New Chelmsford housing development aims to keep cars away

Plans for the first stage of a garden community that will eventually help lead to 10,000 homes in the north of Chelmsford envisages that “private car parking will be minimised”.

Work on zone one of Chelmsford Garden Village – referred to colloquially as Great Belsteads and Channels Village encompassing 1,500 homes a primary school and employment areas – is expected to start in 2024.

But it is also the intention to get people out of cars “further encourage a culture of sustainable travel, it is also intended that the provision of private car parking will be minimised” and by making sure that bus services are commercially viable and that bus stops are provided within 400 metres of every home.

The garden community totalling 5,500 new home and areas of new open space and parkland is being developed amid massive growth for the city – further south to the development permission has already been granted for 3,600 homes at Beaulieu and 750 homes for the adjacent Channels site.

The entire development will eventually provide around 10,000 new homes and significant employment areas to support a new community of up to 30,000 people.

The construction of Great Belsteads Village Centre is expected to take place in 2025 with all homes complete by 2033.

The two form entry Great Belsteads Primary School is anticipated to be constructed and operational by 2027.

The Garden Community has been promoted and is being brought forward by a developer consortium that has been working in partnership with Chelmsford City Council, Essex County Council and Homes England which will each control a zone each.

Zone 1 to be developed by Ptarmigan will be a key first phase of development, opening up the garden community from the west at Essex Regiment Way and linking to Channels to the south.

As per the council’s planning policy the developer says 35 per cent of homes will be affordable housing.

However, parking may be at a premium – with a maximum provision of one space for one and two-bedroom homes; and a maximum provision of two spaces for homes with three or more bedrooms. Visitor parking will be provided at a maximum standard of one space for every four homes.

Private vehicle movement is planned to be restricted between villages, and vehicles directed to local distributor roads, limiting short journeys within the garden community.

A car club which provides cars for short term hire on a pay per trip basis is being planned – some authorities have reasoned that by reducing the amount of parking, car clubs allow an increase in the number of homes or amenity space on the site.

A statement as part of the planning application said: “As confidence grows in the functionality of the new walkable, cyclable and connected community, that resident’s ability to meet their day-to-day needs within a 15 minute walk of their home and that their need to use a car can be adequately met by the car club, it is anticipated that car ownership levels in Zone 1 will naturally fall.

“That will enable a second phase parking standard that reduces parking to a maximum provision of one on plot parking space per three bedroom home plus one off plot parking space for every two three bedroom homes, and that only permits a maximum provision of two on plot parking spaces for the largest homes with four or more bedrooms.

“It is considered that such provision balances the needs of residents, particularly in the early phases of development, with the overarching objective to ensure that, ultimately, at least 60 per cent of all trips originating or terminating in Zone 1 are made by active and sustainable modes of travel.”

Final agreements on parking will be determined through future reserved matters applications and in accordance with standards to be agreed with Chelmsford City Council and Essex County Council.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter