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Friday, 13 January 2017

Short term letting - time for reform


Short term holiday and party lets can cause major problems for neighbouring residents, are not subject to the same regulation or taxation regimes of other more conventional providers of holiday accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs.
Internet companies such as Air B&B are considerably increasing this type of letting and whole neighbourhood are being blighted by the worse tenants and most irresponsible landlords.

 Local authorities are struggling to find legislation which allows them to manage this growing problem London Authorities have fallen back on some legislation from the 1970s which only applies within the boundaries of Greater London. However, even this rather inadequate legal provision was considerably weakened by the deregulations laws passed in 2015.
Outside London local government is struggling with case law which can only be applied in very limited circumstances.

We need central government to recognise the problems created by this type of letting in urban environments like Bath city centre and create a proper and clear legislative framework which allows local authorities to manage this issue efficiently and effectively.
We need legislation which allows planning authorities to reclassify premises that they judge to be  primarily used for short-term lettings as small hotels.

Monday, 9 January 2017

A Statement prepared for the cabinet meeting to discuss the proposed eastern park and ride

 We strongly support the need for Park-and-Ride facilities to the east of the City.
 When it comes to site selection we believe that the most important criteria should be that its location should make it attractive to drivers coming to the city i.e. close to main routes into the city and close enough to the city to offer a reasonable short journey to the city centre. The site chosen should also meet the forecast maximum demand for at least the next 10 years.
 The selected site should operate for 7 days a week until late, with secure overnight parking, to enable its use by evening visitors and those staying overnight in Bath. The public transport to and from the city centre should use low emission vehicles, and be inexpensive to use.
 Our concern is pollution, particularly small particulates, and its reduction in the short term. Pollution is damaging people health now and we need to be implementing changes to traffic management without further delay.
 Air pollution was described by the Times newspaper earlier this week as the 'most serious and costly occupational hazard of city life'.  A Canadian study cited by the paper showed that those living within 50m of a busy urban road were between 7% and 12% more likely than those living more than 300m away to develop dementia.  A separate German/Finnish study concluded that diesel cars are likely to release twice as many small particulates than heavier vehicles due to the stricter testing regimes the latter are subjected to.  Last week the High Court ruled that the government's air quality plan was so far below adequate standards as to be effectively illegal.
 We have spent years, considerable sums of money and consulted many experts to come up with a transport management plan it is now time to stop debating and implement it before more people are harmed.
 The opponent of the eastern park and ride are asking you to revisit the plan, question all the assumption and further delay taking action to address the causes of pollution in the city centre while another plan is created. In addition to this many of their proposed “solutions” depend on changing technologies and changing human behaviour both of which are long-term aspirations rather than short term goals.
 It is worth noting that even they propose additional parking capacity to the east of the city but they want to take longer creating it and spread it over multiple locations so it will be harder for drivers to locate.
 One of the factors that increase pollution in the city centre is people driving around the city seeking somewhere to park. While we applaud the plans to build more out of town parking, we also recognise that people will need to and will want to drive their cars into the city for the foreseeable future. Indeed local businesses have repeatedly said that Baths economic viability requires vehicular access to the commercial heart of the city.
 We, therefore, believe that it is important to have better planning for what to do with vehicles coming into the city that need to park. We would, therefore, like to see:
  • More parking capacity in the city centre.
  • An end to, the failed policy, of granting planning consent to hotel developments which have no parking provision
  • A proper strategy for managing coaches visiting the city
  • A firm principle that parking spaces cannot be removed without a plan to provide additional capacity elsewhere
  • That on street parking should be primarily for residents' use but with clear allocation of bays that businesses can use for their customer loading and collecting
Our research also shows that a key factor in reducing pollution from vehicles in the city centre is reducing the amount of stop-start driving they do. This means removing unnecessary obstructions, for instance, reducing the number of traffic lights, and ensuring traffic lights are better coordinated to avoid the build-up of queues.
We would also like to see the introduction of a clean air zone.