Designing for autonomous vehicles

13 January 2021

Need to design for change now?

A recent article in the Sunday Times (10-1-2021) highlighted a new estate Beaulieu in Chelmsford that is considering how estates are designed without being dominated by the needs of cars and car parking. 

The Chelmsford City Council Spatial Planning Manager makes the point that cars are only useful when being used, the rest of the time they take up space near houses that can be more usefully used for gardens, play areas etc. 

The Chelmsford site, which is still , in part, at master planning stage, has elected to push car parking to the edge of the development to free-up the design of the various neighbourhoods.

The developers and planners are also considering the evolution of private cars where autonomous technology will allow cars to be parked remotely and summoned as required. 

Transitioning to new environment will take time, but the current housing stock on the development is being built with a view to car parking being removed and the land freed up repurposed in the future.

An interesting development with the site having many parallels to the strategic sites being developed along the A3 corridor e.g. Gosden Hill.  Emerging designs for sites such as Weyside are compromised by car parking, bolder flexible designs are needed to maximise space for people rather than acres of concrete filled with parked cars.  The interactive masterplan for Beaulieu is worth looking at.

Can Guildford learn some lessons?  

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