Government changes to planning rules will leave generations of residents cut off from the bus network because roads on new estates are too narrow.
Stagecoach has written to councils, asking them to build roads at least 6.5metres wide, giving enough room for two buses to pass.
Once again politicians have allowed developers to hold sway over common sense and good planning, creating blighted estates for generations to come.South Holland’s planning chairman Roger Gambba-Jones
But Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, South Holland’s planning chairman, says the bus company’s criticism should be aimed at the Government because it was the Government, not councils, that relaxed the rules and developers have “ruthlessly exploited” the change to “the detriment of all-comers”.
Coun Gambba-Jones said: “It’s not the planning rules, it’s the lack of them. The drive for deregulation across many areas of Government has seen minimum road widths disappear and developers allowed to get away with doing the absolute minimum.
“Once again politicians have allowed developers to hold sway over common sense and good planning, creating blighted estates for generations to come.”
Coun Gambba-Jones said Labour’s John Prescott, when Secretary of State, added to the troubles by dropping the required number of car spaces per home built, making the former minimum requirement of 1.5 spaces per two/three-bed house the new maximum.
The aim was to encourage people to ditch their cars, and use public transport instead, but Coun Gambba-Jones says that’s not realistic in a rural area like ours.
He said: “Our housing developments are now dominated by pavement parking, remote and neglected parking courts and vehicles parked nose to tail in what purports to be the two parking spaces provided down the side of dwellings.
“People get so fed up with shuffling cars, they just leave one out on the too narrow road, requiring it to be parked with two wheels on the footway, forcing any pedestrians, especially those with pushchairs or in a disabled buggy, into the road.
“There are numerous new roads now built where even the Into Town bus would not venture, let alone the ones Stagecoach is talking about.”
He says moves by the Local Government Association mean laws that make it an offence to park on pavements in London could be rolled out nationally.
Coun Gambba-Jones said: “Not only would this prove to be virtually unenforceable in areas such as ours, with little or no resources to do any such enforcement, it would be totally impractical, given the inadequate planning design legislation that has led to the issue in the first place.”
Malc Wheatley, operations director with bus company Brylaine Travel, said: “We have seen two major problems with new developments both of which I have voiced concerns about with planners and developers.
“The main issues affecting bus services are the narrowing of estate roads and the fact that we seem to favour the cul-de-sac approach, which gives us no through route for the development of circular services.
“In far too many cases we find we can only skirt the perimeter of many new estates and patronage is low and often unsustainable due to the distance from the centre or far side of an estate to the nearest bus stops. People tend to ignore public transport and use either cycles or most often the car.
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