NEW planning rules meaning town centre developments across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole no longer need to provide car parking have been adopted.

BCP Council councillors approved a new policy document on Tuesday, relaxing requirements on developers in a bid to encourage more development in central areas.

The move was made despite concerns from some that it will “exacerbate” parking problems in some of the most congested parts of the conurbation.

The “supplementary policy document” (SPD) has been put together to replace three existing versions the council inherited when it was formed in 2019.

It introduces a new zonal approach to planning rules with developments in some town centre areas no longer needing to provide any car parking.

The policy also brings in a requirement for all new houses and bungalows to provide electric car charging facilities.

The parking rules were introduced following concerns developers were being dissuaded by the cost of having to provide spaces for would-be residents.

But the changes have drawn some criticism, including from planning committee member councillor Stephen Bartlett.

Speaking at Tuesday’s full council meeting, he called on the adoption to be halted, saying it was “not policy compliant”.

He referred to the requirement in the National Planning Framework which necessitates improvements to parking safety and quality. He also questioned how disabled people would be accommodated in these developments.

“I have been on the planning committee for six years and I have only heard complaints that the minimum parking provision is insufficient and I have never heard anyone suggest that there should be less, or even nil, until now,” he added.

“If this SPD is adopted I believe residents will be furious when they realise the implications and negative impact this will have for them.”

Concerns were also raised that public transport was not good enough to replace cars.

But cabinet member for transport, councillor Mike Greene, said similar rules were already used elsewhere and that they had worked.

“We are not the first place in the country to be doing this,” he said. “This is widespread and it effective.

“There are many people who would like to buy a property at a cheaper price and accept that they will not be having a car.”

He said this policy would increase the number of people using public transport, providing a “captive audience” to bus companies making more routes viable.

A vote to adopt the new document was supported by 53 votes to eight.