that the provision of parking is only one aspect of a comprehensive transport plan.
The first priority of our transport plan is to make it clear to our residents that they should have no need for a car to enjoy life here in East Didsbury.
One of the key reasons we chose this site was its proximity to public transport. Across the Dandara Living portfolio of properties, the majority of our residents do not own cars, so easy and reliable access to public transport is absolutely essential to us.
With the East Didsbury Metrolink station, East Didsbury rail station and several bus stops on the doorstep, these public transport connections provide quick and easy access to Manchester city centre, the rest of Greater Manchester, as well as national and international connections.
Especially for those residents working in Manchester city centre, of which we expect a significant proportion of our residents will do, public transport is by far the quickest, cost effective and most pleasant way to access the city centre.
Car-free living will also be facilitated by easy access to the Tesco superstore as well as other shopping, eating out and leisure destinations within the thriving Didsbury community. These local amenities are all accessible via the network of local walking and cycle paths.
As we all look towards a lower carbon future, it makes sense to deliver new homes on previously developed land in locations with good access to public transport, high quality walking and cycling connections and local amenities on the doorstep. This site ticks all of these boxes.
Across our portfolio, the majority of our residents do not want car parking spaces. We typically provide parking at 35-45% (i.e. one space for every two or three apartments) but we are finding that even at this level, our spaces are not fully occupied, with our need for parking spaces currently hovering at around 30-35% of our total number of apartments.
A British Property Federation Report (2017) confirms our experience, highlighting evidence from the Department for Communities and Local Government that tenure has an impact on car ownership, with occupiers of rented accommodation having fewer cars than owner-occupied homes. ONS data (2018) showed that 45% of households in furnished rental properties had a car, compared to 89% of owner occupiers.
Owning and running a car is expensive and we find many of our residents are choosing to opt away from such costs when they don’t need a car. This might be because they are saving to buy a home or have easy access to other travel choices such as cycle or car clubs.
There is growing demand for rental properties through choice rather than inability of home ownership. Many of our residents choose the flexibility and ease that renting provides and this mindset also translates into other areas such as car ownership – using public transport or a car club rather than having the hassle or commitment of owning a car.
There is increasing interest and support towards the climate change agenda, particularly in younger generations who actively seek out a lifestyle of social conscience. We are finding a growing expectation from our residents towards social and environmental responsibility.
Our national experiences are echoed in the Greater Manchester Transport Strategy: 2040, which states that “attitudes to owning and using a car are also evolving. Many younger people no longer see car ownership, or indeed a driving licence, as essential.” The approach set out within the Strategy “opens the way for a future where car ownership is not considered essential, and residents can choose from a range of sustainable and efficient travel options – public transport, ride sharing, car sharing/hire, walking, cycling or taxi”.
Despite the general trends in reduced car ownership, we do appreciate that some of our residents at East Didsbury may need to drive as a result of their job or other personal circumstances.
We have listened to what existing residents told us during our first phase of consultation, which was that the proposed amount of car parking was too low for this particular location. In response, we have increased the number of parking spaces within the development. Where we were previously proposing 27 parking spaces for 95 apartments (which equated to just over 28% provision, we are now proposing 33 parking spaces for 75 apartments, (which equates to 44% provision). This includes two visitor parking spaces and a Car Club space. Our updated proposals also accommodate three motorcycle parking spaces.
This brings the level of car parking provision at Blackbird Yard to the very top end of the range we typically provide, and well above the car parking occupancy we experience across our portfolio.
For any future residents who may be weighing up whether they need a car, our marketing to prospective residents will emphasise that they do not need a car to enjoy living in this location. In fact, the development will be supported by a Travel Plan with a range of measures and initiatives to promote sustainable travel behaviour and low carbon travel choices.
As well as promoting the quick and easy public transport links, we will be emphasising that cycling is an excellent way to get around the area, with easy access to dedicated cycle routes as well as – crucially – a secure, covered cycle space for every apartment within the development.
We will also be implementing a Car Club space on the site to provide a genuine alternative to car ownership. This benefit will also be available to residents in surrounding areas, contributing to a wider shift to more sustainable patterns of travel.