Town centre prosperity and car parking provision

Thursday, 20 October 2016

by: Qurius

Trying to find a conclusive link between town centre prosperity and car parking provision is extremely difficult. The variables that influence the success of a town centre are many. However, through the use of primary indicators (those variables which are viewed to have the largest impact), a representative sample of town centres and robust data, we can offer the beginnings of an evidence base which suggest important trends.

Re-Think high street factors influencing success of town centre

Factors influencing the success of a town centre

Exploring the Relationship between Footfall, Spend and Centre Quality

Before the relationship between car parking and prosperity is examined, it is important to understand the extent to which the selected performance measures are meaningful. To this end, the relationship between footfall and spend, and between footfall and centre quality, was examined.

It demonstrated that footfall does appear to reflect town centre performance in that towns with higher footfall levels generate a higher spend and have a better quality of retail offer.

Key findings

  • Parking operators are providing parking provision that equates to the footfall levels achieved by their location. I.e., there is a clear relationship between the quantity of car parking and footfall. Towns with higher footfall (and therefore a higher spend and better quality of offer) have more parking spaces.
    • This by no means implies there is a causal relationship between the quantity of car parking spaces and footfall! It only suggests that the quantity of car parks is well considered and planned in accordance with the performance of the location.
  • There is no clear relationship between car parking charges and the quality offer of a location (some mid-range and smaller centres potentially over-charge).
    • The lack of a link between the cost of car parking and the footfall achieved by a centre does not necessarily allude to a lack of strategic pricing. Many other important factors may play a role in pricing decisions such as;
      • a will to moderate demand,
      • encourage churn or
      • protect pedestrianisation.
    • This demonstrates the complexity and multi-dimensionalism of the town centre and the need for parking provision and pricing structures that reflect this complexity.
  • The mid-range and smaller groupings of centres that charge more than the national average with regards to their offer have suffered a higher than average decline in footfall.

A liberal extract from 'Re-Think! Parking on the High Street', an exploration and collation of evidence and learnings regarding the relationship between car parking provision and town centre prosperity - by the Association of Town & City Management (ATCM), the British Parking Association (BPA), Springboard Research Ltd and Parking Data & Research International (PDRI).