Lambeth’s Kerbside Strategy – Cllr Rezina Chowdhury

We can all see that space on our streets is at a premium, with more demands and pressure on it than ever before. How we allocate this space must be guided by equity and sustainability.

The “kerbside” – or the space where most people park their cars – represents one of the largest public assets we have control over. In Lambeth, this kerbside space is the equivalent of 194 football pitches. How we use this space can both support, and work against, our objectives. Today, 94% of the kerbside is used to provide and manage car parking.

In our Climate Action Plan, we agreed that we will allocate 25% of this space to support our resilience to climate change. Our new strategy sets out how we will achieve this, whilst ensuring and enabling fair and equal access, community interaction, economic resilience, and health and wellbeing objectives.

While the 25% Climate Action Plan target has driven the ambitious scope and scale of the strategy, we’re focused on practical outcomes: this means delivering change that we and our residents can see.  This isn’t just theory.  It’s practical.

That’s why, we’re setting out minimum commitments for every street in Lambeth through our ‘Lambeth Kerbside Basics’, with four key principles.

Firstly, enable accessible and active travel. This means using the kerbside to ensure that our pavements are clear and accessible, particularly for people with mobility impairments. This also includes minimum commitments for cycle parking and shared bikes, and high-quality walking networks. Here, a kerbside basic example is committing to all households being within 50m of free cycle parking.

Secondly, creating places for people. We want kerbsides to be used for social spaces on our streets. We saw all too clearly from living through the pandemic that many households just don’t have outdoor space, or a car and they can’t make use of the kerbside either. That will change with this strategy. Local people will be able to apply to use the kerbside for things like small community gardens or somewhere to sit and chat with neighbours. Businesses will be able to apply to use the kerbside for outdoor seating. We will build on the successes of pilot schemes over the last few years.  And if you haven’t already seen an example, I encourage you to visit the Cut in Waterloo where we’ve reclaimed 5 car parking spaces for seating, restaurant tables, cycle storage and planters.

Thirdly, we need to increase climate resilience. Our summers are already getting hotter, and flooding is a growing risk. We all know that the impacts of climate change won’t be felt equally and people on lower incomes, those with long term health conditions, or older people are all at greater risk. This strategy pledges that all streets will have shade from trees, and green spaces, and biodiversity, that together help protect us from these risks. Here, a kerbside basic example is street trees every 25m on every street in Lambeth.

And the fourth priority is reducing emissions and traffic. Once we reach our ambitious targets for sustainable transport and traffic reduction, there will be far fewer motor vehicles on our streets.

But for those remaining ones we need to support the shift towards electric vehicles and shared cars as much as possible. It’s our ambition to provide the infrastructure and incentives to support this shift at both scale and pace (though more support will need to be provided from central Government, especially financial ones, to support this shift). We do also need consider the remaining 75% of kerbside, to ensure it works towards our priority areas.

This strategy is about fundamental change in response to the climate emergency. We can’t deliver that change alone. We will all need to work together to re-imagine our streets, the way we travel and arrange our lives. In return the benefits, in terms of healthier, more sustainable, equal, and enjoyable lives are there for us all to claim.