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The importance of planning for parking

03 March 2014/Categories: PTRC News


Streets in urban areas serve many different functions, and implementing the most appropriate solutions in allocating and managing road-side space is often a complex balancing act. Parking provision, management and enforcement is a key concern to industry professionals and the general public alike and is often a controversial and highly newsworthy subject.

Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, has recently stated that he want wants parking enforcement regimes focused on ‘supporting high streets and motorists, not raising money.’ National press coverage often aligns with this view and fuels public perception of Town Halls raking in huge sums of cash from parking charges, e.g. Southend-on-Sea Council’s ‘spy cars’, reportedly accumulating more than £0.5M in penalty charges. By way of contrast to such widely held views, a recently commissioned survey by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) has concluded that more than 80% of Councils do not even cover their costs from parking enforcement; not exactly milking the parking cash cow then?

The recent Department for Transport (DfT) consultation on proposed reforms to local authority parking enforcement, which would potentially ban the use of CCTV for parking enforcement, extend grace periods on yellow lines, remove sections of double yellow lines and make changes to the parking charge appeals process, (making it easier and cheaper for people to appeal), has been met with criticism from local authorities and organisations including the Local Government Association (LGA) and the British Parking Association (BPA). Both the LGA and BPA highlighted potential negative implications of the DfT proposals, setting out how resultant, obstructive parking can increase traffic congestion, exacerbate road safety issues and restrict emergency service access.

Like it or not, parking is politically a ‘hot topic’. Where space is limited and the available supply cannot readily be increased through new or expanded provision, it is necessary to balance allocation of the available space between the often conflicting requirements for use. In order to provide a satisfactory level of public service from the available supply it can mean that access will be denied or at least restricted to some groups of users and activities, generating emotive responses from the users affected. The policies underlying practical parking scheme implementation, management, and enforcement regimes can significantly influence patterns of parking activity, either locally or on a wider area basis. But because of the emotive nature of the outcomes, professionals working in this field can expect continued high levels of scrutiny and interest in their work.

John Dooley
Projects Director, Mott MacDonald Integrated Transport
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