It is a common sight now – the suburban street with all the front gardens paved or concreted over to make room for one or more cars. With the growth of multiple car families the available on street parking has become over subscribed – forcing people to go onto their front gardens.
But, there is more to this than first appears;
The need to have extra cars has been forced upon us all by the society that has developed around car ownership and out of town shopping and often poor public transport. The streets of the houses built when cars were a distant dream for most occupants just aren’t designed for this many vehicles – all that is well known.
what is more worrying is the effect all of this extra concrete and hard surface has on the environment from a drainage point of view. With the recent exceptional rainfall (which may or may not become the norm) the inability of the drains to cope has been highlighted.
The number of houses with paved-over front plots has almost doubled in the past 20 years. In 1991, just 16% of houses with front plots had turned them into hardstandings, compared with 30% in 2011, (according to the report Spaced Out: Perspectives on Parking policy, published by the RAC Foundation).
It states that the main cause for the increasing number is the significant rise in car ownership. The number of cars in Britain has grown from 21m in 1991 to 28.5m in 2011, a figure the report estimates could grow to 32m over the next two decades.
The findings also raise concerns about the potential effect the increased paving would have for floodwater run-off, making drains more likely to overflow. The Committee on Climate Change Adaptation Sub-Committee’s (ASC) progress report, published last week, highlighted the increase in paved-over gardens as a danger during periods of flooding. Their report found the number of paved-over gardens in England rose proportionally from just over a quarter of total garden area in 2001 to nearly half in 2011.
This also has a direct effect upon loss of natural habitat for wildlife in our towns and cities – yet another issue that isn’t going away.
All this makes me sound like a tree hugger – I’m not, but it does make you think how seemingly unrelated things can impact on other matters.