Car park development

I’ve just signed the petition being organised by LibDem Councillors Ruth Wilkinson and David Rundle asking the City Council to change its preferred option for Headington car park from ‘build over’ to ‘no development’.

I don’t often sign petitions, not least because I don’t think they ever do much good, but like many other people I believe the loss of parking spaces, and possibly the whole car park during construction, would cause irreparable damage to the economy of the Headington shopping centre.

I am, though, not automatically opposed to new development. I’m amused when I read in the paper statements like ‘such-and-such a development will change the nature of [some road or area] for ever’. Without quibbling over ‘for ever’, that’s what happens when you build something new. The change may be for the worse or the better. It all depends, and nimbyism isn’t an attractive personality attribute.

Regarding Headington car park, I accept that the City needs more affordable housing. My challenge is this: if the Council can

  1. show us an example (or preferably a few) where residential accommodation built over public ‘undercroft’ parking has been done in a way which is attractive, safe, energy efficient, and inexpensive to operate in terms of lighting, security, cleaning, etc.;
  2. produce usage data on the current car park which shows that the reduced number of spaces will not have an adverse impact on the numbers able to park; and
  3. find alternative parking within an easy and short walking distance from the shops for the construction period

then I would support the development. I made these points at a consultation meeting a couple of months ago, but so far nothing’s emerged to persuade me.