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Self-driving cars on demand for Chelmsford Garden Village Posted On 15 January 2021

Driveways will make way for green spaces as people ‘take back the street’ in 10,000-home development 

 

A ground-breaking housing development in Essex will ditch driveways and parking spaces – because they won’t be needed.

Only the houses built in the early stages of construction of Chelmsford’s Garden Village – thought to be fewer than 5,000 of the anticipated 10,000 – will initially have space for parking.

However, these will gradually be converted to new uses, such as communal gardens, while the homes in the second phase, scheduled to be built later this decade, could have larger gardens or have the space given over to trees.

It’s all because developers are keen to future-proof the village for when driverless cars are the norm. In this instance, they expect residents to summon the autonomous vehicles to take them where they need to go on site before returning themselves to a hub.

Although at the master planning stage, the futuristic village to the northeast of the city will have its own railway station and a rapid bus service. It is being designed as “a 15-minute neighbourhood”, with schools and shopping within easy walking and cycling distance, and will not be regarded as a co-dependent suburb.

The fact it is also near a park and ride site, plus the anticipated development of driverless cars, has helped planners re-imagine their designs.

Chelmsford City Council’s spatial planning manager, Jeremy Potter, told The Sunday Times: “If you’ve only got a certain amount of space you want to maximise it for things that are really useful.

“A car is only useful for a person when they are using it. The rest of the time it’s just taking up space, on the road or drive, which could be re-imagined for trees or play space.

“Autonomous cars allow you to call it when you need it rather than having it there; a great big bit of steel, taking up a large amount of space.

“This allows the residential environment to be free of cars. It’s taking the street back for people.”

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