Better parking management (a checklist)

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

by: Qurius

Better parking management, which balances the needs of all stakeholders and meets the objectives set by parking owners, is achievable with good partnership and planning – two elements that are essential to good town centre management in general.


The best way to ensure your plan for car parking provision meets the needs of all town centre users is to work in partnership and consult all the necessary stakeholders before decisions are made. A good car parking plan includes synergy with other modes of mobility. (Car parking has become a very emotive issue, which has the ability to occupy many column inches in the local press, where changes to provision are not well handled. )


Good planning requires careful consideration. This first thing to remember is that car parking provision cannot be planned in isolation. In fact, it should fall within a strategy for mobility and accessibility, which itself is a subset of a wider strategy for the town or city centre and local plan for the entire local authority area.

A checklist for better parking management

To develop a plan for car parking provision, it is important to understand existing strategies for the town centre and for mobility. If there is no town centre strategy and your location has neither a local plan or neighbourhood plan then alternatively you can use the data from other sources to help fill in the blanks. The type of data you might find useful includes:

  • Population size (and potential changes in population)
  • Social demographics
  • Employment profile
  • Geography of the catchment
  • Car ownership
  • Public transport infrastructure and usage
  • Town centre provision and business mix
  • Physical characteristics of the town centre
  • Spend and footfall
  • Vacancy rates
  • Market share
  • Competing destinations within catchment and town centre leakage
  • Parking occupancy
  • Cost of providing car parking (including depreciation and maintenance/management)

A combination of useful data can tell you different things about your town centre. Gathering the right data may lead to altering some of the dimensions to car parking provision:

  • Cost
  • Structure of pricing policy (differentiation between short and long term, weekdays and weekends, peak and off-peak)
  • Quantity of spaces
  • Location within town centre (for example, proximity to amenities, major access routes, or other modes of transport)
  • Types of car parking (for example, on-street, off street, pay and display, pay on exit, barrier operated)
  • Targeting of specific types of users (for example, shoppers, commuters, leisure users)
  • Payment methods
  • Enforcement and fines
  • Security measures
  • Provision for disabled users

This is not a comprehensive list. Other elements of the offer may need to be considered. It must be remembered that a plan for car parking provision must compliment the aims and objectives of any existing plan for the town centre and must be based on local circumstances. Objectives may include:

  • Decreasing parking tariffs to exploit latent demand from car users
  • Encourage more shoppers into the town centre by maintaining a high tariff at peak commuting times and a lower tariff during off-peak when retail, leisure and social activities will drive demand
  • Ensure appropriate payment methods are in place where charges are made
  • Limit car parking provision where the town centre’s pedestrianisation is a key attraction to visitors
  • Design interventions to encourage the take-up of public transport or cycling

The outcome needs to support the town centre, or else modifications need to be made. Review the performance of your car parks and their impact on the town centre at least annually, but preferably more often. Also remember that town centres will continually evolve for different reasons such as new development, change in uses and evolving demographics. Ensure the parking provision evolves accordingly.

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).